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Strengthening Remote Worker Security: The Zero Trust Imperative

June 30, 2023

In the ever-changing landscape of cybersecurity, the zero trust model has emerged as a crucial concept in fortifying the security of remote workers. Zero trust takes a holistic approach, considering potential threats from both inside and outside the network perimeter, and champions the “never trust, always verify” principle. In this piece, we ask CTO of Everything Blockchain, Brandon Hart, how businesses can design, implement, and manage a zero-trust strategy specifically for their remote workforce.

Crafting A Zero-Trust Blueprint for Remote Employees

The first step in designing a zero-trust strategy is to recognize all users, devices, applications, and data within the organization. This strategy is built upon network segmentation, practicing least privilege access principles, and continuous monitoring and analysis of network traffic and user behavior.

Brandon Hart, CTO of Everything Blockchain, explains:

The design process for a zero-trust strategy starts with identifying all users, devices, applications, and data across the organization. Network segmentation, application of least privilege access principles, and continuous monitoring and evaluation of network traffic and user behavior are the bedrock of this strategy. 

On the topic of the more technical building blocks necessary, he continues:

Moreover, robust authentication methods are key. Multi-factor authentication (MFA), end-to-end encryption, and secure VPNs for remote connections form part of this critical security design.

Zero Trust and Remote Work: Best Practices

The zero-trust model calls for a fresh set of best practices. The foremost among these is the adoption of least privileged access, granting employees the minimal level of access needed to accomplish their tasks, thus minimizing the potential for internal threats.

Also cornerstone in a zero-trust model, is continuous verification. “Trusting a connection merely because it was trusted previously, is a mistake“, says Hart. This means, verification of the security posture of the user and the device should be regular and unyielding.

The security of all endpoint devices used by remote workers should be ensured, as they present potential entry points into the network. Here, employee training and awareness become essential as workers need to understand the principles of zero-trust and how to maintain it.

All that said, you can never assume that you’ve reached a state of complete watertightness when it comes to security. A comprehensive incident response plan should be prepared and kept ready in case of any potential breach.

Technological Necessities for A Zero-Trust Strategy in Remote Work

Implementing a zero-trust strategy requires specific technologies. MFA is one of the most critical for verifying user identities. Endpoint security solutions provide protection for all devices connected to the corporate network.

Secure Access Service Edge (SASE), a technology that amalgamates networking and security services into a single cloud-based service, is another essential component. Identity and Access Management (IAM) tools manage user identities and their access to resources, while Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) provides real-time analysis of security alerts. Finally, Zero-Trust Data Protection Applications (ZDPA) are software tools that use Zero-Trust architecture principles to protect data on users’ local devices within an organization before it is stored or transmitted.

Changes for a Successful Security Strategy

Transitioning to a zero-trust strategy requires a paradigm shift in security. It necessitates a move from traditional perimeter-based security strategies to a focus on securing individual identities and devices. This means treating every access attempt as originating from an untrusted network.

Implementation may also require increased use of cloud-based security solutions and a stronger focus on user training and awareness. A mechanism for continuous evaluation and improvement is necessary as the security landscape evolves and new threats emerge.

“Remember, zero trust is a strategy, not a product or service that can be purchased outright”, says Hart. It involves a mix of changes in technology, policies, and culture. For enterprises aiming to secure their remote workers, understanding and implementing zero trust is the way forward.

In summary

In the age of remote work, the need for robust security strategies is paramount. The zero trust model provides a comprehensive approach, ensuring that all access attempts are treated as potential threats, regardless of their origin. By implementing this model, organizations can achieve a significant improvement in their remote work security, safeguarding their networks, and data from potential breaches.