Securing Remote Workers: The Gateway to Zero-Trust Principles

The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the security challenges of remote working and the need for a ‘work on any device from anywhere’ approach. Many organizations had to quickly adapt to enable their home-based workforce to stay connected and productive without compromising IT security. The traditional approach of relying solely on a secure VPN was no longer enough, as it had limitations and potential points of failure. This situation emphasized the importance of adopting a zero-trust approach, where organizations never trust and always verify access. Zero trust principles protect an organization’s data by using a layered framework that includes infrastructure, networks, applications, endpoints, and identity management.

Identity and access management (IAM) plays a fundamental role in zero-trust. Single sign-on with multi-factor authentication is critical for ensuring secure access. The concept of least privilege access authorization ensures that users are only granted the system access required for their job. Regular access and privilege reviews help enforce this principle. Managed identity tools can implement risk-based or policy-based access, taking into account factors like the user’s location or network access point.

Securing all endpoints and applications throughout the organization is also crucial in a zero-trust approach. This includes user devices, IoT devices, and devices attached to the corporate network. Collaboration software became essential during the pandemic, but organizations needed to ensure its security and encryption to protect data. CISOs had to draft new usage terms for collaboration software to protect company data while maintaining operational capabilities.

Managing company-owned and personal devices is essential in a zero-trust approach. Devices must have up-to-date operating systems, applications, and secure configurations. Company-owned desktops and laptops require VPN clients for secure access, while mobile device management (MDM) is necessary for company tablets and smartphones. MDM helps register devices, keep the OS up to date, control app installations, and wipe devices if compromised.

The challenge of BYOD pushes the boundaries of device and access security. Enterprises may have BYOD policies in place, but investing in an endpoint management solution is crucial to manage all devices and ensure they adhere to security measures. Endpoint management solutions allow companies to control device access, enforce compliance rules, and tailor risk-based policies to permit or block access.

The pandemic has highlighted the importance of a zero-trust mindset in IT and cybersecurity. As technology evolves, organizations must continually face new challenges and adapt their security practices. Zero-trust policies and mindsets are essential for keeping an organization’s assets safe and secure from a wide range of risks. Adopting a zero-trust approach is not only good business practice but also essential for organizations in today’s complex and distributed hybrid landscapes.

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