Importance of Zero-Trust Cloud Security in the Age of Data Breaches

Sameer Danave, Senior Director Marketing, MSys Technologies | Wednesday, 19 July 2023, 14:13 IST

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Sameer is a seasoned technology marketing professional with 16 years of expertise. He prioritizes "Customer Value" and Communications as the core principles of his marketing campaigns. His strategies include omnichannel approaches, conversational marketing, social media engagement, and chatbot interactions.

Zero-Trust architecture has the potential to significantly enhance the safety of networks, systems, and devices by offering a granular, discrete, and dynamic approach to data security. 

With organizations prioritizing investments in cloud and hybrid-work models, vulnerability concerns related to data, devices, and users are constantly increasing. In 2022 alone, a 41% rise in ransomware attacks was registered, and the average cost of the data breach shot up to reach an exorbitant amount of $4.35 million. Further, with 90% of global technology partners bullish on adopting multi-cloud services, there is a compelling need to double down on security measures to protect the network infrastructures of firms. Against this backdrop of heightened safety concerns, the relevance of Zero-Trust architecture comes into the picture. The approach is crucial, and its game-changing potential is becoming apparent across business verticals and industries. 

What is it? 

Based on the assumption of " always under attack," the Zero-Trust architecture explicitly verifies each session to minimize instances of data breaches. In other words, it favors "Zero Trust" in anyone and "always verifies" whoever is trying to access the information. The philosophy aims to reduce enterprise attacks by employing strict controls, executing continuous verification, and offering holistic security across devices, systems, and network infrastructures. 

How to Build? 

While network teams are primarily responsible for building Zero-Trust security infrastructure in a company, the involvement of the security teams will complement the efforts and help develop a cohesive and holistic security policy in this regard. The first step to building Zero-Trust safety protocols is to list all users and devices with the help of an identity and access management tool. Setting up the access controls based on a firewall is the next step in devising the Zero-Trust architecture. This step results in micro-segmentation that creates a separating layer between different services, applications, and files in network systems. The third step involves deploying tools that will continuously assess the behaviors of the systems and devices and flag deviations on a real-time basis. Using new-age technologies, including AI, is beneficial as smart algorithms can easily detect anomalies and proactively alert the system about potential threats. The final step in conceptualizing the Zero-Trust policy is evaluating remote access so that proper authentication and security access can be granted to intended users. Further, it is recommended that organizations should address all the security vulnerabilities based on the data-centric approach and take special care of isolating the workloads when servers and machines move between different environments.

What are the requirements? 

Organizations must optimally combine foundational elements with technological solutions to successfully build and implement Zero-Trust security infrastructure. Some prerequisites for achieving desired results on Zero-Trust include identity and access management, network segmentation, and continuous monitoring and analytics systems. Further, companies also need access to authentication and authorization mechanisms, encryption technology, and end-to-end protection for offering desired protection under a Zero-Trust approach. 

Benefits of Zero-Trust Cloud Security 

a) Minimizing Attack Surface: By segmenting larger networks into small and discrete units,  Zero-Trust reduces the attack surface and minimizes lateral moment and subsequent damages to the networks, systems, and programs in case of a data breach. The split approach is beneficial in containing the harmful impacts of cyberattacks and limiting the damage only to the specific segment or block. 

b) Mitigating Threats: Based on the assumption of Zero-Trust, the approach considers every element in the networks and systems untrustworthy. This philosophy shields organizations from external threats and proves very effective in countering security challenges from inside the company. Coupled with this, the least privilege mechanism, granular access, and continuous monitoring help firms quickly identify, detect, and address cyberattacks emanating from both internal and external environments. 

c) Adaptive security: By using continuous monitoring and assessment of the network, systems, and user behaviours, Zero-Trust security can quickly identify threat perceptions and suggest remedial measures for the same. Integrating smart algorithms, AI, and ML in the approach can help offer adaptive security and enhance the real-time response of the networks. 

d) Cloud Access and Migration: Zero-Trust helps firms to switch to cloud infrastructure by offering them a safe and secure transition/collaborating environment. The architecture ensures that the security credentials of cloud-based apps and programs are continuously assessed, anomalies are detected, and threats are blocked proactively. 

e) Meeting Compliance: Zero-Trust is also helpful in meeting compliances by generating detailed reports on audits, data encryption, access controls, and network securities, among others. Meeting these statutory requirements also adds to the firm's brand equity and helps it further cement its image in the minds of target audiences.

The Zero-Trust Cloud Security approach has the potential to completely transform the safety and security scenario of cloud-based infrastructures and the like. It is touted to be the next game-changer in the cyber security domain and by offering continuous assessment, verification, and monitoring, organizations using the Zero-Trust approach can protect themselves from unauthorized data breaches and mitigate the risks associated with the cloud-based data operations.

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