The recent mass shift to remote work will likely have lasting effects on how businesses run. Companies will sustain a work-from-home model, at least partially, so security professionals must adapt to this new workflow. One of the best ways to ensure remote team security is with a zero-trust model.
The idea of zero-trust security first emerged in 2010 and has since seen considerable adoption rates. Typically, these frameworks mean more work for those that implement them, but they offer enticing results. While no security system is perfect, these models are highly effective and ideal for a remote workforce.
In a traditional workflow, cybersecurity teams have the benefit of consistency. Employees use the same tools on the same work devices on the same work networks every day. When you're working with remote teams, you don't have that luxury.
Remote employees work from personal devices on a variety of networks, and not always the same ones. Workers could use unprotected public networks, potentially jeopardizing any data transfers, even if everyone else's connections are secure. There are far more variables and potential vulnerabilities than a traditional workplace.
To exacerbate the situation, hacking and phishing activity rose by 37% between February and March. Cyberthreats are growing, and remote teams, which are more vulnerable, need to account for it. At-home workers can't be too careful, and no cybersecurity approach is as cautious as zero trust.
To establish a zero-trust framework for remote workers, teams must first identify what they're protecting. Without defining all critical data, assets and services, any attempt to limit access to them will fall short. Next, security teams need to understand how data flows through the network to see where and how to protect it.
With full knowledge of the remote work model's flow, you can identify the bare minimum employees need. Then, design a system that silos data and assets according to this requirement. No employee should have access to something that isn't crucial for their job.
Frameworks should prohibit someone with access to a given silo from granting others access. Furthermore, tailoring access permissions at a granular level can significantly help organizations avoid significant workflow risks.
Security teams should install firewalls and other blocks around each data silo. Similarly, they should establish clear policies regarding how to verify access to each one. Every time a request on the network is denied or approved, it should correspond to a pre-established rule.
Implementing zero-trust frameworks in a work-from-home setting comes with some unique obstacles to overcome. Most notably, an effective zero-trust policy needs real-time user data to verify access. When workers are using various devices on several different networks, obtaining these readings can be challenging.
While remote teams don't have the advantage of working on a centralized network, they can mimic it using a single work platform. Running all work processes on one cloud-based system gives security teams end-to-end visibility and access to real-time data. This consolidation also makes it easier to enable restrictions since it reduces the number of access points.
Another challenge with remote teams is that they're prone to change. Employees may not use the same devices or network every day, so security systems need to account for flexibility. In light of these changes, frequent audits and automated threat detection may be in order.
A stunning 85% of surveyed CISOs say they sacrificed security to enable remote access faster. Companies shouldn't have to compromise safety for the convenience of at-home workflows. Zero-trust frameworks ensure they won't.
At the rate cybercrime is rising, remote teams can't take any chances. Zero trust is becoming less of a recommendation and more of a necessity.
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