Last week, dx5 (formerly CIO Africa) hosted the Africa Smart Cloud and Security Summit in Nairobi. This summit brought about 300 IT and Cybersecurity professionals to discuss trends in cloud computing and cybersecurity in Africa. One of the key themes that emerged from the summit was the need for organisations to consider a Zero Trust security approach to securing their most valued asset, data.
What is Zero Trust?
Zero Trust is a security model that assumes that every user, device, and application is a potential threat until proven otherwise. Unlike traditional security models, where access is granted based on a user’s location or network, Zero Trust ensures that users are authenticated and authorized before granting access to resources. Zero Trust is not a technology or an appliance, but rather a security framework that requires a fundamental shift in the way organizations think about security.
Zero Trust is Built Layer by Layer from the Ground Up
Zero Trust is not a single solution that can be implemented overnight. Rather, it’s a journey that requires organizations to build their security layer by layer, from the ground up. The first step in the Zero Trust journey is to understand where your critical data resides. Unfortunately, research shows that only 7 per cent of organizations know where their critical data is, which means they are unable to protect what they don’t know. Therefore, data discovery and classification should be the starting point of any Zero Trust implementation. Consider other existing applications and infrastructure and how your implementation of this model will impact existing users and applications.
Zero Trust is About Identity and Access
At the core of Zero Trust is the principle of identity and access. In a Zero Trust environment, only the right users can come in, with only the right access, with access to only the right data, and for the right reasons. This requires a layered approach that includes controls such as Identity Governance, Identity Analytics, Privileged Account Management, Access Management, and Adaptive Authentication. Identity Governance ensures that user accounts and access rights are managed and reviewed regularly. Identity Analytics provides visibility into user behavior and identifies anomalies that could indicate a security threat.
Privileged Account Management restricts access to high-privileged accounts and monitors their activity. Access Management ensures that users are authenticated and authorized before they are granted access to resources. Finally, Adaptive Authentication uses machine learning to continuously evaluate the risk associated with a particular access attempt and adjust the authentication requirements accordingly.
In a Zero Trust environment, data is probably the most critical component. How do you control access to your data? There are several ways to control access to data. This may include encryption, data and file management, key management, data risk insights, and transactional fraud. Encryption protects data from unauthorized access, whether it’s in transit or at rest. Data and file management ensures that data is stored and accessed in a secure manner. Key management ensures that encryption keys are managed and protected. Data risk insights provide real-time visibility into data-related risks and threats, and transactional fraud detects and prevents fraudulent transactions.
Why Zero Trust is Critical for Modern-Day Businesses
Zero Trust is critical for modern-day businesses because it helps them protect their assets, their customers, and their reputation. In today’s hyper-connected world, where remote working and cloud computing are becoming the norm, traditional security models are no longer adequate. Zero Trust ensures that users are authenticated and authorized before granting access to resources, regardless of their location or network. This reduces the risk of data breaches, insider threats, and cyberattacks.
Moreover, Zero Trust provides organizations with real-time visibility into their security posture. By implementing data discovery and classification, identity and access controls, and data controls, organizations can gain a holistic view of their security environment. This enables them to identify vulnerabilities and respond to threats before they become critical.
Zero Trust is not a buzzword or a silver bullet that can solve all your security challenges. It’s a security framework that requires a fundamental shift in the way organizations think about security. It requires a layered approach that includes data discovery and classification, identity and access controls, and data controls. By adopting a Zero Trust approach, organizations can build a secure and resilient network that can withstand the constantly evolving threat landscape. The journey to Zero Trust is not easy, but it’s a journey that organizations must take to protect their critial digital assets.