Few would argue that IT security is an easy field. There are several challenges to overcome, ranging from a disturbingly high rate of burnout to long working hours, but one of the most difficult factors of the industry is keeping up with the startling rate of change that security teams must stay up with. Security is one of the most complex aspects of any company, and its parameters can shift at any time, making it a complex task to manage.
Over the last few years, the gradual rise of cloud services has been putting increasingly larger holes into the traditional network perimeter. The number of potential entry points into the business for attack techniques like phishing has rapidly expanded as line-of-business teams started using more SaaS applications.
The perimeter is no longer the key area of concern now that COVID-19 has forced widespread adoption of remote working. Instead, security teams have been forced to quickly adapt to a completely remote environment.
This poses a significant challenge in terms of identity and access management – accounts must be protected with multi-factor authentication to prevent hijacking, necessary monitoring must be used to ensure that any account compromise is detected quickly, and role-based access permissions must be used to neutralize any potential insider threats. These safeguards must be implemented to cloud accounts, data centre assets, and endpoint devices, and keeping track of so many systems and resources can be challenging.
Controlling systems of employees or relying on a network perimeter becomes less viable as organizations adopt remote work. Furthermore, as the tech skills crisis worsens, businesses are being forced to function without adequate security expertise on their teams.
However, there is no going back. The complexity of software, hardware, and employees will continue to rise, making computing environments increasingly vulnerable.
How can companies deal with the security issues that have arisen as a result of this? Unfortunately, most are unable to safeguard each and every technology layer. Here are some of the most prevalent coping strategies:
Depending on the perimeter – Using solutions like VPNs, this popular technique for lowering operational overhead is centered on guarding only the network boundary. The disadvantage is that once a perimeter has been breached, attackers can move laterally, extending the blast radius of the breach.
Using shared credentials – Because secure access is based on shared aliases and employs secure vaults to store shared credentials, this allows enterprises to extend their engineering teams without incurring too much overhead. These credentials, however, must be managed because they can be stolen or accessed by former employees.
Implementing manual processes – When everything else fails, manual procedures can be used as a last resort to deal with complexity. Not unexpectedly, this can have a detrimental impact on engineering productivity and lead to employee turnover, as well as result in the creation of personal backdoors into company infrastructure.
For auditing reasons, none of these solutions provide appropriate levels of information. Based on the rising number of reported cyber incidents, it’s evident that these strategies are failing to reduce the operational overhead of the infrastructure.
Zero trust has become the industry’s solution for these issues. Zero trust is an architectural pattern rather than an actual solution. It asserts that every computing resource, whether internal or external, must distrust all users equally. Zero trust considers perimeter-based, network-centric security measures obsolete, and mandates that every server is configured as if it were accessible to the Internet.
Identity-based access is becoming more common in organizations built on cloud-native platforms. Every employee must authenticate into a computing resource as themselves in this scenario. When paired with the zero-trust principle, a compromised account’s blast radius is reduced to a single user and resource.