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Why companies need zero trust security for hybrid work

img security iStock 866609676
img security iStock 866609676

The cybersecurity landscape has never been more complicated than it is today. Ever since the mass shift to hybrid work, companies have had to grapple with a number of new challenges related to managing and protecting their networks. Although hybrid working arrangements can increase employee autonomy and increase productivity, they can leave companies open to a slew of security risks. 

What are the security risks of hybrid work?

The biggest risk of hybrid work is the increased attack surface. With data and resources being accessed from multiple locations, attackers have more entry points into company systems. Hybrid workers may access company data from insecure home networks, unsecured mobile devices, or from public Wi-Fi connections. Without visibility into the type of activities that occur on these systems, companies risk leaving their data vulnerable to attack.

What’s more, remote employees are no longer protected by the company’s internal security safeguards. This means employees are more vulnerable to a wide range of cyberthreats, such as malware and man-in-the-middle attacks.

Hybrid working environments may also invite insider threats. Employees may have greater access to sensitive data and systems from remote locations, making it easier for them to steal information or cause damage to the organization. Some employees could even use unsanctioned and unvetted applications or services to get their work done, which can further increase the risk of security breaches.

How can a zero trust approach mitigate security risks?

A zero trust security framework assumes that all users, regardless of whether or not they are inside the corporate network, must be verified and authenticated before being granted access to company data. Everything from the user’s identity, location, device, and the application they’re trying to access is monitored and verified. This helps organizations ensure that only legitimate users have access to their resources, and any suspicious activities are identified quickly.

Deploying a zero trust security framework comes with many distinct advantages. For starters, it can help reduce the risk of data breaches and other security incidents, as it assumes that no one is trusted by default and it also implements strict access controls. By limiting access to only those who need it, a zero trust framework can prevent unauthorized access to data and prevent insider data leaks. Additionally, it encourages better security hygiene among employees, such as using strong passwords and avoiding accessing corporate data on public networks.

More importantly, a zero trust approach goes beyond traditional security measures that can only protect those inside the company network; they can also protect those working remotely. For example, companies can set policies regarding what types of applications or data employees can access when they’re connected to a network from outside the company. This helps to ensure that employees are only accessing approved resources from safe locations and devices.

How do you set up a zero trust security framework?

To set up zero trust security for hybrid work, you need to do the following:

  1. Take stock of your data – The first step in setting up a zero trust framework is to identify and classify your data. This will help you determine who needs access to specific data, which data is most sensitive, and what protections are needed.
  2. Implement strong authentication protocols – Strong authentication protocols are vital for a zero trust framework. Such protocols include enforcing industry-standard password requirements (e.g., 12-character minimum length, special characters, upper- and lower-case letters, etc.) when employees set up their accounts. On top of these, you should enable multifactor authentication so your systems can fully verify a user’s identity before granting access.
  3. Utilize role-based access controls (RBACs)RBACs can help you restrict access to resources based on a user’s roles and permissions. This ensures that users can only access applications and data that is relevant to and necessary for their job. A sales coordinator, for example, may need access to customer data, but they shouldn’t have access to the company’s HR and financial data.
  4. Set conditional access policies – Conditional access policies are rules that determine who can access an organization’s resources and from where. Companies can set up rules to block risky activities, such as limiting access to corporate data over public Wi-Fi networks. Policies can even block access to devices that are out of date or aren’t compliant with the company’s security guidelines (i.e., jailbroken devices).
  5. Encrypt data at rest and in transitEncrypt sensitive information, such as financial data both at rest (i.e., stored) and in transit. This will prevent attackers from stealing or tampering with the data.
  6. Monitor and analyze user behavior – You need to regularly track login attempts, access requests, and data transfers. By doing so, you can detect suspicious behavior and take action before a security incident occurs.

If establishing a zero trust security framework seems overwhelming for your business, you can always get some professional help. In-Touch Computer Services can protect your hybrid workforce from data breaches and security attacks with our comprehensive zero trust solutions and expertise. Contact us now to get the protection your business deserves.