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5 Steps to Upgrade Your Cybersecurity with a Zero Trust Security Framework

Nessa is the head of a local organisation that was recently hit by a Ransomware attack where their network and data were encrypted. Regrettably, the organisation’s backup files were also affected during the attack. A message was left by the cybercriminals offering a decryption key in return for a ransom payment in Bitcoins. As the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) recommends that organisations do not pay a ransom request, this was not an option. Nessa’s organisation tirelessly worked with their IT team to find a decryption key or restorable backups but were unsuccessful in their search.

As their backups were encrypted their IT team were unable to restore the organisation’s systems resulting in a catastrophic loss of data. This meant that the organisation suffered large financial and data losses along with damage to their reputation. If Nessa’s organisation had implemented a Zero Trust Security model instead of traditional perimeter-based network security, the effects of the breach could have been drastically reduced.

What is Zero Trust Security and Why Does it Matter?

As more of us take advantage of hybrid working our approach to cybersecurity must adapt. This is due to security perimeters no longer being restricted to within the walls of a head office. Instead, networks are now local, cloud-based or a combination of both with data and users located at multiple sites that are not protected by company firewalls.

We recently introduced the concept of Zero Trust Security and its six core pillars that take a holistic approach to improving cybersecurity. The below diagram offers a short explanation on the differences between traditional perimeter-based network security and Zero Trust1.

 

Perimeter Based Network Security Diagram

Traditional perimeter-based network security

Traditional perimeter-based network security automatically trusts all users and devices within the organisation’s security perimeter.

This puts organisations at risk from internal malicious threats and stolen credentials from compromised accounts.

Zero Trust Security Diagram

Zero Trust Security

Zero Trust takes a ‘never trust, always verify’ approach where your users and systems define the perimeter.

No matter a user’s location, all access requests are constantly checked before entry is granted to systems and data.

 

As the use of cloud-based services, hybrid working and bring your own device (BYOD) increases, additional consideration must be taken on how and where users are securely accessing your services and data. In the process of reviewing data and system visibility, organisations on average learn that they have 20% more systems than was otherwise accounted for2. Zero Trust offers an increased awareness of your ‘actual’ system structure and data flows. Allowing for the creation of multiple security inspection points that block malicious or unauthorised access. This means that in the event of a cybersecurity incident a threat is contained and isolated, limiting any potential damage. With over 80% of all malicious attacks relating to credential use or misuse of a network the case for deploying a Zero Trust Security model within your organisation is impossible to ignore1.

A Quick Start Guide to Achieving Zero Trust Security 

Our Zero Trust Security quick start guide demonstrates the steps and considerations Nessa’s organisation should have taken to strengthen their defences and to secure their critical data3.

5 Steps to Upgrade Your Cybersecurity with a Zero Trust Security Framework - 01

Full Visibility of All Devices, Data and Systems

You can’t protect the invisible! Having full visibility of all devices, data and systems used by your organisation is the foundation of implementing Zero Trust Security. Without an accurate and real-time map of your current infrastructure it’s impossible to identify any gaps within your network security. The better visibility you have the easier it is to defend against malicious threats.

5 Steps to Upgrade Your Cybersecurity with a Zero Trust Security Framework - 02

Understand the Flow of Information Within Your Organisation

Users and systems will be constantly accessing your data both inside and outside of your head office. To effectively defend your data, you need to understand who is using it, what data is being used and what is being done with it. Having a good understanding of this enables the implementation of micro-perimeters, ensuring only legitimate flows of data are allowed.

5 Steps to Upgrade Your Cybersecurity with a Zero Trust Security Framework - 03

Define Your Zero Trust Security Micro-perimeters 

After understanding how your data flows within your organisation you can start to implement micro-perimeters or security checkpoints that only allow legitimate flows of data. Ensuring every system has its own micro-perimeter makes unauthorised lateral movement within your network much more difficult.

5 Steps to Upgrade Your Cybersecurity with a Zero Trust Security Framework - 04

Continuously Monitor Your Zero Trust Security Eco System

Once you have deployed your micro-perimeters and policies you should start to monitor all configurations and traffic. At first, monitoring will focus on understanding the necessary data flows. It will then move to monitoring for enforcement purposes where every access request is verified, and attempted attacks are proactively shut down.

5 Steps to Upgrade Your Cybersecurity with a Zero Trust Security Framework - 05

Adopt Automation and Safety Orchestration for Continued Protection

Monitoring and enforcing your micro-perimeters around-the-clock can be a challenge without automating your new network policies. Automation allows security changes to be deployed across multiple endpoints (computer or servers) in one go and frees your security team to focus on incident response. Only changes that fall outside of existing policies would need to be reviewed by your IT support partner and your organisation.

 

Partner With NCI Technologies to Implement Zero Trust Security in Your Organisation 

Zero Trust isn’t as complex as it may sound and can be made simpler by choosing the right provider to work in partnership with. This is where NCI Technologies can help. We understand that each organisation’s road map to implementing a Zero Trust Security framework will be unique. There will be varying requirements, existing technology and available resources that will need to be considered. Our IT security experts can evaluate your existing cybersecurity and help you to build a phased plan that works towards fully implementing Zero Trust. 

For more information on implementing Zero Trust Security within your organisation contact our friendly sales team.

Sources

1 https://www.crowdstrike.com/cybersecurity-101/zero-trust-security/

2https://www.computerweekly.com/news/252490393/Making-sense-of-zero-trust-security

3https://www.securitymagazine.com/articles/93349-five-practical-steps-to-implement-a-zero-trust-network

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