Strengthening Cybersecurity: Embracing the Zero Trust security model – Stack Technology

There is no doubt that cyber security is an essential concern for all businesses. Cyber-attacks are increasingly common, costing companies time, money, and reputational damage.

All companies, regardless of size, are targets. Small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are often as vulnerable as larger enterprises, if not more so, due to weaker security measures. Common attacks include socially engineered attacks, phishing emails, CEO fraud emails, identity theft, malware, and unpatched software.

Change in Technology Consumption The way people access IT has transformed with the rise of cloud computing, which allows access to apps and data from anywhere on any device. While this offers many benefits, it also introduces new security concerns.

The Old Model vs. the New Model Traditional IT security followed a “perimeter security model” (or “castle and moat”), protecting IT systems with a defensive boundary. However, this model is now ineffective as networks, apps, and users are no longer confined within a single perimeter. The emergence of “shadow IT,” where employees use external storage solutions like Dropbox without the IT department’s knowledge, complicates the situation.

The new approach, zero trust networking, assumes that attackers will inevitably breach defenses. Instead of building walls, the focus shifts to ensuring that once inside, intruders can do no harm. The principle is “never trust, always verify,” checking:

  1. User – Who is accessing?
  2. Location – Where are they accessing from?
  3. Device – What device are they using?
  4. Apps – What are they trying to access?

This ensures that access is granted only to verified, trusted users using trusted devices from trusted locations. Balancing tight security with user experience is crucial, as access issues can cause frustration, but lax security poses significant risks.

Implementing Zero Trust Networking Start with an IT security assessment to understand your current situation and create a risk and remediation plan. Additional security tools might be necessary; we recommend Microsoft 365, which integrates Office 365, Windows 10, and Enterprise Mobility + Security. This suite provides:

  • Identity-driven security: Multi-factor authentication, single sign-on, and conditional access policies.
  • Threat protection: Advanced threat detection and analytics.
  • Information protection: Data protection through classifications, rules, and policies.
  • Security management: Holistic security management dashboards.

Microsoft 365 allows for secure, simple data access while running threat detection software to quickly stop any breaches through automated remediation.

Ongoing Security Management Continuous management of your security is essential. This can be done in-house if you have the resources and expertise or through a cyber security partner for ongoing support.

Cybersecurity Maturity Roadmap Organizations vary in their cybersecurity standards, ranging from basic to robust. Once the necessary tools, processes, and support are in place, certification is recommended. This not only confirms effective security measures but also demonstrates your commitment to cybersecurity to clients, suppliers, and partners.

We suggest a three-tier certification approach:

  1. Cyber Essentials: Covers basic protections against common attacks. Quick to achieve via self-assessment.
  2. Cyber Essentials Plus: Builds on the basic certification with an external audit to ensure the effectiveness of core security measures. This takes longer due to the audit.
  3. ISO27001: Indicates sophisticated and robust IT security measures with a thorough external audit. This is time-consuming and requires a significant commitment.

Cyber security is a top concern for businesses. Adopting zero trust networking and using tools like Microsoft 365 can enhance your security efforts. For security consultancy, support, or a demo of Microsoft 365, please contact us.