Data breaches are expensive, costing time, money, and trust from clients and business partners, which is why network security is an important issue for any business, no matter its size or industry. According to SecurityIntelligence.com, between July 2018 and April 2019 the average cost of a data breach was $3.92 million, which is a 1.5% increase from the previous year’s study. Additionally, it can take between 10 months and 2 years for a company to recover its reputation after a breach involving customer data.
Until recently, network security focused on protecting the network from external threats. These include things like Distributed Denial of Service or hacking attacks from people unaffiliated with the business. However, by focusing on external threats, these protections overlooked threats that might come from inside the network itself.
Network security has operated on two assumptions: that everything already inside the network is secure, and all authorized users using the network should be trusted. This is a huge flaw. Approximately one quarter of data breaches are actually caused by employees, and data trends from the last few years suggest this number is increasing. Some of these breaches may be intentional, with employees benefitting from selling data or committing fraud, or from employees seeking revenge against companies. However, often these breaches are traced back to accidents where employees mishandle information or unwittingly open network vulnerabilities, such as through database misconfiguration. But regardless of whether they are intentional or not, according to a 2018 study by the Ponemon Institute, the average cost of an insider data breach is around $513,000.
Zero Trust Architecture: Never Trust, Always Verify
Zero trust architecture is fundamentally different from traditional network architecture in that it breaks up the network into sections—a process sometimes called microsegmentation—and limits users’ contact with those sections. By granting or restricting access to these sections, administrators limit users’ ability to access, alter, or share secure information outside the network. It also cordons off the network’s most important data by applying special protections and severely restricting access to that data.
Limited Lateral Movement
Usually when an attack occurs, the point of entry to the network is not the same as the location of the data the attackers want to access. Attackers enter the network through a weak point, and once inside, the attackers can move fluidly through the network. By limiting this lateral movement, administrators can lessen the likelihood that data will be stolen and lessen the amount of data that is compromised during an attack.
Identity Access And Management
One hallmark of zero trust architecture is controlling users’ access to segments of the network based on their position in the company. A user who works in sales will not have access to information used by the accounting department, for instance, and may have only limited access to parts of the network used by related departments like marketing. This reduces the amount of data any single user can interact with.
Because zero trust architecture requires user credentials to access different parts of the network, if a user’s credentials are used to abuse data, the system logs the actions taken under that user account, letting network administrators see that a user’s credentials may be compromised.
Layers Of Security
Some data is more valuable to a company than other data. Zero trust architecture allows administrators to provide different levels of protection to these different types of data that are stored in different segments of the network. The most essential resources required for a business to continue operations can be hidden behind layers of protection such multi-factor authentication and firewalls. By severely restricting access to this data, an administrator can make a company’s essential data much more secure, significantly reducing the change of an immobilizing attack against the network.
How To Start Zero Trust For Your Business
Maybe you’re thinking all this zero trust stuff sounds nice, but expensive. Or maybe you value security, but you’re not ready to commit to an entire network overhaul.
The good news is that zero trust architecture can be implemented in whatever network you’re working with right now. Zero trust is about practices, about how you set up what you have. Using the steps below, you can implement these practices for your business and enjoy a sense of greater security knowing your business is safe.
- Implement multi-factor authentication by requiring everyone who accesses a network—administrators, employees, and contractors—to use a unique ID and password.
- Set up real-time monitoring to track who is doing what on your network. Not only will you identify suspicious activity faster, but you’ll be able to find security vulnerabilities by back-tracking to their origination point.
- Enact Secure Remote Access to provide employees with the least network access possible for them to do their jobs. This access should be reviewed regularly to ensure that employees can do their jobs effectively, but that they do not have access to information beyond what their jobs require.
If you need some help establishing a secure network design for your business, or you want someone who can manage your security needs for you, TracSoft Tech offers industry-leading network security. You can sit down with one of our experienced IT experts to discuss your business’ needs. We’ve been providing 24/7 monitoring and network security for decades to businesses across many industries, and we’ll be happy to tailor a security plan to your business, too. Contact us today and find out how we can make your workday run smoothly.