Zero Trust Architecture and its Relevance in Cybersecurity
In the world of technology, just as in any other sphere of life, things that were once in vogue have become outdated, and things that are the trend today would soon go out of use. This naturally applies to cybersecurity as well.
Cybersecurity is an area that evolves much faster than many other domains in the world of technology. This is partly because existing technologies are constantly being updated with new versions or replaced with newer ones. This is also partly because cybersecurity firms and experts have to stay ahead of the cybercriminals who are constantly coming up newer and sophisticated kinds of threats and attacks.
Today let’s discuss a rather new technology that has replaced the widely used and much popular Default Allow approach to cybersecurity. The new technology, the Zero Trust architecture is now turning quite popular among modern day enterprises. Let’s examine different aspects of this development and also discuss the relevance of the rapidly evolving Zero Trust architecture.
What’s the issue with Default Allow?
The Default Allow approach to cybersecurity, which was deemed highly effective, works by allowing unknown files and apps to access enterprise networks. The negative aspect of Default Allow is that cybercriminals could exploit it as a fast, easy way to penetrate enterprise networks and then execute malware attacks and data breaches. They could go for Zero Day attacks or ransomware attacks and cause enterprises huge losses. It’s here that Zero Trust architecture gains relevance.
Zero Trust architecture- What’s it?
Zero Trust architecture is, as the name itself suggests, all about not trusting anything that comes into a network. Thus, the IT team works with the supposition that all files and apps are dangerous as long as they are not verified. Hence, they’d employ a set of security systems and software throughout the network, spanning the web, the cloud, the LAN, the endpoints etc to ensure that every single file or application is safe.
How it works?
As already mentioned, the basic underlying principle here is that of zero trust. Everything needs to be verified before being allowed to execute in a network…
Thus, today we have a wide range of Endpoint Protection platforms that help enterprises achieve a Zero Trust architecture by not trusting and always verifying all unknown files. All unknown files that are executed on an endpoint are instantly placed in a container, thereby ensuring uninterrupted service and zero damage to the user. The unknown files in the containment are all analyzed statically and dynamically, in the cloud as well as by human experts. Post analysis, the verdicts are given. 95 percent of verdicts are returned in under 45 seconds while for 5 percent, it might take up to 4 hours. Then, the files are handled accordingly. Those that are found to be safe and let in and those that are unsafe are blocked. To be noted is the fact that those files for which a 100 percent safe verdict cannot be given from a cloud analysis in 45 seconds are immediately escalated to a human analyst, who does a review to determine if the files are safe or malicious. The highlight is that neither productivity nor user experience is impacted as the analysis process happens without being perceived and the users can immediately run files and applications as they are contained and analyzed in the cloud.
The relevance of a Zero Trust architecture
We have always maintained that the human element is of utmost importance in cybersecurity. Every single employee who is part of a corporate network is responsible for the overall security of the network. Still, errors are bound to happen. One or the other employee might by chance click on a link or download an attachment in a phishing email and that one click or one stray download might pave the way for a devastating cyberattack, sometimes a ransomware strike that could cripple the entire network. This, we’d like to mention, is not underestimating the importance of the human element in cybersecurity. It’s just that it’s only human to err, but one single error that’s thus committed could cost dear for a business organization. To err is human, but then, as regards cybersecurity, there’s no point in consoling ourselves by stating that to forgive is divine, because sometimes, the damages done to businesses as a result of small human errors are irreversible.
Similarly, it wouldn’t be proper to trust the IT teams to detect every threat. Their systems too could sometimes fail. We do point out time and again that all security systems have or develop flaws that could be exploited before they are found and fixed.
Thus, it’s important, not just important but highly relevant, that business enterprises seek to empower their workforces, their networks and their IT teams with the Zero Trust mindsets and the architecture that’s needed to support it. The cyberattacks that could happen as a result of depending wholly on Default Allow could have disastrous consequences and hence we need to go for the Zero Trust architecture, for better protection and data security.
Julia Sowells960 Posts
Julia Sowells has been a technology and security professional. For a decade of experience in technology, she has worked on dozens of large-scale enterprise security projects, and even writing technical articles and has worked as a technical editor for Rural Press Magazine. She now lives and works in New York, where she maintains her own consulting firm with her role as security consultant while continuing to write for Hacker Combat in her limited spare time.