How Zero Trust Equips Your Company for Secure Remote Work

The zero trust approach assumes that every user and device is a threat, using micro-segmentation to limit access.

Between the high levels of productivity witnessed during the pandemic and a struggling labor market, companies don’t have much argument to support ending remote work. As managers get comfortable with permanently remote or hybrid teams, IT executives have been forced to address vulnerabilities related to dispersed workforces. For many, the solution has been zero trust.

Even before the pandemic, the traditional network perimeter was eroding. No longer were companies finding it possible to simply shore up defenses in a virtual fence line to keep hackers out and keep data in. Well before the nearly-universal shift to remote work took place, cloud adoption was changing the way networks applied security tools and strategies. A firewall was no longer cutting it.

Remote work only added to the complexity. Remote workers were still accessing cloud resources, but they were doing so on a home network that may include any number of unsecured devices. With many families sharing devices, unexpected vulnerabilities emerged, challenging security teams to find traction in their policies.

Zero Trust Changes Assumptions: The traditional perimeter makes the assumption that it is possible to keep malicious actors out of the network. Zero trust is an approach that makes the opposite assumption; not only can you expect that hackers will get in, but you should assume that every user is a malicious actor until proven otherwise.

Zero trust is not a specific solution or device. It doesn’t include a set list of actions to take to secure the network, but instead is a mindset that recognizes and assumes risk. While every company will incorporate zero trust practices a bit differently, there are a few common traits seen in most access strategies:

Least Privilege: By granting users access to only the tools and applications they require to do their jobs, you protect systems from user error and limit the access of a hacker if they obtain credentials to enter the network. It is most effective when used in domain controllers and domain administration in order to reduce the risk of a ransomware attack.

Micro-segmentation: Dividing the network into small segments helps limit the damage that an intruder can cause while also equipping your team with the applications they need to do their jobs. Micro-segmentation requires extensive mapping of data flows to determine how best to divide the network.

Multi-Factor Authentication: This step helps prevent hackers from disguising themselves as your employees. By requiring multiple pieces of authentication information, you greatly reduce the chances of a stolen set of credentials. Many companies require both a password and then a code that has been sent to the employee via short message service (SMS) messaging.

If your company is adjusting to the role of remote work in your cyber security plan, you may benefit from implementing zero trust practices. Contact us at IT to learn more.