The ecological environment in which businesses function today is completely different from the one a few years ago. Much like Darwin’s theory of evolution, even the business world is evolving; right from employees and applications to official devices, nothing is tucked between the corporate perimeter anymore.
Everything is at risk, and trust is paramount. But the pertinent question is, can you “trust” your networks and assume they are “safe” from cyber-attacks? Businesses are finding it difficult to safeguard their sensitive data against cyberattacks. No matter the business size, every business, and every organization is prone to such malicious attacks.
In 2019, a social media giant like Facebook also fell victim to a cyberattack, wherein 540 million user records were publicly exposed on Amazon’s cloud computing service. Given the alarming increase in cyberattacks of this magnitude, businesses are securing their sensitive data by adopting a “Zero Trust” model.
Unravelling the Zero Trust policy
Created by John Kindervag in 2010, Zero Trust is a security concept that believes organizations are under no obligation to blindly trust anything inside or outside its perimeters. In other words, anything and everything should be verified, before access is given to any user. Simply put, the model stresses on the fact: don’t trust anyone.
Consider this: As per the 2017 Annual Cybercrime Report from Cybersecurity Ventures, cybercrime is predicted to cost the world $6 trillion by 2021. With just a few months left for the new year, this might end up being a reality, if businesses and organizations don’t wake up now and take ownership of their systems.
The traditional castle and moat approach towards system security is moot. As per this model, organizations believe everything inside their security perimeters is secure and access to their systems can be easily given. However, security experts kick this approach to the curb by remarking about some of the most egregious data breaches, which have given hackers freeway to sensitive data.
Just like judicial courts function on the underlying motto of “innocent unless proven guilty”, even the zero trust model assumes that every user, server, and request is to remain untrusted unless proven otherwise. Through the implementation of this approach, hackers and cybercriminals are deterred from exploiting perimeter weaknesses and hacking into confidential data zones.
Why should e-commerce businesses adopt the Zero Trust model?
The Zero Trust model is more than just a line of defense model. Through its implementation, organizations can seek to gain and deliver considerable business value in terms of the following:
- Greater enterprise visibility
- Relaxed security workloads
- Reduced IT complexity
- Data protection
- Enhanced user experience
- Support for cloud migration
E-commerce websites are like an online store, wherein everything is hosted on the Internet, literally. In an ideal situation, if a hacker/spammer is able to get through your store’s website, just imagine the level of disarray and harm they can cause your customers, who might have stored their personal and financial information online.
In the good old days, buyers were advised to look for the good ol’ green lock, in order to check the validity of the website’s URL. Since nothing remains constant, what one needs to know is that legitimate websites with HTTPS support are also vulnerable, and so are the ones with SSL/TLS certificates.
To supplement this further, in order to check the site’s authenticity, you can click on the padlock and check the certificate. This way, the site visitor can check the validity of the certificate, when it was issued along with other details.
Another alternate method is to have a look at the URL of the website to look for typos or misleading addresses. Zero Trust has changed the outlook of e-commerce websites, and there is a lot at risk with these online shopping sites.
Lesser risk via asset discovery and improved visibility
Many organizations are not aware of the kind of data they possess, where it is stored, and how it travels from the source to the destination. After all, if one isn’t aware of these crucial points, how can they ensure data security?
Given the proliferation rate of different devices like mobile phones, IoT, and new applications, IT teams are under a lot of pressure to achieve 100% visibility on every data packet traveling through their business network.
This is where the zero trust security model plays an important role. One of the major benefits of this model is to investigate and identify applications or services attempting to communicate within the network before allowing them access.
IT teams can use this model to eliminate unauthorized access and further provide a detailed report of the connections traveling through a specific network. Rest assured, this translates into a better visibility network for businesses and organizations alike.
Greater Control within the Cloud
The cloud might be associated with greater efficiency, enhanced scalability, and better performance, but it also brings loss of control and lack of visibility. The workload security continues to remain a shared component between the cloud service providers’ and the organizations using the cloud.
The zero networking model has been built keeping in mind the different platforms of data storage, which also includes public and hybrid clouds. Through this network, communication is restricted and workloads are identified by identity fingerprint only. Since zero trust is application workload centric, technology and security teams are able to get better control over their application workload.
The moment a workload fails the initial test, all communication requests are immediately blocked. This way, attackers are unable to decipher the east-west/lateral movement, which is usually a common functionality within the hacking process.
Achieving Lesser Data Breaches
The zero trust network is tailor-made to inspect workloads for any kind of inherent deviations from the normal state. Unverified communication attempts are blocked in the first go, and any altered service or application can be verified through a set of policies and procedures. Additionally, post verification, communication will be restricted to a need to know basis only, to avoid any kind of account takeovers and data breaches. This translates into a reduction in the clean-up costs and further mitigation of cyber risk.
Assist Compliance Audit Initiatives
Compliance is not equal to security; failed technological and security audits can have heavy impacts on a business’s financial health. For this very reason, security teams are required to play fairly in the audit ring. IT audits are usually geared towards highlighting technology kinks in the existing security systems. This would mean that any data accesses or the systems that facilitate security would automatically come under the scrutiny radar.
With the implementation of the zero trust model, auditors are able to achieve a clearer picture of an organization’s data flows and further note how the workloads are communicating with the systems. Through this model, an auditor can limit the number of places network communications can be exploited and create remediation strategies to narrow down attack points.
The benefits of the zero trust model are not restricted to the ones listed above. However, the main idea is to understand how the model is equipped to envelop applications in a protection layer, and how each application is registered with an identity fingerprint.Without the verification of the identity fingerprint, the communication process is halted and it can’t be breached that easily. An ideal model solution to avoid the ongoing security breaches and reduce the financial costs associated with