What Benefits Does a Zero-Trust Approach Have Over Traditional IT Security?

What Benefits Does a Zero-Trust Approach Have Over Traditional IT Security?

One of the most vital actions that you can take as a business owner is to ensure that you are doing everything possible to secure, manage, and monitor your company’s IT infrastructure. While there are many approaches that can be taken and methods that can be used, the subject today is comparing traditional IT security, such as EDR or Endpoint Detection and Response, to a Zero-Trust Approach. The more you know about the pros, cons, and concerns about the different types of IT security, the easier it will be to choose the one that is right for you and your organization.

Cybersecurity Concept: System Administrator Enhancing Network Protection

What is Zero-Trust Security?

The best place to start is by learning more about zero-trust security and what it might look like and protecting your company’s IT infrastructure. The first thing you need to know is that there is no 100-percent, perfect IT security strategy out there. Regardless of how diligent you and your team are or how multi-faceted the approach, there is always a way to overcome it. Zero-trust security is being hailed as one of the most effective strategies currently in-use, as it significantly reduces the risk of a data breach by eliminating many of the possibilities associated with an attack. It gives you and your team complete access control over on-premises and cloud-based environments, reducing the impact and severity of common attacks to streamline recovery and lower associated costs.

In the simplest of terms, zero-trust is a strategic approach to IT security that is designed to ensure that absolutely no entity, including an individual user, device, service, or app, will be trusted by default. It is built on the backbone of the least-privileged access model, which requires trust to be established based on the context and posture of the entity before any type of connection is allowed. In addition, this trust or approval must be reassessed and proven again in the future for every new connection, regardless of authentication status during previous connections. No access is trusted by default, including previously trusted entities. There are many benefits associated with this type of security approach that can even improve the user experience.

What are the Benefits of a Zero-Trust Approach?

Right out of the gate, let’s talk about the pros of taking on this type of IT security approach. Many believe that this strategy not only leads to better security for the IT environment, but it also helps to establish a simpler network infrastructure. This, in turn, can create a better user experience and an overall improved defense against many varieties of cyber threats. The mantra of Zero-Trust is to never trust, always verify. This means that no trusted or positive assumptions are made about any user, device, or entity – not even individuals, workstations, and services that come directly from the organization. This no-exceptions type of rule helps to block out unauthorized access and lateral movement by previously approved entities through the IT environment.

The top benefits associated with zero-trust security include:

  1. Monitoring and Security Alerts – Once a zero-trust framework has been employed, it is essential to ensure that the proper monitoring and detection tools are in place. While it is possible to use a singular resource for this purpose, most strategies include a combination of methods to provide a more comprehensive result. Some of the tools that can be used include network detection and response, log and event analysis, security orchestration, automation and response, security information and event management, or even AI methods to help identify potential security issues and determine the best way to address them. All of these options can be used to increase the abilities of the security operations team to rapidly identify and respond to any perceived threats.
  2. Infrastructure Inventory – When a zero-trust approach is used, your security team should have complete knowledge of any users, devices, or entities that are approved to access the IT infrastructure and to what degree. Administrators are required to be on top of any applications, services, data, devices, and individual users that have been allowed. This can be beneficial in obvious ways, such as prevention and security issues, but also for making improvements to infrastructure access, usage, and future growth analysis.
  3. Universal Security Policy – Another clear advantage associated with zero-trust is having the ability to design and implement a security policy that can be used across the board. With traditional IT security, such as Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR), policies must be established and configured individually based on the user, the device, the application, the service, and the unique situation. This can quickly become very complicated and challenging to manage, leaving parts of the network and infrastructure vulnerable to attack. Zero-trust allows for a singular authentication policy to be set for the entire network, streamlining the administrative end of things.
  4. Improved Experience for Users – One of the hallmarks of a zero-trust approach is the use of a single sign-on tool. Not only can this simplify the use of credentials, including usernames and passwords for each user, but this type of authentication framework also helps to improve the organization and tracking of the resources that users and devices are allowed to access. Many users are opposed to the use of multifactor authentication and overly complicated password management tools. Zero-trust can not only streamline the process but eliminate user expose to many of these tools and services to improve the overall experience without compromising security.
  5. Increased Flexibility in the Infrastructure – Having the ability to change, evolve, and adapt quickly and seamlessly within the IT environment is a huge flex for competitive organizations. As your company’s needs and strategies change, the location, access, and use of certain applications, services, and data will likely be impacted, as well. Zero-trust allows IT administrators to easily move data and applications easily within the infrastructure, changing certain entities from private storage to a more open cloud environment, or even in reverse. A simplified universal security policy allows your IT team to make adjustments according to your needs without concerns about security vulnerabilities or the need to manually create new security policies as a result.
  6. Data Loss Prevention Protection – And last, but definitely not least, is the advantage of being able to invest in the protection and prevention of data loss or outright theft within the zero-trust environment. Any time you can increase security, reduce vulnerabilities, and prevent this type of loss, it is definitely a good investment. This type of approach will not only help to protect your company and sensitive data today, but also in the future. As your organization grows, expands, and increases its reach, your zero-trust framework will continue to evolve with your needs to protect your interests.

