Zero Trust for Small Businesses

End to end security or zero trust is the newest trend for small business

Why You Need to Know About Zero Trust

Have you heard about Zero Trust? Do you know why it’s important for your small business? If not, join the crowd. After all, business owners have enough to do without trying to keep up with every twitch in the cybersecurity game. But Zero Trust is important for the security of your business and your clients.

With the increase in cyberattacks during the last three years, President Biden is allocating funds and implementing Zero Trust to strengthen cybersecurity. And the CISA (Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency) has published new guidance for all organizations, including businesses of any size. Moreover, the federal government and many states now require reporting of all security breaches. If you don’t comply, the consequences could be harsh in case a breach occurs. Cybersecurity is now a big deal.

What is Zero Trust?

“Zero Trust” boils down to a principle for creating a robust security program to meet today’s changing conditions: “Never trust, always verify.” In other words, Zero Trust is a concept, not a product, that should shape your cybersecurity profile.

A few short years ago, you might have installed a castle-and-moat security system. You focused on your physical location’s safety. Your “perimeter” or castle wall was the building(s) where you and your employees worked. All you had to worry about was keeping the bad people from crossing the drawbridge over your moat—that is, from infiltrating your internal network. Once someone was “inside,” they could access nearly anything.

Things aren’t so simple now. Your perimeter or castle wall can no longer withstand attacks as effectively as before. With 30% of small business employees now working remotely at least part of the time, the number of possible bridges across the moat has exploded. In truth, since many of your employees and clients can now work anytime from anywhere, there is no meaningful perimeter. The walls have come down.

As a concept, Zero Trust means that the location of a point of access is no longer so important. What now matters is the identity of the person who seeks access. And their identity must be verified every time and for everything to which they seek access.

A security profile that amounts to Zero Trust, follows these three principles:

  1. Restrict access to data and information only to persons who need and are authorized to have it. And limit such privileges to as few persons as possible.
  2. Always require each user’s authentication (usually by a strong password plus Multi-Factor-Authentication or MFA) to allow access to any asset, data, software tool, etc. And reverify continuously (usually by automation).
  3. Monitor behavior continually: know who typically accesses what and when. Identify typical patterns of usage and access so that you can detect unusual events.

The tools—software, platforms, integration—that fulfill these three principles can be daunting to select and install. Large enterprises might have the IT resources to cope. Small businesses probably do not.

How to Get Started toward Zero Trust

Even with limited resources, you can start on a path to Zero Trust.

  1. Install identity management software to control access and authentication of users. As part of this step, require MFA. Make sure that cloud software and storage vendors enforce your Zero Trust policies.
  2. Determine who is allowed access to what and install applications to enforce your policies.
  3. Use a software tool to analyze and monitor user behavior to establish typical patterns. If an unusual event occurs, an automated response can be triggered to request additional authentication or deny access as appropriate.

The necessary tools to move toward Zero Trust must work together. When they do, employees and other users might experience greater efficiency and convenience. Enhanced security does not have to be cumbersome.

Things to Remember

Small business clients increasingly worry about the safety and confidentiality of their information. They are more likely to do business with organizations that follow up-to-date security policies. Since only 23% of small to medium businesses have fully implemented Zero Trust, doing so can give you a competitive advantage.

Strong security can improve your bottom line and protect your assets. Security remains, therefore, an integral part of your business.

Of course, small businesses often lack IT resources to keep up with technical security issues. IT personnel can be strained. That’s where we come in.

At Now IT Works, we specialize in helping small businesses and organizations in Connecticut improve their security posture. We can help you select the tools that you need and implement them so that they work together. We will tailor your security profile to match the needs of your employees and clients for your particular business. Contact us today to get started.