ZERO TRUST: Implementing Hybrid Work Means Increasing Network Security

Devices. Users. Systems. Applications. Keeping them safe, secure, and protected within the work environment has always been a challenge. Increasing risks and new threats have kept IT departments both active and vigilant.

But while cybersecurity has evolved at a significant pace, it has reached a fever pitch in the past couple of years with the evolution of hybrid and remote work. Keeping networks, information, and devices secure has become even more challenging than ever.

Zero trust security isn’t new in the world of data protection and network access, but it has taken on a new level of importance. So what is it, why should it be used, and how has hybrid work accelerated its adoption?

What Is Zero Trust?

The traditional approach to securing networks was “trust but verify.” This is based on the assumption that, with most employees working in one place (i.e., a physical office), the existing security architecture would be sufficient to control and protect the network and the flow of information coming in or going out.

The zero trust security model goes several steps further. This “never trust, always verify” approach is comprehensive. It works on the premise that incoming and outgoing data and their respective digital ecosystems must be continuously monitored, tested, and protected. No assumptions of safety or security can be made. In a zero-trust model, users and devices are authenticated, authorized, and validated before access to network applications or data.

Why Use Zero Trust?

While it naturally makes sense for those enterprises who need to safeguard sensitive data to implement a zero-trust model — think finance or government — the truth is that virtually every business should consider adopting one. Here’s why: it ensures a responsive and robust security network. Threats can be more quickly isolated, and compromised assets can be more easily investigated.

Studies have shown that the average cost of a single data breach is over $3 million. Considering that figure, it should be no surprise that many organizations are now eager to adopt a zero-trust security policy.

There is also an overarching and crucial human element behind this. All it takes is one compromised password or an innocent click on a seemingly benign link, and a company’s entire network can be shut down or, worse, held hostage.

Even with the best training and intentions, not everyone within an organization will understand – or know how to respond to – phishing scams or cyberattacks. A business can have the best tools and technology in place, but staff also need to be made aware of their security habits and how making small changes can make a big difference.

Zero Trust Core Principles

In a zero-trust approach, the network is considered compromised and, therefore, hostile. Core principles of a zero-trust architecture include:

  • Micro-segmentation – Micro-segmentation is a network security technique that enables security architects to logically divide the data center into distinct security segments. Segments go down to the individual workload level and then define security controls and deliver services for each unique segment. By tying fine-grained security policies to individual workloads, micro-segmentation software limits an attacker’s ability to move laterally through a network, even after infiltrating the perimeter defenses.
  • Least privilege – The principle of “least privilege” addresses access control. It states that an individual should have only minimum access privileges necessary to perform a specific job or task.  One of the benefits of practicing least privilege is that it reduces an organization’s attack surface.  Attack surface refers to all entry points through which an attacker could potentially gain unauthorized access to a network or system to extract or enter data or carry out other malicious activities. A broad attack surface is challenging for organizations to defend.
  • Preventing lateral movement – In network security, “lateral movement” is when an attacker moves within a network after gaining access. Lateral movement can be difficult to detect even if the attacker’s entry point is discovered. Especially, if an attacker goes on to compromise other parts of the network.  Zero-trust is designed to contain attackers so that they cannot move laterally. In a zero-trust network, access is segmented and must be re-established periodically. An attacker cannot move across to other microsegments within the network. Once the attacker’s presence is detected, the compromised device or user account can be quarantined and cut off from further access. 

Hybrid Work & Zero Trust Adoption

The zero trust security model isn’t new, with several large enterprises having adopted it over the years. Google brought in zero-trust architecture as early as 2009. The addition of exponential growth in mobile computing and cloud-based services further added to zero trust’s adoption and growth

However, in the past two years, we’ve seen work environments shift from a singular, contained location to a “work from anywhere” scenario. This new way of working means the flow of information is accessed through various sources, including cloud-based and remote servers. And there are virtually thousands of devices in use at any given time. As a result, tracking and monitoring who is coming in and what is going out have become significantly more problematic.

IT departments in large-scale enterprises have refocused their efforts on how they can better reinforce and protect their networks, assets, data, and devices. Business leaders are also keenly aware of the vulnerability of sensitive information and have increased their efforts to ensure steps are taken to combat threats and safeguard systems.

How Ramp Supports Zero Trust Networks

With end-to-end encryption, all user and viewer data stay private to mitigate potential risk. Ramp ensures you get complete privacy with zero compromises on performance.

Through multicast and caching, Ramp also offers the most secure eCDN. Deployed 100% behind the firewall, on either virtual or physical servers. This means there are no cloud components or external modules that can compromise network security.

Although P2P does not support zero trust networks, Ramp’s P2P technology provides a high-level of security. Using a dynamic approach Ramp solves the mDNS challenge with P2P. Ramp’s P2P solution maintains performance and security without the need for local 3rd party software on each end-user device.

Ramp complies with national and global regulations such as GDPR, HIPAA, CCPA, and COPPA. The privacy of your organization’s data is critical, and we don’t store any sensitive information, ensuring your organization is never put at risk.

If your organization is adopting a zero trust architecture, download our Security Whitepaper or contact us to see how Ramp can help.