By Irina Ghose, Executive Director – Cloud Solutions, Microsoft India
Digital transformation across organizations has progressed at warp speed in the past year, whether it has been for enabling employees to work remotely or reimagining business operations in the evolving new normal. At the heart of this is digital security with relentless efforts to keep environments not just secure but also make them resilient and future-proof. Securing users, data and devices in context of work from anywhere has become absolutely critical.
The number of personal devices accessing corporate networks is spiking and subsequently, the corporate network perimeter has been redefined. Identity-based attacks have significantly increased using tactics like password spraying, phishing, and breach replays and it is the need of the hour for organizations to implement real-time, AI-based protections that prevent identity compromise. At the same time, security professionals are looking for effective ways to better manage alerts and proactively prevent attackers.
A Zero Trust security model where identities form the foundation of modern cybersecurity strategy is becoming inevitable. Slowly but surely, trust in Zero Trust is growing. When the pandemic hit last year, organizations that were already on their Zero Trust journey found it easier to transition to remote work and came out stronger in their ability to deflect sophisticated cyber-attacks.
So what exactly is the Zero Trust security model?
Zero Trust teaches us to “Never trust, Always verify.” The Zero Trust model assumes breach and verifies each request as though it originates from an open network, instead of assuming that everything behind the corporate firewall is safe. Every access request is fully authenticated, authorized, and encrypted before granting access.
Zero Trust is based on three simple principles:
• Verify explicitly: Authenticate and authorize based on all available data points, including user identity, location, device health, service or workload, data classification, and anomalies.
• Use least privileged access: Limit user access with just-in-time and just-enough-access, risk-based adaptive polices, and data protection to help secure both data and productivity.
• Assume breach: Minimize blast radius for breaches and prevent lateral movement by segmenting access by network, user, devices, and app awareness. Verify all sessions are encrypted end to end. Use analytics to get visibility, drive threat detection, and improve defenses.
Having a strong identity is the critical first step to the success of a Zero Trust security approach. Identities—whether they represent people, services, or IoT devices—define the control plane in which access decisions are made.
The Zero Trust mindset is the foundation for organizational resilience, the cornerstone of effective protection, and the future of security. Security, compliance, identity, and management are not standalone elements in an organization’s digital armor but are interdependent. For instance, a highly successful Zero Trust Security Model runs on the foundation of Extended Detection & Response (XDR) defined as an integrated suite of security products spanning hybrid IT architectures, designed to interoperate and coordinate enterprise-wide threat prevention, detection, and response. XDR unifies control points, security telemetry, analytics, and operations into one enterprise system and accelerates the adoption of Zero Trust security model. Using a multi-vendor approach with zero trust security creates complexity, which can lead to data silos and delayed detection times. Such a siloed approach can be an opportunity for the adversary to slip in through the cracks.
Microsoft has an end-to-end approach to security, starting from Identity & Access Management, through Endpoint, Email, and Application security, to Data loss prevention and into Multi-Cloud security and Security information and event management (SIEM). When this integrated outlook combines forces with the amazing ingenuities of artificial intelligence, it’s nothing less than a superpower for organizations.
Many organizations today are realizing the urgent need of integrated and contextual security to reshape their security posture for tomorrow. Technology consulting and services company Mindtree embraced integrated security with Microsoft for its global workforce. This has helped accelerate Mindtree’s vision of enhanced employee productivity, mobility and security. Through a simplified, familiar, and productive user experience, Mindtree security team is able to deliver intelligent, automated, and integrated security across their enterprise.
All organizations today, irrespective of scale, vertical or complexity, need a security model that protects people, devices, apps, and data wherever they are, empowers a remote or hybrid workforce and continually adapts to evolving business needs. And organizations will have to design their modern security strategies to deliver simplicity in the face of complexity.
The fundamental aim of all security efforts is to make the world a safer place for all. In the end, security is about people – the need to protect people, the desire to bring people together, and the collective efforts to strengthen our defense.
The Author is Executive Director – Cloud Solutions, Microsoft India