Undoubtedly, data is one of the most valuable resources of the 21st century. It has quickly become an important driving factor of informed decisions on all scales, especially for innovations and economic growth. While data has been an essential component of emerging technologies, reducing costs, increasing flexibility, and improving IT capabilities, its growing volume on a broader attack surface is increasing the need for data privacy and protection.
Safeguarding confidential data is a shared responsibility, especially for businesses managing data. It is unsurprising that traditional corporate perimeters in modern cloud environments exponentially increase the attack surface and cannot address today’s sophisticated threats and protecting applications. Preventing data loss is no mean feat and requires a new approach to security. Organizations are concerned about closing the security gaps to reduce the risk of heavy consequences and reputational damage. So how are leading organizations addressing these challenges? Many are turning to ‘Zero Trust’.
It is necessary to view the complete enterprise security and IT infrastructure through zero trust to simplify compliance, make data protection painless, and gain more value from the existing identity, network, and security systems. Here are the top three benefits of how a simple change of approach can help protect data and the entire network:
· Reducing the risk of data breaches – Zero trust solutions uncover the assets on the network and how they communicate. Following the principle of least privilege, it stops all applications and services from sharing until every request, user and device are authenticated, and permissions are reassessed before ‘trust’ is granted. It further reduces risk by continuously checking the credentials of every communicating asset. Thus, an attacker entering the organization’s network or cloud through a compromised device or other vulnerability will not have access to steal the data. Moreover, the attacker will have nowhere to go because the zero-trust model creates a ‘secure segment of one’ with no way to move laterally.
· Providing control over cloud and container environments – There is only so much an organization can do to protect its workloads since workload security remains a shared responsibility between an organization and its cloud service provider. Access management and loss of visibility are, thus, one of the greatest fears for organizations when they move to the cloud. With a zero-trust security architecture, security policies are applied and tied directly to the workloads. The assets that need protection are unaffected by network constructs like IP addresses, ports, and protocols. Even as the environment changes, this protection travels with the workload and remains constant.
· Supporting compliance initiatives – Zero trust shields all user and workload connections from the internet to avoid exposure or exploitation. It makes it easier to demonstrate compliance with privacy standards and regulations and results in fewer findings during audits. Furthermore, micro-segmentation creates perimeters around sensitive data using fine-grained controls to separate regulated and non-regulated data. It provides superior visibility and control compared to the overprivileged access of many flat network architectures in the event of a data breach.
A zero trust strategy thus delivers security as a cloud service at the edge, closer to where the user is located, eliminating backhauling and minimizing the number of hops between the user and their intended destination, thereby reducing latency and improving the user experience.
Understanding the importance of a zero trust approach for data privacy, and adopting a comprehensive zero trust exchange platform is helping organizations secure their networks and protect sensitive data, with rigorous authentication and authorization controls based on the principle of ‘trust nothing, verify everything’. By mitigating the impact and severity of cyberattacks and reducing the time and cost of responding to and cleaning up after a breach, it enables employees and customers to get fast, reliable connections wherever they are without ever being placed directly on the organization’s network.
Success starts with security, and security starts with zero trust. As we observe Data Privacy Day in 2023, it is important to remember that protecting sensitive data is not just about keeping it out of the wrong hands but also about ensuring that only authorized individuals have access to it. A zero trust architecture is an essential aspect of data privacy and will increasingly take center stage in shaping the future of cybersecurity in India.
(The author is Mr. Ananth Nag, Senior Regional Vice President, Zscaler, India and the views expressed in this article are her own)