How Does Zero-Trust Work?

It is clear that the term zero-trust implies that nothing will be trusted and that all entities are considered hostile until proven otherwise. However, understanding the way that zero-trust frameworks identify potential threats and approach them once the alert has been made will help you to appreciate the benefits of zero-trust security even more. Traditional IT security works in a very predictable and expected way, using things like IP addresses, ports, and other protocols to provide access or approve and validate users for access to the network. Zero-trust looks at everything in the same light of negativity, truly categorizing every user, device, and entity as guilty until proven innocent.

Some of the ways that zero-trust can approve or deny access to the network include:

  • All Traffic is Suspect – Unlike a VPN, which can be set based on the location of the user or device, zero-trust never assumes approval for anyone, including those already approved for some level of access within the network parameter. Additional approval is required, such as proof of identity, fingerprint/bio access, or other criteria.
  • Context Not Taken into Account – Increased security is provided by ensuring that the zero-trust model will not approve access based solely on the location of the user or device, including within the cloud, container server network, or even on-premises. This prevents a variety of common location-based or network-based attacks and even human errors from occurring.
  • Multifactor Authentication – As described before, a multifactor authentication system can be applied unseen by the user, but still strategically used by IT administration and security, based upon the user, their identity, location, device, and other factors identified in the zero-trust policy.
  • Communication Environment – Regardless of the environment of the user, including location, devices, applications, and communications, the zero-trust model can be applied across the board without the requirement of policy updates or changes in architectural hierarchy.
  • Secure Digital Transformation – Business policies can be easily set and maintained to connect users, devices, applications, and entities across the network using zero-trust protocols and policies. This streamlines the administrative aspects and enhances the digital transformation security of the entire organization.

Is the Zero-Trust Model Right for You?

Every business, infrastructure, network, and individual is different and requires different things when it comes to IT security. So while zero-trust might seem like the best thing since sliced bread, in reality, it may or may not be right for your organization. Like anything else, there are pros and cons associated with the zero-trust model that must be considered before moving forward and implementing any of its policies and security tools. Working with a trusted IT advisor or service provider can definitely help to mitigate any of the negatives associated with a zero-trust model or any other type of unique cybersecurity approach. Synivate has many years of experience working with businesses of all sizes to provide IT administration, security, and support based on the client’s unique goals, needs, industry requirements, and budgetary restrictions.

Some of the disadvantages of zero-trust include:

  1. Implementation Can Be a Challenge – If you take care of your own IT administration in-house, either solo or with the help of an IT administrator, implementing a zero-trust approach can be overwhelming. Considering that every single user, device, application, and entity must be authenticated and authorized, can make it seem daunting – even to the most seasoned IT professional.
  2. Increased Manpower is Required – You will not be able to administer and maintain a zero-trust system with a small staff. Zero-trust frequently requires a large staff, a team that can be there 24/7 to monitor and manage access across multiple parameters.
  3. A Completely Different Approach – If you and your team are used to addressing security concerns with a traditional IT approach, it can take some doing to shift the way you think about cybersecurity to a zero-trust framework. It can be difficult to learn this new method and stay consistent in the implementation and application of it, as such.
  4. Zero-Trust Can Slow Performance – If you don’t know what you are doing and don’t have experience working with a zero-trust model, there can be visible issues for end-users with regard to performance. Applications and other services may slow down within the system, as every single user, device, and entity must be authenticated and authorized before access is granted. However, there are solutions to help overcome this, including an adaptive access control model, depending on your risk profile.
  5. Cost-Effectiveness of Zero-Trust – Due to the increased needs for extra security and staff to monitor and manage authentication and access, zero-trust security can be most costly to implement than other types of security measures. It is possible to design a solution that will meet your security requirements and help you stay within your budget.
  6. Productivity Concerns with Zero-Trust – Another concern that many voice concerning the zero-trust approach is reduction in productivity, due to potential access delays inherent with the security protocols. If a user cannot access an application or specific data that is required to get the job done, they may have a slight delay in obtaining new access permissions within the system.

Do You Want to Know More About Zero-Trust?

If you would like to learn more about the zero-trust approach and how it might benefit your company’s IT infrastructure better than traditional IT security methods, contact Synivate to discuss your questions and concerns. We can provide you with a free initial consultation to determine whether Zero-Trust Security is right for you. Give our team a call at 617-517-0704 and speak with one of our knowledgeable and friendly technicians about your needs for company-wide network security programs and services.

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Sean Maguire