3 Benefits of ‘Zero Trust’ Cybersecurity for Protecting Customer Information

3 Benefits of ‘Zero Trust’ Cybersecurity for Protecting Customer Information


Lower breach potential. Increase trust.


5 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


Cybersecurity threats can come from both outside, as well as inside, an organization. Threats can also start from a single point and spread out. This is why adopting a “never trust, always verify” approach to security can help organizations shield against the bad guys in a more robust manner.

The concept of Zero Trust, also referred to as Zero Trust Networking, has caught on in the security community. And it’s not for nothing. It offers immense benefits to businesses, which every security pro can confirm. But because it has to be integrated with the rest of the business, heads of security may have to demonstrate its effectiveness to their top brass.

Related: The Dark Web? Why Small Businesses Should Concern Themselves With the Threat.

What is Zero Trust?

Traditionally, business information protection involved installing a strong fence between the business and the outside world and manning the perimeter all day. Assuming inside information itself was safe, the business only needed to “keep out the bad guys,” making the security protocols straightforward.

Data security experts, however, warn that this approach is flawed. Some of the most expensive data breaches were perpetrated only because the hackers accessed internal systems. Once they did, they could easily move through and around them, compromising confidential information.

Adopting the Zero Trust Networking approach to security will serve well the needs of both corporations and consumers. To truly protect their own and their customer’s data, organizations must not trust any activity that might take place either inside or outside of their networks. Instead, they should verify every request to access their networks to ensure it’s safe.

To make the enterprise IT environment safe, organizations can utilize a number of technologies and protocols. Leveraging these security technologies — including IAM (Identity and Access Management), multi-factor authentication, encryption, analytics, orchestration, scoring and file system permissions — Zero Trust makes it easier for businesses to be more vigilant about access to information, ensuring data security.

With so much data being collected every day — 90 percent of it in the last three years — consumers should know how Zero Trust helps secure their information.

Here’s how:

1. It lowers breach potential.

The average cost of a data breach is $3.86 million, according to a recent report by Ponemon Institute and IBM. That’s a lot for a single breach, and businesses obviously care about such losses.

But what about the impact on the customer? In some cases, data breaches have destroyed customer trust in companies. While people don’t care much about privacy 70 percent of the time, Hotspot Shield — one of the world’s largest Internet Privacy Platforms — has found that the remaining 30 percent ardently protect it, especially if it’s information concerning their health, wealth and family.

To lower breach potential, Zero Trust focuses on the application workload rather than the perimeter or endpoint. In this model, the network continuously checks the workloads against their intended states. Anytime a workload fails to match its state, its communication with the rest of the system is halted. Any alteration, whether from accident, misuse or adversarial activity, is a signal for automatic distrust by the system until the situation is corrected, following prescribed policies.

While this doesn’t mean all information will be completely safe with the organization, it should give the consumer a greater peace of mind.

Related: Millennials are Less Concerned About Data Security Risk

2. It gives the organization better control over cloud environment.

Information security doesn’t work in isolation. Unlike in the past, when companies had corporate data centers serving a small system network, today some applications are stored locally, on premises, while others are in the cloud, allowing user access from different devices, possibly from anywhere in the world.

But security experts have a long-held concern about migrating to and using the cloud — loss of control. Information security remains a shared responsibility between the Cloud Service Provider (CSP) and the client company. As a result, security teams don’t get as much control over the network as would be ideal.

Focusing on the workload rather than guarding the perimeter, Zero Trust gives security teams a greater ability to detect deviations within the workload, which are easy to spot. It’s designed to allow the network to communicate with only the verified workloads.

3. It boosts compliance and improves trust.

While security teams know that compliance doesn’t necessarily reflect information security in the organization, they know how much it matters to auditors. Hasty audits can cause disruption and huge financial impact.

IT audits, most of all, are designed to expose technological weaknesses in the organization. Any issues concerning data and the systems that handle it are subject to scrutiny. Any hole the security team seals before the audit contributes to a smoother audit process and generally better protection for the network.

With Zero Trust, it’s not just the auditors, but also members of the organization, who can see and understand the organization’s data flow as they interact securely within the network. This level of transparency increases the consumer’s trust in the brand. They can breathe easier, knowing their confidential information is much safer with Zero Trust than it would be anywhere else.

Related: 4 Things You Need to Do to Ensure Secure File-Sharing at Your Company

Conclusion.

Responding to modern security threats, some enterprises are already using parts of Zero Trust Networking like IAM, multi-factor authentication, permissioning and micro-segmentation.

Beyond the implementation of Zero Trust Networking, however, organizations should leverage their enhanced approach to data security to demonstrate to consumers their proactive efforts to protect consumers’ confidential information.

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