Companies have shifted from on-premise to the cloud, making security harder to detect and protect employees. It was easier to protect employees when they were working in-house and within protective firewalls. With many companies utilizing work from home, it has become a challenge to protect employees on their networks. Due to these changes, companies are putting in place zero-trust security to optimize protection further.  

What is Zero-trust Security?

Remote workers need access to systems, services, application programming interfaces, data, and processes. All they need is an internet-connected device to access the company files from anywhere at any time. Companies need to allow certain people to access their networks; this includes contractors, customers, partners, consultants, and even MSPs. These are not employees, but they need some level of access all the time. Giving access to authorized users who are not employees creates a larger platform for attackers. Zero-trust network access (ZTNA) helps address these concerns. 

Zero-trust security is simple; it means no company should automatically trust and grant access to anything inside or outside its organization. Even if you know a user, you still need to do your due diligence and have measures in place to constantly and consistently vet them. Attacks can come from anywhere, and trust shouldn’t just be implied. Before granting access, someone internally must first verify and authorize anything and everything connecting to its system. It does not matter what IP address or device an individual is trying to gain access to; the challenge is authenticating each user. 

No longer providing an individual with a username and password is sufficient enough to grant network access. Those types of credentials are too easy to steal. Now an individual or device must additionally provide strong multifactor authentication to gain access to your network. Regardless of company size, zero-trust security offers many benefits. 

Benefits of ZTNA for SMBs

Small businesses no longer need to shy away from network security protections due to their restricted budgets. By investing in the right zero-trust system, companies can prevent future data breaches and focus on their business growth. Many small-to-medium-sized businesses (SMBs) partner with managed service providers to incorporate a well-run zero-trust security system. A ZTNA can be implemented in various ways depending on the SMBs use cases, business flow, and risk profile. 

The first benefit that comes to mind about implementing a zero-trust plan is strengthening SMBs network security by protecting and defending the company. However, zero-trust plans implement several other benefits, such as:

  • Highly increasing network performance due to minimizing traffic on subnets
  • Abbreviated breach detection times
  • Enhancing the ability to address network errors
  • Simplified logging and monitoring process

Here are several smart tips to include on a zero-trust strategy for an SMB that will help reduce time-consuming, costly breaches that could potentially steal your highly classified data and even market momentum:

  • Create multi-factor authentication (MFA) for every contractor, admin user, and accountability partner. MFA can reduce the risk of credential abuse from privileged access.
  • Utilize a shared account and password vault for all privileged user access to reduce the risk of being breached. Vaults help protect intellectual property, patents, source codes, and proprietary data by ensuring only trusted users are allowed to gain access. This is done by first identifying, then validating system accounts before passwords are received. 
  • Ensure all employees and contractors have Secure Remote Access by gaining the least privileged access to the most critical resources they need to use. Secure Remote Access is defined as never trust, always verify, and enforce the least privilege.
  • Track all privileged entries and metadata auditing by implementing a real-time monitoring system. This will help with meeting compliance requirements and identifying how a security breach first gets started. The real-time monitoring system is helpful to prove that privileged access is controlled and audited to meet regulatory compliance requirements of PCI, MAS, SOX, FISMA, HIPAA, NIST, and more. 
  • All network devices must install privilege access credentials to the zero-trust system. This system will help update and change passwords based on time length, further reducing the risk of hacker attacks against weak credentials. It is a good idea to have security admins include these credentials in the shared accounts vaults. 

Benefits of ZTNA Implementation from MSPS

It is beneficial for MSPs to incorporate a zero-trust approach in their network security to ensure that customer data and employees securely gain network access.  MSPs need to establish a simple solution that is dynamic and flexible that provides a high standard of compliance and protection. MSPs are supposed to be used as a resource for SMBs. They have the tools and expertise to implement a zero-trust network. 

MSPs will influence decision-makers by guiding them through the processes of implementing a network security transformation across an SMBs entire organization. It is up to the managed service provider to take full responsibility for the design to the final implementation process. 

These processes should be specifically tailored to each organization, depending on their size. They should help organizations by:

  • Performing a top-to-bottom assessment of the organization data, assets, and services that is a potential target for attacks
  • Having a more strategic conversation regarding security by understanding what is most valuable to the business
  • Carrying out best practices to their security with the zero-trust principles by aligning controls, measures, and activities
  • Continuously monitor and measure the zero-trust strength level 

Most businesses, especially small-to-medium-sized, have limited resources to implement a robust zero-trust security strategy. Their team simply does not have the right people or expert cybersecurity skills to help. Many businesses are now aware of how important network security is and how it influences business outcomes. 

Without expert help, businesses struggle to implement zero-trust security on their own. By partnering with an expert MSP team such as K2 Partnering Solutions, they will implement the zero-trust security system for you without the headaches of figuring out how to do it on your own. An MSP will cater to every business differently by customizing each zero-trust system, depending on the company’s needs. MSPs will bring the most highly skilled security experts to the table to handle even the most complex challenges. 

Key Takeaways

A Zero-trust system can benefit any size business by being part of the overall cybersecurity planning, identity verification, access control, authentication, and so much more. The main idea surrounding the zero-trust approach is never trust, always verify. This approach assumes that all devices and users represent a potential threat and can not be trusted until granted access through a rigorous authentication process. Once the authentication process is completed, privileged users are allowed bare minimum access to perform their job effectively. Zero-trust is put into place to ensure that the plan provides that damages are limited if a user’s account is compromised. Zero-trust can benefit both SMBs and Managed Service Providers. 

Contact us to learn more. 

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