Digital business transformation is changing not only how we work, but also from where. It’s a boon for business. But it can escalate risk too. As you look to secure remote access, you’re probably asking what is Zero Trust Security? Small businesses may also incorrectly assume Zero Trust Networking is only for enterprises.
Zero Trust Security is a more rigorous security approach that has evolved to see the needs of today’s organizations online, regardless of their size. Remote users want access to systems, services, application programming interfaces, data and processes. Plus, they want it anywhere, anytime, and from any Internet connected device. This can aid productivity and encourage collaboration.
However, expanding access opportunities for authorized users also expands the surface area for attackers. Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA) helps address this concern.
First, you need to better understand why it’s needed. Traditional networks, virtual private networks, and demilitarized zone architecture, use IP addresses and network locations to establish access. Yet these access points are often configured “to allow excessive implicit trust and unpatched vulnerabilities, leaving enterprises at risk for attack.”
What is Zero Trust Security?
So, that’s why ZTNA is required. But what exactly is Zero Trust Security? As Gartner describes this approach, it:
- Provides adaptive, identity-aware, precision access
- Replaces network location as a position of advantage with explicit identity-based trust.
- Improves the flexibility, agility and scalability of application access
- Enables digital business to thrive without exposing internal applications directly to the internet, reducing risk of attack.
The Zero Trust Architecture model, created in 2010 by John Kindervag, is moving into the mainstream. As attacks grow more sophisticated, organizations are under increasing pressure to protect systems and data.
To clarify, “Zero Trust is a security concept centered on the belief that organizations should not automatically trust anything inside or outside its perimeters and instead must verify anything and everything trying to connect to its systems before granting access.”
Most importantly, it doesn’t matter what IP address or device someone is using to try and gain access. The key hurdle is authenticating that individual user first. For instance, this relies on technologies such as multifactor authentication, IAM, orchestration, analytics, encryption, scoring and file system permissions. Additionally, Zero Trust Security requires access policies that limit users to the least amount of access they need to accomplish their tasks.
In contrast, using only traditional firewalls to enforce perimeter security “is problematic because, when that perimeter is breached, an attacker has relatively easy access to a company’s privileged intranet.”
Google, a frontrunner in ZTNA, removed “the requirement for a privileged intranet” and moved its “corporate applications to the Internet.” Its BeyondCorp research discusses technical challenges it addressed along the way. But there is also an emphasis on user experience: “Our goal was to keep the end user experience as seamless as possible.”
Is Zero Trust Security Available to SMBs?
Short answer? Yes.
But we’ll admit that many of the companies in this space focus on meeting enterprise needs. For one thing, many enterprise solutions incorporate several of the technologies we just listed. That’s in addition to micro segmentation policies within the environment.
Yet legacy technology can complicate the efforts to migrate to Zero Trust. Fortunately, many elements of the Zero Trust Architecture are cloud-based. That can facilitate the journey to this more ambitious approach.
Let’s look at how IBM answers the What is Zero Trust Security question. For the tech behemoth, “Zero Trust relies on context.” In shore, protecting connections between users, data and resources relies on four tenets:
- Define context — Understand users, data and resources to create coordinated, security policies aligned with the business.
- Verify and enforce — Protect the organization and grant conditional access without friction. Quickly and consistently validate with context and enforce policies.
- Resolve incidents — Resolve security incidents with minimal impact to business by taking targeted actions.
- Analyze and improve — Continually improve security posture by adjusting policies and practices to make faster, more informed decisions.
Still, there aren’t a lot of vendors providing Zero Trust identity access control to the small business. Fortunately, the Gatekeeper feature of our AccessEnforcer 5.0 plays the necessary role for smaller companies.
Zero Trust for the Small Business
Gatekeeper secures remote access by SSH or Microsoft RDP with two factor authenticated access control (2FA) for every network session before remote users can access systems. This verifies and enforces seamless access but lets organizations avoid exposing RDP or SSH ports or systems to the public Internet or unauthorized users.
How does it work? To begin, our authorized user accesses their Gatekeeper End User URL and logs in using their Active Directory credentials. Then, they use their 2FA app to get a verification code to Gatekeeper. Next, hosts they can connect with are presented. After they connect, Gatekeeper sends an RDP file to their browser, which spawns their RDP client to connect them to the desired host. Similarly, Gatekeeper can present a SSH link instead.
Above all, Zero Trust doesn’t stop at the access management stage. No matter the size of your business, you’ll want visibility to what’s going on in your network. Gatekeeper helps you empower security response and provides the data needed to analyze user behaviors and detect and mitigate threats.
Not a set and forget approach to cybersecurity, Zero Trust demands continuous improvement. Bolster your cyber defenses without building more friction into the user access experience. Take your protection and detections to the next level with Gatekeeper’s Zero Trust Security purpose-built for small business networks.
View this 60-second video to see Gatekeeper in action!