Zero Trust is a model in cyber security that is focused on maintaining strict access controls by removing trust as a component of the security approach. Zero Trust relies on visibility and access controls to monitor and protect every device, user, and application.
Zero Trust allows for the re-envisioning of the network perimeter without sacrificing security, allowing organizations to greatly expand their global footprint without bloating security overhead or impact end-users negatively.
Shifting to zero trust
Zero Trust came about a few years ago as a response to diverse cyber threats, and changing IT and user requirements. Mobile workforces and cloud services proliferated and caused IT leaders to find themselves lacking visibility and control. The traditional “castle and moat” approach to security began to fail. A new framework was needed. Zero Trust gained attention as a potential solution to these problems.
Zero Trust is now core to many organizations’ current digital journeys. As enterprises and smaller companies around the world embark on cloud transformation initiatives, Zero Trust provides a blueprint for what security should look like. It’s a welcome and widely accepted way of thinking, but getting there requires a heavy lift and change from IT and security operations teams.
Zero trust in practice
A popular analogy for Zero Trust involves a house and a key. Say you get a key to the front door. In traditional security, that key probably means that you can access any room you want once your house key has been validated. You can look around freely. You can have a cookie or two. Zero Trust says, “Oh, no you don’t.” Suddenly that key won’t get you into all the rooms. It might only work for one of them — or maybe it only works for the entryway. The critical part of this is that all of this applies even if you’re the owner of the house.
Typically, organizations take a few critical first steps when embarking on their Zero Trust initiative. These guidelines typically include removal of safety assumptions, employing least privileged access, and using just-in-time access. These three items represent the core foundational elements of Zero Trust:
- No Assumption of Safety: Verification is explicit and mandatory regardless of user, every single time. No entry without verification, even if someone else has invited you.
- Least Privileged Access: Users access to assets is limited to what you need, and nothing more. If you do not have an explicit need for access, you are not permitted access.
- Just-in-Time Access: Your access expires immediately after you stop needing access. No more keeping admin credentials you received months or years ago and no longer use. When you are done with the asset, your access ends.
Improving your move to zero trust
Zero Trust can be a difficult shift for many organizations to make. Ironically, limiting privilege and access is an easy first step. The pain begins when IT and security teams look to solve problems like cyber hygiene and patching. That is where Zero Trust can show the true difficulty of the problem.
For Zero Trust to work, companies need to adopt a security posture that addresses every device, user, and asset and proactively addresses challenges that human operators are notoriously poor at overseeing. Patch management, configuration drift, software deployment — these issues routinely bleed organizations of resources and distract IT leaders from the strategy and innovation they should be focusing on.
Solving zero trust struggles
For most companies, Zero Trust takes place a layer removed from patch and configuration management and the other elements of cyber hygiene. But these issues are really intertwined. If your Zero Trust initiative is going to succeed, your cyber hygiene has to succeed first. Cloud-native, SaaS endpoint security and management is a natural part for Zero Trust — or any modern IT ecosystem. In recent years, Automox has watched the progression toward Zero Trust with excitement — but also with wariness, since some organizations are setting their Zero Trust initiatives up for failure by not devoting the necessary resources to security fundamentals.
Automox is a cloud-native cyber hygiene solution with support for Windows, macOS, and Linux from a single console. It enables continuous connectivity for local, cloud-hosted, and remote endpoint fleets with no need for on-premises infrastructure or tunneling back to the corporate network. In other words, Automox can help relieve the pain points inherent in a successful Zero Trust initiative (and cybersecurity more generally). It does this automatically and affordably.
For organizations under modernization and digital transformation pressures, Automox can be a powerful and resource-saving ally. It can remove an important pain point before the organization gets there, preserving the Zero Trust initiative and creating a sustainable, systemic security posture.
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