A modern business is a digitally transformed business. Employees of today are on the internet more than ever before, accessing data and applications from multiple sources. And instead of residing within the corporate perimeter, sensitive business is distributed in Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) applications such as Microsoft 365 as well as private applications in Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud Platform and Azure.
The drive for digital transformation
The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the progress of both public and private sector organisations pursuing digital transformation. Increasingly mobile users want to be able to do their jobs at any time, from any location, from any device, using any application. They also want to have an easy means to share information with their co-workers, suppliers and other stakeholders.
A poll of 5,250 managers and employees in France, Germany, the US, the UK and China revealed that nearly four of five companies are undergoing digital transformation. The reasons cited by 76% of polled managers include improving decision-making, employee efficiency, product development and work organisation. Another driver for digital transformation is changing customer expectations, with many consumers now expecting some form of online engagement or experience, even in the public sector.
The safe way to transform
While the process of digital transformation is highly beneficial (and indeed necessary) for organisations of today, it also expands the attack surface and increases exposure to new cyber threats.
Traditionally, security architectures focused on protecting the network. However, in a digitally connected world, this approach is no longer effective. A zero trust security architecture delivered through the cloud is essential for every organisation making use of cloud technology.
Adopting a zero trust model
Without stringent security, expanding the use of innovative applications and services increases cyber vulnerabilities. And eager cybercriminals are waiting in the wings to capitalise!
Zero trust means exactly that: assuming that the network is inherently compromised. Even once a user authenticates, the zero trust architecture continues to monitor activity and authenticate at each level of activity. Zero trust makes it harder for attackers to succeed by continuously monitoring and examining behaviours.
The benefits of zero trust security
When properly implemented, a zero trust architecture helps to reduce complexity, operational burdens and costs.
- Lowers breach potential: Organisations today need to ensure that they meet increasing demands for data privacy and security.
- Reduces risk: A zero trust model eliminates potential threats by uncovering what’s happening on the network and continuously checking the credentials of every connected asset.
- Reduces management costs: By centralising the location of security tools and management, a zero trust model reduces expenditure.
- Ensures greater agility: With a zero trust model in place, organisations have the flexibility to transition from on-premise to remote locations with lower risk.
- Enables better control over the cloud: Many organisations are concerned about a loss of access control and visibility when moving to the cloud. A zero trust model puts control back in the hands of the organisation.
Supporting the digital transformation journey
When implementing a zero trust architecture, digital transformation architects need to take a programmatic approach combining processes and technology.
Tips for zero trust implementation:
- Align access and identity safeguards with your organisation’s risk policies
- Monitor customer and user interaction with accounts, data, and services continually
- Strategise to adapt to a new way of doing business
- Leverage security technologies such as Identity and Access Management IAM, multi-factor authentication, analytics, encryption, orchestration, scoring and file system permissions
With on-demand, multi-cloud flexibility, deploying zero trust model not only solves security challenges, but ensures enhanced user experiences and a streamlined, secure adoption of digital transformation processes. Working with an experienced technology partner helps public and private sector organisations to make the transition as smooth as possible so that they can start realising the benefits straight away.
Matthew Margetts is Director of Sales and Marketing at Smarter Technologies. His background includes working for blue-chip companies such as AppNexus, AOL/ Verizon, and Microsoft in the UK, Far East and Australia.