With the majority of employees across the UK expected to work from home until at least Spring 2021, businesses have been faced with an urgent need to extend their network into the homes of their staff.
Before the pandemic, many businesses were already migrating to offer more employees the chance to securely and efficiently work from home. But, thanks to Covid-19, the demand for WFH solutions has been turbocharged.
At the same time, the traditional boundaries of corporate networks have been suddenly eroded as the ‘always on’ generation of employees, now primarily working from home, require access to applications and resources that are not served well by restrictive network firewalls and VPNs.
Previous security solutions that focussed on securing the perimeter of a network are no longer enough. Businesses who want to thrive in 2021 and beyond must adopt a new approach to security that can thrive in a cloud-based environment.
Luckily, that approach has already been developed - and it’s known as ‘zero trust’ access architecture.
What is zero trust architecture?
Zero trust is a relatively new and evolving approach to security adopted and developed primarily by Microsoft to address the security challenges that come with cloud migration and a mobile workforce.
It’s based on the principle: never trust, always verify. It offers enhanced protection of sensitive data and resources in a remote working environment because access to applications and data is based on a continuous verification of identity and devices, rather than a perimeter-based password login security system.
The zero trust model requires that every element from user identity and devices to the network and application are validated and proven healthy and trustworthy before access is granted.
Do you need zero trust in your business?
Security should be a top priority for any business which has any proportion of its team working from home. Investing in the latest tech to keep data and systems safe is always an excellent business decision, but perhaps never more so that in current times.
If you’re wondering if zero trust is something you need to consider in your business, ask yourself the following questions...
Do you have employees working from home (in the short or long term)?
Are you currently relying on firewalls and VPNs (virtual private networks) to keep your network secure?
Have you migrated to the cloud as part of your work from home strategy?
If you answered yes to any of the above, zero trust is absolutely something your business needs.
Let’s take a look at the benefits zero trust architecture can bring…
1) It Improves the User Experience
Humans hate passwords. Trying to remember several deliberately-difficult-to-remember passphrases multiple times a day is frustrating. Worse, it reduces productivity and stifles creativity.
If employees write down complex passwords to avoid having to remember them - or if they change passwords to something easy to remember - it compromises security within your business. If employees forget their passwords, it takes precious time to troubleshoot it with IT.
Zero trust offers a simplified user experience that boosts security and minimises frustration and the strain on resources.
Users gain access to the applications they need using multi-factor authentication which eradicates the need for complex passwords. Productivity is boosted because continuous verification means users don’t need to frequently re-authenticate their access to applications.
This multi-factor authentication that lies at the heart of a zero trust approach to security is based on something the user knows (like a username and password) and something the user owns (like a device, key or their own biometrics).
In short, it’s a fantastic way to streamline user experience across devices and the network, while also improving security.
2) It Makes Cloud Migration Easier
Even before the pandemic hit, many businesses were seeking to modernise their infrastructure by moving to software-as-a-service (SaaS) and infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) platforms.
The problem with this transition is that it requires an alternative to perimeter-based security solutions and firewalls which were never designed with the cloud in mind. This has been a stumbling block for many organisations seeking to migrate to the cloud - but zero trust offers a workaround.
Zero trust means businesses with teams that work from home can embrace cloud computing without compromising on security. Zero trust cloud computing offers organisations a single point of control and authentication when it comes to cloud applications so that access can be customised for different users without impacting on experience.
3) It Increases Agility
A top priority for many businesses in the digital economy is agility. To be truly agile, employees need to be free to access the information and applications they need without interruption.
Often, though, there is interruption. Whether it is because systems have been shut down in response to a security breach, or a user has forgotten their password, traditional security measures are not conducive to business agility.
Zero trust makes agile working possible for businesses because it means security happens in the background. There are no perimeter security checks to get past, slowing down users and causing frustration. Instead, security is delivered continually and interruptions from checkpoints become a thing of the past.
4) It Takes the Pressure Off IT Teams
It is widely recognised that there is a shortage of IT personnel with the necessary skills to manage security. What’s more, the IT teams that do exist are frequently under vast amounts of pressure to cope with a growing workload - especially following a sudden increase in the amount of employees working from home.
Zero trust security helps take the pressure off IT teams because it streamlines operations. IT help desks often spend a significant amount of time each day dealing with requests for help with forgotten passwords and issues with access to applications. Implementing a zero trust security strategy drastically reduces these requests and frees up IT teams to focus on more business critical work.
5) It Improves Visibility
Zero trust gives businesses a never-seen-before insight into the communication that takes place within their network. That’s because the zero trust framework means that any attempt to communicate on a given network is assumed to be untrustworthy. If it can not be verified, access is not granted.
This inevitably gives businesses visibility that they never had with more traditional security measures. It helps them understand exactly what’s going on on their network, which is a key component when it comes to effectively reducing risk.
Would you like help working out if a zero trust architecture is right for your business? The experts at ITEC can help. Contact your local team today.