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3 Common Zero Trust Misconceptions

11.16.22 | By Ascent

They’re selling, demoing, implementing, and road-mapping it, but what is Zero Trust really? Rather than mocking it as a marketing schtick, we would suggest asking a different question. What doesn’t Zero Trust cover? Just like a photo negative translates to a sharper image if it’s correctly treated in a dark room, outlining what Zero Trust IS NOT might clarify what it is and why that matters to your organization.

1: Zero Trust is a start-from-scratch technology deployment.

Even though you’ve likely heard Zero-Trust-branded vendors pitch technology modernization for your business through a software you don’t own yet but they provide, Zero Trust is not a product.

Rather than uprooting your security stack and replanting brand-new tools, Zero Trust optimizes the software your organization already leverages. It’s a framework created for strategic planning, enabling your organization to prioritize your security backlog. Zero Trust does require technology changes or adjustments, but often at the lower cost of consolidated and maximized technology already incorporated in your stack.

2: Zero Trust protects public-facing applications.

Although they often take the blame for a breach, IT only controls the technology within their organization’s environment, and even that oversight can be limited at the platform programming level. For example, the widespread Log4j vulnerability left many organizations at risk because a universal coding language, Java, was compromised.

To ensure the technology your IT team leverages is protected by modern security practices, allocating budget toward replacing legacy technology is essential. Modernized platforms also protect your organization’s internal work stream isn’t disrupted by malicious encryption or a breach.

Micro segmentation, an effort to separate software connections to increase hygiene, is an excellent Zero Trust practice to pursue. In practice, if a threat actor breaches a network through stolen credentials, he or she only has access to specific network segments the cyber victim also had access to, securing the rest of the cloud from the inside out.

3: Zero Trust guarantees which user is behind an active account on your system.

So much of Zero Trust hinges on identity security, a pathway to verifying who and what type of access your users are given. Since intellectual property often reaps hard cash if it’s leaked, businesses have the incentive to secure their stored data and cloud infrastructure.

Without the proper tools, though, a business’s IT team can only handle what it’s given. Updating multi-factor-authentication (MFA) process and incentivizing your employees to follow information security protocol is a huge step in the right direction, but it’s not perfect.

Written and digital policies are crucial to your business’s Zero Trust success. We would recommend reviewing user access policies and software-specific playbooks. Do your employees know (or have access to a written record) of what they should and shouldn’t be able to access? If an employee stumbles into or intentionally accesses confidential information, do you have a way to track his or her access route to prevent a future event? Is your IT team backing written policies with segmented infrastructure, stopping a lost employee in his or her steps before downloading a protected document?

Define your Zero Trust why

Pursue the next steps in your Zero Trust journey by defining the why for your employees. Visibility across the board could be as simple as a 30-minute walk-through of adjustments your team is making at an organizational level. Outlining the advantages of Zero Trust (increased security and decreased hoops to jump through) is essential to your users’ success.

Partner with our team to define Zero Trust quick wins for your business. Ascent’s Launchpad assessment starts where your organization may have paused, accelerating your journey without suggesting expensive bolted-on software. We take a different approach: optimizing your current stack and suggesting software displacement only if an integrated solution significantly improves your security posture, saving you money and time. Reach out to ZeroTrust@meetascent.com to learn more.

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