Zero Trust: Take Control of Your Privileged Access Before Hackers Do
One of the key attack vectors today is compromised endpoints and privileged credentials. Organizations can minimize their security risks by taking charge of privileged access before attackers do. And what better way to manage privileged access than implementing zero trust strategies?
Research suggests that implementing zero trust cybersecurity frameworks reduces the overall financial impact of a data breach by 42.3% – saving organizations USD 1.76 million! As a result, the shift to zero trust security models has become an organizational necessity today.
This article delves into how privileged access works with zero trust.
Zero Trust: An Overview
What is Zero Trust Security?
Zero trust is a cybersecurity model/ approach that assumes that the network and the IT infrastructure are always at risk to internal and external threats. It requires that organizations trust no one, within or outside the network and that everyone be verified before gaining access to the network, applications, data, systems, or any other mission-critical resources.
How Does it Work?
Zero trust security marks a shift towards least privilege access and away from the standing/ permanent privileges to certain user accounts. It helps prevent a wide range of cyberattacks from compromised credentials and misuse of privileged access.
- Logs and monitoring all requests and network traffic with granularity
- Limits and controls access to the network and other mission-critical assets
- Verifies requests and secures resources effectively
Why is it Needed?
Today, many organizations have shifted to digital, hybrid cloud environments to accommodate remote work, global collaboration, and seamless customer experiences. Cloud computing, mobile technologies, IoT devices, smart devices, virtualization, etc., are being widely leveraged to ensure easy, quick, and seamless access to resources. Organizations are widely using third-party software, shared components, open-source resources, etc. For instance, chatbots, CRM, ERP, open-source design components, etc.
Employees, scattered across the globe, are accessing organizational data, intellectual property, and other critical resources from their private (often unsecured networks), shared devices, and so on outside of the secure network perimeter of the physical office location.
There is a growing use of VPNs, especially among remote workers. However, VPN does not secure the network; it only extends access to and protects data in transit outside the secure enterprise network. It is an enablement tool and not a security tool. Further, VPN has several vulnerabilities that are also being exploited to orchestrate data breaches and exfiltrate data.
These factors have rendered traditional security controls and measures ineffective in the hybrid cloud and flexible IT architecture. What zero trust protection does is as follows:
- Continuous, flexible, and adaptive protection for and wrapping security around all users, data, and assets for every single connection
- Proactive management, faster detection, and effective prevention of threats
- Improved visibility and control over the IT architecture
- Improved network performance through traffic reduction on subnets
- Simpler and effective logging and monitoring owing to the granularity
Zero Trust Protection & Privileged Access
What is Privileged Access Management (PAM)?
Privileged accounts have higher permissions (and/or higher levels of influence, such as C-suite executives) and, as a result, higher security risks. For instance, local admin accounts, domain admin accounts, service accounts, C-level accounts, etc. If these accounts are compromised, attackers have larger gains, and organizations face greater costs. Organizations can ensure more secure access to sensitive data, intellectual property, and other mission-critical assets through privileged access management.
How to Implement Zero Trust to Take Control of Privileged Access?
While the zero-trust approach helps in averting several security crises and risks, it must not be treated as an end goal. Zero trust solutions and frameworks are important initial steps in building a robust, dynamic security model. By combining it with privileged access management, behavioral analytics, multi-factor authentication, biometrics, and so on, you gain the first-mover advantage in protecting your critical resources before attackers do.
Here are ways to apply zero trust into privileged access management:
- Enforce just-in-time, just-enough PAM for each user instead of permanent/ standing privileges. No user, including admins and C-suite executives, must have unlimited access to data and resources.
- Implement least privilege controls across all endpoint devices, including laptops, IoT devices, etc., even for privileged accounts. If elevated permissions are necessary, they must be provided through workflow approval.
- Remove all default usernames and passwords for privileged accounts, especially built-in accounts. Ensure complex and strong passwords are used.
- Every privileged/ authorized user must be authenticated through multi-factor authentication.
- Closely monitor, record, and track the activities of authorized logins. You can monitor anomalous and suspicious activities in real-time and take steps to stop them using privileged session managers.
- Keep the passwords of privileged accounts stored in encrypted, secure password vaults.
- The actual data against authorized accounts should be masked to ensure the highest data privacy, integrity, and security.
Without the cushioning of highly secure on-premise networks and protected company devices, standing privileges only cause undue security risks. Leverage advanced application security solutions like
Indusface AppTrana WAF that use futuristic technology like self-learning AI, automation, and analytics to apply zero trust principles, take control of privileged access and maximize enterprise security.