a cybersecurity model for the new age of work

Mario ManfredoniItaly national director of Juniper Networksexplain why he zero trust it must be the pillar of cybersecurity for organizations

During the pandemic, many businesses and their staff have had to work hard to stay operational. Often, security took a back seat, but once companies allowed their staff to work from home or remotely, security issues reappeared. The network has expanded to also include remote and home offices. This expansion has multiplied the number of period which have therefore become an attractive target for cybercriminals. Previously, possible entry points for hackers were limited to data center and users, many of whom worked in a tightly controlled environment. That changed when working from home became the norm. Companies had to rethink their security strategy and take new vulnerabilities into account. Meanwhile, cyberattacks have grown in sophistication and prevalence.

This shows that companies need to rethink their security strategy, especially since the new working normal will be a hybrid model where working from home will still be present for some time. Due to these changes, security must be planned as an integral part of the enterprise network (security by design). On the other hand, visibility and protection gaps will continue to widen as the attack surface evolves, prompting organizations to use multiple disconnected tools to try to see everything and protect everything.

Zero Trust: a new paradigm

The Zero Trust concept is based on the principle that each user, device, sensor or application must identify themselves and prove themselves harmless before being granted access to the network or to the required digital assets. Zero Trust does not distinguish between services, users and devices, it controls all traffic. The objective of this model is to limit internal and external risks to the network and applications as much as possible.

The guiding principle is “never trust, always verify”: in other words, each part of the network can be potentially hostile, as if it were directly on the Internet and access requests must be treated accordingly. The Zero Trust approach views intrinsic trust as a critical vulnerability.

Assuming that everything inside the network is by definition trustworthy, it provides the opportunity for external or internal actors to misuse credentials and move around easily by accessing and subtracting data from their targets. Conversely, by using control systems that create micro-perimeters around critical data, applications, and services, enterprises will have confidence that only known and authorized traffic and applications will have access to these critical and sensitive assets. With a Zero Trust architecture, organizations determine on a case-by-case basis who can cross a micro-perimeter and bring controls closer to the object to be protected, preventing unauthorized access and theft of sensitive data. This approach, combined with automatic threat detection and associated alerts, can reduce the risk of a breach by preventing lateral movement and unauthorized access, speed identification and response to threats, reduce visibility gaps, and promote conformity. .

Zero Trust is also aligned with the dynamic nature of modern communication; in fact, it allows credentials and policies to be updated in real time so that data access rights can be changed in an instant.

The number of anomalies is increasing at an exponential rate, creating problems for security teams. Implementing automation throughout security measures reduces their stress and improves their efficiency, as they can only focus on the most serious alarms.

Zero Trust therefore solves some of the problems that make CISOs nightmare, including application and data protection, compliance, and threat identification. This is not a model suitable only for large enterprises; Zero Trust is adequate and affordable for businesses of all sizes, from small start to large companies.

It's a journey, not a project. While for businesses with seemingly limitless resources it can also be helpful to start from scratch with a Zero Trust architecture, for most businesses a pragmatic, step-by-step approach makes more sense. An iterative approach means that the business does not have to invest huge resources immediately, but can spread the costs and effort over a longer period of time.

Implementing Zero Trust can reduce security costs as it improves operational efficiency and reduces complexity. Therefore, it also reduces the pressure on IT security teams. It also improves the security of new hybrid workstations by extending to almost the entire security perimeter.

Juniper Networks
Mario Manfredoni

Protect the network with artificial intelligence

As hybrid work environments continue to grow, artificial intelligence should be a key technology for any security strategy. AI can automatically and autonomously sift through millions of reports much faster and methodically than any human. Eliminates false positives and, in many cases, resolves alarms automatically, escalating only those that it does not identify or cannot resolve itself to the security team. This drastically reduces the number of threats that need to be actively managed, freeing people to focus on more strategic activities. Moreover, if it is the AI ​​that automatically checks all the alarms, the possibility of human error is reduced, because the artificial intelligence does not suffer from work overload. With real-time threat (and false alarm) analysis, businesses can also manage the need for faster response times. Finally, considering the exponential growth in the amount of data and the spread of increasingly sophisticated threats, security teams cannot give up on AI and automation.

Artificial intelligence, ultimately, is an ingredient of the Zero Trust model that not only increases network and business security, but also reduces pressure on IT and security teams. Zero Trust models that use artificial intelligence and automation take the hassle out of businesses and users, who can be confident that the solutions used are performing at peak performance and interact closely with security teams to achieve optimal security.

Conclusions: Zero Trust and AI Means Greater Security for User and Business Data

According to a report by the World Economic Forum, cyberattacks on critical infrastructure - energy, transport, health - represented the fifth economic risk in 2020. Given the prevalence of attacks, Zero Trust is the best security model to protect data, users and organizations, especially given the growth of hybrid business models and the resulting expansion of scopes.

It's not just companies that benefit from a Zero Trust model, but also their customers and partners. Customers appreciate a company's efforts to protect their data and are willing to trust it. Additionally, businesses can develop and offer better products and services, thereby improving customer experience, reducing churn, and increasing revenue and profit. Essentially, they have a better chance of remaining competitive in these complicated times.

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