Zero Trust & Compliance in SMBs

Organizations face an ever-growing list of data privacy and security regulations, including GDPR, PCI-DSS, HIPAA, CCPA, and more. Unfortunately, non-compliance with these regulations can result in significant financial penalties, and traditional cybersecurity models fall short of addressing the complexities of the hybrid work environment. To achieve and maintain compliance effectively, businesses should adopt the Zero Trust Security Model – which offers a more suitable approach to safeguarding sensitive data.

Discover how to implement Zero Trust in your SMB and maintain compliance.

Table of Contents

Defending the Network Perimeter Is No Longer Enough

For a long time, organizations concentrated their defenses at the network perimeter. This castle-and-moat cybersecurity model is easy to understand. It provides adequate protection when all devices, data, and applications are in one place, such as an office building.

The traditional network perimeter disintegrated after the pandemic outbreak and the subsequent shift to remote work. Small organizations that used to occupy one office allowed employees to work remotely at least some days a week, often using personal and work devices.

Organizations shifted their workloads to the cloud to make remote working easily possible. Because of this, the public cloud service market may reach $600 billion worldwide in 2023. This shift brings the evolution of sensitive data spread across multiple locations, accessed by various endpoints.

Organizations now access information from the office, employees’ homes, coffee shops, airports, and other public places, changing how we operate forever.

Never Trust. Always Verify.

How can organizations effectively separate legitimate devices and users from malicious ones? They can’t, so they should never assume trust by default. Instead, they should verify endpoints to ensure that they haven’t been compromised by a malicious attacker. That’s where the Zero Trust security model comes in.

“Instead of assuming everything behind the corporate firewall is safe, the Zero Trust model assumes breach and verifies each request as though it originates from an open network,” explains Microsoft. “Regardless of where the request originates or what resource it accesses, Zero Trust teaches us never to trust, always verify.”

3 Principles of the Zero Trust Model

1. Verify Explicitly

As previously mentioned, the Zero Trust approach never gives default trust. Instead, all authentication requests should be explicitly verified based on a combination of at least two factors.

2. Use Least Privileged Access

The Zero Trust security model limits user access to minimize lateral movement across the network. This makes it far less likely that an attacker would be able to hop from device to device, planting backdoors and stealing sensitive data in the process. 

3. Assume Breach

The sooner you detect a breach, the more you can reduce its impact. Since breaches remain unseen until too late, you should use monitoring and analytics to get visibility and drive threat detection.

The three principles behind the Zero Trust security model represent a significant shift in how organizations defend themselves. Still, their real-world effectiveness depends on their implementation.

Implementing the Zero Trust Security Model

The Zero Trust Adoption Report 2021 published by Microsoft revealed that 96 percent of security decision-makers see the Zero Trust security model as critical to their organization’s success, and 76 percent are already in the implementation process.

5 Stages of Zero Trust Security

1. Protect Surface Identification

Zero Trust defines a “protect surface” as a place where valuable data, assets, applications, and services reside. Most organizations have multiple protect surfaces, and their accurate identification is an essential prerequisite for their protection.

2. Transaction Flow Mapping

Protect surfaces are not static. Users regularly access and modify them, making it essential to know the users, their devices and applications, and their connection.

3. Architecture Building

Once you understand your network, you can start building the actual Zero Trust architecture, putting in place controls to create a micro perimeter around each protect surface.

4. Policy Creation

When all fences and gates are up, you decide who will pass through them and under which circumstances. The goal is to prevent unauthorized access and exfiltration of sensitive data by attackers outside and inside your organization.

5. Monitoring and Maintenance

Your Zero Trust architecture must evolve to reflect your organization’s changing needs. Ongoing monitoring helps guarantee the protection of sensitive data and immediate detection of data breaches.

Get the Compliance Services You Need Today

Implementing a completely new cybersecurity model is no easy task, but it’s a task that’s well worth undertaking. Fortunately, you don’t have to complete it alone. You can partner with an experienced managed security services provider, like Teal, and borrow its expertise and experience to ensure smooth implementation. 

Teal offers responsive and secure services to SMBs nationally, with local headquarters based in: 

If you’re interested in learning about our premier IT consulting, contact a Teal business technology advisor today.

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