How the Pandemic Encouraged Businesses to Adopt a Zero Trust Model

Kate Noether | Sydney | Updated: 29-12-2020 16:44 IST | Created: 22-12-2020 17:09 IST
How the Pandemic Encouraged Businesses to Adopt a Zero Trust Model
Representative Picture. Image Credit: Pexels
  • Country:
  • Australia

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced businesses around the globe to change in ways that were thought impossible at the start of 2020. Having employees work from home was a radical idea. Now, it is being touted by employers and employees alike as the way business should go moving forward.

Marketing has also changed post-pandemic. Businesses realize that attracting new customers is a challenge. The focus has to be on building brand loyalty and keeping existing customers. Social media is playing a larger role than ever in marketing. People are reluctant to spend money. When they do spend money, they feel more comfortable if they can relate to the brand they are purchasing from.

Cybersecurity is another area that has changed post-pandemic. While cybersecurity has been a major theme most of the year, many companies weren't adequately prepared for the rapid growth of cyberattacks among other difficulties that very much threatened their survival during the pandemic. According to the cybercrime reports, phishing scams significantly damaged both companies and individuals in many countries. Australian Cyber Security Centre reported that the Government’s Scamwatch received more than 3,060 COVID-19 related scam reports since the pandemic's outbreak with over $1,371,000 in reported losses. That made most of the organizations question their cybersecurity models.

The importance of traditional cybersecurity tools cannot be understated. As cybersecurity poses an ever-growing global threat, security applications like password managers that are hack-proof and VPNs solutions for Australians that guarantee a strict no-logging policy, multi-factor authentication, and identity access management have been amplified in most Australian-based organizations. New technologies, such as those backed by machine learning and artificial intelligence, are finding their foothold.

Many Australian companies started to recognize that a distributed workforce is most likely to become a standard procedure for many organizations even after the pandemic, which encouraged them to embrace the switch to a zero-trust security model. Zero trust is being seen as a security model that can help organizations correct vulnerabilities and their legacy security practices with the goal of supporting remote workers.

The Australian scenario is a great example of what happened to organizations around the world. The shift to remote work happened so quickly that many IT security teams were caught flat-footed. They are hoping that a zero trust model will provide them with the agility they need to adapt to any future unforeseen changes.

What Is the Zero Trust Network Security Model?

Zero trust security is a security model that uses the least privilege principles. It is built around multi-factor authentication. It requires device security checks.

A VPN infrastructure works well in certain circumstances. However, it lacks the scalability that zero trust brings. Remote workers can access applications via secure web-based gateways. Zero trust integrates easily with the most popular single sign-on platforms on the market. Zero trust provides a scalable privilege access management infrastructure that allows decision-makers to configure control access policies based on a user’s privilege and the devices they are using.

Why Is Zero Trust Network Security so Sought after Today?

There is a greater emphasis on businesses going mobile. Organizations have seen the need to embrace remote work. Under these circumstances, the zero trust model is helping organizations stay secure.

Adopting zero trust helps manage cyber risk. This includes cyber risk caused by workforce mistakes. For example, remote workers, insider threats, and third-party risk are all mitigated with zero trust model network security. During the pandemic many companies especially small businesses integrated some useful tools such as cloud invoicing and accounting systems to help them manage their cash flow, and cybersecurity became an even bigger concern than it was before.

Zero trust addresses the limitations caused by traditional cybersecurity. Organizations have become more complex and interconnected. Employees, vendors, and customers have blurred the lines of traditional cybersecurity perimeters. As a result, zero trust is becoming the preferred approach for cybersecurity.

The principles and architecting behind zero trust are seen as a modernized way of doing cybersecurity. This is not an isolated implementation event. It is not a one-size-fits-all application. Zero trust is a continuing process of the security building. It is built around and enforces the idea of the least privilege with access control.

The zero trust framework requires that networks, users, and workloads, and devices used get contextualized. This allows access control decisions to be made based on the information and risk assessment. Implementing the zero trust model is not a simple thing to do because it requires a comprehensive effort in reworking the system and user access throughout the IT landscape of an organization.

However, the benefits outweigh the costs. Zero trust architecture can circumnavigate the challenges traditional cybersecurity approaches have. This is because it can leverage new capabilities and new opportunities to close security vulnerabilities.

Organizations will invest in zero trust network security because they understand that their IT environment is complex and will become more complex as the years go on. They also realize that just one data breach is enough to destroy their brand’s reputation, result in regulatory fines, and lead to a financial setback that far outweighs any investment they might make in zero trust network security.

What Are the Benefits of Zero Trust?

One benefit is that zero trust brings an integrated dynamic approach to cybersecurity. This means that it can protect an organization regardless of where the threats originate from and regardless of where an individual is connecting from. Zero trust makes an organization an evasive target. It is difficult for nefarious individuals to identify an organization’s infrastructure as easily as it would be if zero trust was not implemented.

Companies that have a perimeter centric approach to security are built on siloed, layered defenses. But these can be pierced and eventually expose the internal environment. It can reach a point where the entire organization’s infrastructure is at risk.

However, zero trust provides ubiquitous security, allowing intrusions to be isolated, preventing lateral movement, and minimizing the blast radius. Zero trust environments require automation, coordination, resilience, and integration. The results make the effort worth it.

Preparing to Adopt Zero Trust

Adopting zero trust network security requires planning. It is a monumental undertaking that will impact every aspect of your organization, including business operations, people, and technology.

As your organization embraces cloud adaptation and digital transformation, zero trust will probably become a priority. In this environment, cloud security, identity management, secure remote access, third-party access, and device management take on greater importance.

Adopting zero trust can be made easier if you leverage existing cybersecurity investments and those that have already been planned for the future. Most organizations cannot afford to jump into zero trust with both feet. The switch from perimeter-based security to zero trust will usually be incremental.

Communication is key as this change happens. The change will impact several stakeholders. Any pushback felt at the start of integrating zero trust usually fades away as the integration process continues and they see the value of implementing zero trust.

Your organization needs a clearly defined strategy and architecture goals to make zero trust implementation effective. If your organization remains forward-thinking and if you are constantly assessing current and future cybersecurity threats, you will create a realistic roadmap for implementing zero trust incrementally.

(Disclaimer: Devdiscourse's journalists were not involved in the production of this article. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of Devdiscourse and Devdiscourse does not claim any responsibility for the same.)

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