Frictionless Zero Trust Security – How minimizing friction can lower risks and boost ROI

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By Narendran Vaideeswaran, Director Product Marketing, Identity & Zero Trust, CrowdStrike

The traditional working format has completely changed over the last 18 months for many organizations, with an increasing number switching to a ‘remote working’ model during the pandemic.

Organizations have had no choice but to adapt and build on their existing cybersecurity systems. However, managing on-premises and cloud-based systems can be challenging and can increase the enterprise’s attack surface.

This is where cybersecurity based on protecting workforce identities become the key.

This shift calls for changes in security strategies, as more complex ‘work from anywhere’ IT demands more resources and new vulnerabilities open up. And the need for robust protection is growing as hybrid working models become more commonplace and cybercriminals and their techniques become more sophisticated.

Today, 80% of cybersecurity breaches involve compromised credentials, so it’s essential for businesses to secure their workforce identities, to reduce hacking risks and ensure costs don’t creep up.

But, when trying to combat increasingly sophisticated threats, IT teams can be faced with static environments that have existed as they are for years on end.

As a result, security stacks are becoming more complex as modern tools and systems are added, making blind spots inevitable and diluting ROI of new security products.

It isn’t all bad news, however. To combat these issues, businesses are moving towards ‘zero friction’ Zero Trust security solutions, to enable seamless and secure access for all employees – no matter where they are and how they access the resources or applications.

The changing face of work, new threats and how security strategies can respond

Cyber threats continue to evolve, with attack methods beginning to outsmart traditional and rigid security systems like internal firewalls and VLAN/ACLs, leaving organizations and their data at risk.

Regardless of a business’s security priorities, addressing identity threats could be the most cost-effective way to protect the organization’s systems, data and network.

In some organizations, sending ‘authentication logs’ to the SIEM solution may be one way to ascertain weaknesses in identity store security systems, but this can increase the cost to the business. Often, the SIEM licenses are calculated on log volume (gigabytes per day), which can affect the licensing tier of an organization, thereby bumping up the yearly license costs – sending authentication logs consumes a lot of storage.

On top of this, finding gaps in security, such as around privileged accounts, stale accounts being used to log in, etc., can be incredibly time-consuming by analyzing logs – looking back in time and searching for the needle in the haystack!

Naturally, organizations tend to prioritize their productivity and workforce output levels, however this can sometimes come at the cost of sufficient identity security. By removing rigorous log management systems and processes, and reducing password reset frequency and subsequently, lesser support tickets and calls, will lead to improved business productivity and reduced costs and overhead.

Strict, risk-based identity verification underpins every Zero Trust security strategy, allowing only authenticated and authorized users and devices to access applications and data, regardless of whether the user or device is sitting within or outside of the network perimeter.

And this benefit needn’t come with the downsides of eye-watering costs or frustrating complexity.

In response, new security products are coming to market to address these flaws, using automation to deliver huge cost savings, lower solution deployment or SOC analyst time overhead; and optimizing the number of Full-Time Equivalent (FTE) employees in the buyer’s core use case.

Never trust, always verify

…is the fundamental basis of Zero Trust Security. Whether users are requesting access on or off-premises, the ideology remains the same.

Essentially, Zero Trust systems see protecting identities is crucial for safeguarding valuable business data and information. Vulnerable identities can make the perfect gateway to preying hackers, so methods like identity segmentation opt to secure these blind spots.

Identity segmentation helps organizations to gain understanding of the various types of accounts that exist within the identity store(s): human user, programmatic/service and privileged, while monitoring their behavior and activity.

Organizations want to reduce system complexities while still being able to keep identities secure, in the cloud and on-premises, and this is something that frictionless Zero Trust solutions can help them achieve.

It’s key to note that zero friction Zero Trust solutions are able to feed into, and operate alongside, pre-existing central management consoles. Legacy systems can often create a barrier for cybersecurity advancements, so the frictionless nature of these security models is attractive.

Reducing friction in Zero Trust Security

As stack complexity grows, new products are entering the cybersecurity market in order to secure frictionless access to the applications and resources for users.

Securing workforce identity has never been so simple, thanks to these steps. The process can be broken down into three simple stages:

Segmentationidentifying security gaps by assigning individual risk scores and auto-classifying every human and service account.

Automationusing data to discover patterns, intent, anomalies and proactively preventing incidents.

Verificationensuring consistent, frictionless user experience with risk-based conditional access policies and enforcement

The process allows businesses to free up resources by taking control of real-time authentication analysis and detecting threats. If organizations have to store these as logs for compliance reasons, only the necessary information of the curated and analyzed authentication events are stored, saving on data storage and management.

Enterprises are starting to see the true benefits of a frictionless approach. An important area that’s evolving and maturing rapidly. Zero Trust Security with less friction for the users, IT and security teams will help organizations manage the demands and complexities of securing their IT environments in tune with the changing dynamics of the working environment.