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Why Zero-Trust Access Controls Can’t Wait

Chris Ault

Nobody in their right mind wants a data breach. Nobody wants to be the next Capital One, the next Equifax or the next Desjardins. Or the next Target. Or Home Depot. Or Marriott. You get my drift. Yet organizations around the world are continuing to do the one thing that puts them at the greatest risk of a cyberattack: They are continuing to entrust their cybersecurity to methods held over from the 20th century.

The traditional approach to IT security operates on the same principle as a castle and moat. It mounts a strong defense against outside intruders, but assumes that everyone inside the network is deserving of trust. The problem here, of course, is that a hacker who breaches the “moat” will suddenly have full access to all of the target organization’s data. 

The weaknesses of the castle-and-moat approach have become even more obvious and dangerous in the era of cloud computing. Data is no longer stored in just one place, which makes any organization’s security protocols even more difficult to maintain. And in the age of far-flung contract workforces, clinging to the castle-and-moat approach means granting insider status to hundreds or even thousands of complete strangers.

Clearly, a more realistic approach to network security is needed, and zero- trust is precisely that approach. Zero-trust starts with the assumption that attackers can be inside your network as well as outside. With zero-trust, no machine or user gets access by default. Whether inside or outside the network, all users must verify their identity before gaining access to any data stored there. Similarly, any device attempting to access a zero-trust network must be authorized in advance.

Under zero-trust, verification takes more than a password. A core principle of the approach is the need for multi-factor authentication (MFA). With MFA, a user entering a password must also enter a code that is sent to a separate device (usually a phone). In this way, users provide at least two pieces of evidence to prove they are who they say they are. 

Zero-trust also brings us the principle of least privilege. Rather than granting users access to the entire network, zero trust grants them access only to the data they need for whatever work they’re doing at the time. This safeguards an organization’s most sensitive data from the risks that come with unnecessary access. 

A proper zero-trust approach also requires microsegmentation. Microsegmentation breaks the network into small security zones, each requiring separate authorization for access. With microsegmentation, any bad actor or malware gaining access to one zone will be thwarted from spreading the attack any farther.

Zero-trust is a clean, elegant response to the constant threat of cyberattacks in the digital age. In fact, it would be just about impossible to argue that zero trust is a bad idea. After all, as IBM reports, the average cost of a single data breach in 2019 is $3.92 million USD. But implementing zero-trust security on your own is no small matter. Incorporating all the principles mentioned above requires detailed implementation from specialized engineering professionals — unless you have Tehama.

Tehama is a cloud-based service delivery platform that instantly establishes zero trust principles in your organization. Tehama simplifies your life by giving you all the components you need to securely onboard and manage your workforce, no matter where they are in the world. And Tehama frees you from the complexity of owning and integrating all the software and tools you would otherwise need for secure data management.

Tehama creates the firewalls, the storage, the end-used compute infrastructure and the access tools, all in one place where every action is monitored and recorded. Our contained, collaborative workspaces operate as a virtual extension of your secured business infrastructure. With Tehama, you get more security, more control and more isolation. You get full compliance with tough standards like SOC 2 Type II. And you get it all in minutes, instead of weeks or months.

Today, attacks on the security of your data are inevitable. The zero-trust approach is key to countering cyberattacks, but it’s only one piece of a larger security puzzle. To conduct business securely in 2019, your organization needs the comprehensive protection of Tehama. To learn more about Tehama, download our eBook. And to get a free 45-day trial of Tehama, please click here.

 

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