Two padlocks on top of a laptop.

Navigating Zero Trust: Device-Centered Security Measures To Protect Your Data

Unfortunately, in 2023, traditional security approaches won’t cut it anymore, with cybercriminals continuously developing new ways to infiltrate networks from outside and within. Given that, according to a recent Verizon report, 49% of cyber attacks involved stolen credentials, simply designing a solid password isn’t enough to keep your business’s data safe.

Just in the last few weeks, the New York Times reported that the US government is searching for hidden malware that’s compromised specific networks controlling military-associated power grids, communications systems, and water supplies.

Not only large institutions but businesses of all sizes are affected by cybercrime. To counter this threat, companies need a comprehensive Zero Trust cybersecurity approach that includes both user authentication and device verification.

In this article, we cover the vital role that your business’s technology plays in the Zero Trust model.

Want to keep operating confidently, no matter your potential risks? 

Read on to gain the best practices for implementing a device-centric Zero Trust framework.


Potential Risks and Consequences of Not Properly Verifying Devices

Unless you put a proper system in place to verify equipment, your business can expect to experience unauthorized access that:

  • Compromises your mission-critical and/or sensitive information,
  • Jeopardizes your organization’s reputation with your client or prevents you from complying with industry data regulations, hurting you financially,
  • Puts your entire infrastructure at risk due to nefariously-installed malware and leads to disrupted service for your customers and negatively impacted productivity for your employees,
  • Results in data loss, particularly the loss of proprietary information or data being transferred to untrusted third parties without consent.


A Refresher On The Basics of Zero Trust

A Zero-trust approach to cybersecurity means that every time an identity (whether a human user, device, or application) attempts to access a business’s network, its system automatically treats it as mistrustful, no matter where it connects from.

The philosophy revolves around three fundamental principles:

  1. Verify explicitly: Always confirm and approve access based on available information like who the user is, their system’s health, where they’re trying to access from, what service or task they need, and how sensitive the data is.
  2. Least privileged access: Put in place safety measures that restrict users’ access so that they only obtain the data necessary for their work and only for the precise duration required for their tasks.
  3.  Assume breach: Implement protocols assuming that a breach is inevitable and has already happened, strategically segmenting access to minimize the impact zone in case of an attack, allowing you to mitigate any potential damage swiftly.

When taking action on these principles, it’s critical to build your strategy around six key pillars:  identity, infrastructure, networks, data, applications, and, most relevantly for this article, your devices.


How Devices Work Within The Zero Trust Model

Let’s compare the Zero Trust framework to watching the latest movie at your local cinema. Just like you need to have your ticket checked before you enter the theatre to enjoy the film, a piece of equipment needs to be authenticated before it accesses a network.

Once inside the theatre, you can only sit at your selected seat – you don’t get access to the entire space, just like a piece of hardware can only access the resources the system permits.

Most importantly, once the movie is over, you leave the theatre. If you want to see another film, you need to buy another ticket and get it rechecked.

With Zero Trust, your network will verify a piece of technology whenever it tries to access the network. No unauthorized double features or theatre hopping here!


Diving Deeper Into The Role of Devices in the Zero Trust Framework

With a traditional security approach, businesses design their systems to recognize hardware within their own network as safe. But with the “everyone is suspect” mindset of Zero Trust, this isn’t enough. Not only can cybercriminals mislead your network and infiltrate from the inside, but many employees will also use personal gadgets to accomplish work tasks.

As a result, your business needs a robust strategy for device management as part of its Zero Trust framework if you want to successfully protect your data.

Your security approach can’t just be checking a piece of equipment once or installing protective software and calling it a day. It needs to be an ongoing effort that constantly considers any endpoint that connects to your network, whether that be a computer, smartphone, or even an IoT device, much like a smart thermostat.

Here are some ways technology can factor into your Zero Trust approaches. You can:

  • Use hardware to gain the vital information with added context that a system needs to authenticate identity and manage access control.
  • Allow your system to make better authentication decisions using analytics that clearly show device health.
  • Leverage technology as a crucial location for identifying breaches. Regular monitoring will help you spot abnormal behaviour or patterns so you can quickly identify and fix potential breaches.
  • Use characteristics of the equipment to proactively determine which actions any item can perform or which resources it can retrieve while accessing your network.
  • Contain a threat from spreading since you isolate potentially compromised machines from the network.
  • Simplify vulnerability management, helping you streamline the process of identifying and addressing potential weaknesses in your system. This gives you a more targeted method to detect and mitigate risks.
  • Employ a gadget’s features as part of the authentication process itself.


Best Practices For Implementing A Device-Centred Zero Trust Strategy

To ensure your device-focused zero-trust plan works well, here are some best practices you should follow:

  1. Take an inventory of the tools used within your organization and establish a registration protocol to ensure all such tools accessing your resources are under your control
  2. Ensure that your IT provider securely configures every hardware your employees use for work, particularly if those items connect to a network and/or access your business applications. 
  3. Establish and activate hardware-based security features on all gadgets. According to Microsoft, did you know your organization can reduce account security risks by 99.9% when combining biometrics with possession authentication?
  4. Install antivirus and anti-malware software to help shield your equipment from damage due to bad actors.
  5. Implement a strategy for remotely managing devices when users access your data outside your office-based network by using a cloud-based security solution to track the equipment anywhere.
  6. Design a system that provides conditional access based on the current context.
  7. Regularly update and patch tools to cut down on security flaws.
  8. Engage in continuous monitoring and real-time behavior analysis to take immediate action if necessary.
  9. Educate your employees on security strategies.


We Can Elevate Your Business With Next-Level Security

With proper support, building a strong security system that protects your digital assets while creating a cohesive work environment that nurtures productivity and creativity is possible. 

When you engage PC Corp for our Managed I.T. services, we will implement robust and evidence-based solutions for securing your devices and data. Our expert team will help you embrace a dynamic cybersecurity strategy that responds to evolving threats using a multi-layered security approach.

Contact us today to kickstart your journey toward a future with enhanced data security.

Feeling curious and hoping to learn more about Zero Trust security? 

Watch our recent webinar to dive deeper into the topic.

Small Business