Authored by: Mike Waring is Regional Director for Asia Pacific at Pulse Secure
The current pandemic situation has compelled organizations worldwide to take advantage of workforce mobility and remote connectivity while managing increasing security risks and data protection obligations.
The need for a holistic policy framework which can effectively manage security issues across a highly distributed workforce has become more apparent than ever before.
While the traditional approach to security had been offering remote workers the means to access the corporate network through a secure tunnels, they were largely designed and deployed based on the notion of a network perimeter.
Organizations are increasingly phasing out their traditional security models for a Zero Trust approach, which secures access to individual applications with an “authenticate first, then connect” approach so that only authorized users and their authorized devices can access specific resources.
To ensure security, rigorous authentication and authorization is built in before and during a connection, and each connection is one-to-one and secured on-demand. And, during this process, each endpoint is checked for the correct operating system, whether the device has personal firewall software enabled, and even for the right browser patch levels. Doing so significantly reduces the chance of malware getting into the network.
By securely exposing access to resources to authorized users and devices, other applications and resources are rendered invisible or “dark”, thereby reducing the attack surface dramatically.
Trusts no one
Simply put, Zero Trust is a network security model that trusts no one, regardless of their location.
Increasingly, trust can no longer be established based on whether a user is “inside” or “outside” the network. Every user is vetted before and during a connection, and every connection is governed by a policy that controls what resources can be accessed.
Through implementing the Zero Trust framework, organizations can elevate their security posture while maximizing remote workforce productivity by validating users and their devices’ security posture, controlling access through granular policy enforcement, and protecting and encrypting data transactions.
Accountability in a distributed workforce
Keeping employees accountable, informed and motivated while working remotely has become a key challenge for many organizations since the COVID-19 health crisis began.
At the same time, cybercriminals have also been quick in exploiting the pandemic to spread their malicious deeds.
Hackers have been observed escalating efforts in the midst of the crisis. Their targets range from financial organizations and cryptocurrency exchanges to public organizations such as hospitals and energy companies.
With Zero Trust, IT Managers can enforce security standards that require full authentication and authorization of employees and contractors, and using end-to-end security policies that govern every user connection to an application.
Maintaining regulatory compliance in challenging times
Organizations in regulated industries, such as banking and healthcare, have a complex network of oversight entities that require a greater degree of transparency and compliance.
With Zero Trust, IT teams can enable better visibility throughout their organizations’ infrastructure, making compliance easier to manage.
Even within secure networks, It is vital to incorporate ways to control access with centralized policy management that ensures users can only access the required resources throughout the data center, cloud and SaaS.
By understanding what users are accessing within their own ecosystem, IT teams have an extra layer of security when managing complex permissions, and that helps mitigate the risk of insider threats.
For those that need to enforce a wide number of permissions and clearances, data visibility and user access management is critical to maintaining operational continuity as well as adhering to reporting and oversight requirements.
Simplified, modular approach to enforcing Zero Trust control
Organizations looking to implement Zero Trust should adopt an integrated suite of solutions that offers a simplified, modular and seamless approach that modernizes access productivity, management and control.
The suite should help businesses, regardless of sizes and industries, consolidate disparate security access tools for secure and seamless access to applications and resources from any location, network and device.
The following criteria or checklist can prove useful during the evaluation process:
Secure remote and cloud access with Zero Trust policy enforcement
Multi-factor authentication (MFA) and single sign-on (SSO)
Device compliance and mobile device management (MDM)
Endpoint and IoT device profiler, and network access control (NAC)
User and Entity Behavior Analytics (UEBA) and anomaly detection
Application delivery controller (ADC) and Web Application Firewall (WAF)
Optimal Gateway Selection (OGS)
High availability and business continuity options
The solution should also offer a streamlined user experience, enhance security compliance and a reduced total cost of ownership. It should also be interoperable with the existing network, cloud and security infrastructure while supporting a hybrid IT model and a vast array of applications.
Following these guidelines should create a safe and compliant environment for the organization and its remote workers, while affording them peace of mind to focus on their jobs and increase work productivity no matter where they are.