5 Compelling Reasons to Adopt a Zero Trust Security Model Now

The dated “trust but verify” security models that relied on defended perimeters worked well enough in the past when employees, devices, and applications resided inside the network. However, those legacy approaches have become totally ineffective in today’s world of cloud, mobility, and distributed workforces.

With identities, data, and users everywhere, security teams can no longer make broad trust assumptions based on network location. The zero trust model was conceived in response to these new realities. By continuously authenticating and authorizing while also minimizing blast radius, zero trust architectures provide the flexible yet secure access critically needed in the modern enterprise.

In this article, we’ll examine 5 key reasons every organization needs to embrace zero trust principles going forward to substantially reduce security risk. We’ll also highlight example techniques to begin implementing zero trust controls across your people, devices, networks, data, applications, and infrastructure.

Reason 1: Align Security to Hybrid and Remote Work Realities

Perhaps the most compelling driver for zero trust is the shift towards hybrid work environments. Traditional network security models like VPNs were designed assuming most users and devices would reside on-premises behind the corporate firewall.

When remote employees connect via VPNs, they are granted the same full access as if they were in the office. Such all-or-nothing network access fails entirely to account for user behaviors, identity attributes, device security posture, and other contextual factors that should adapt privileges in a zero trust world.

Zero trust network access (ZTNA) solutions address these shortcomings. Leading options like Microsoft Azure Active Directory (AD) External Identities and Cloudflare Access broker access to specific applications based on user identity, device compliance, multifactor authentication, and other signals.

Location on the office LAN no longer dictates entitlements. This allows secure work from anywhere on any device, while restricting excessive access that invites lateral movement after breaches. As hybrid remote and office work persists, adopting zero trust network principles is essential.

Reason 2: Contain Lateral Movement After Breaches

Despite best efforts, some cyber attacks inevitably succeed at gaining an initial foothold perhaps via phishing or exploiting a vulnerability. At that point, legacy flat network architectures provide little resistance to attackers crawling horizontally across systems and silos. This enables adversaries to carry out extensive reconnaissance and damage.

Zero trust architectures significantly limit the blast radius of breaches by using microsegmentation and least privilege. With microsegmentation, application servers, databases, and other systems are isolated and only allowed to communicate with explicitly authorized resources over approved ports and protocols.

This form of granular segmentation built on zero trust policies prevents the total compromise of entire networks. Additional zero trust principles like just-in-time access and multifactor authentication for privileged accounts further contain attackers. By minimizing dwell time and freedom of movement, zero trust models reduce the risk and impact of threats that penetrate perimeter defenses.

Reason 3: Embrace Cloud Scale and Agility

Migrating application workloads and data to the cloud unlocks tremendous potential for growth, flexibility, and innovation. But attempting to force legacy network security controls into cloud environments can negate many cloud benefits.

For instance, backhauling cloud-hosted traffic through on-premises data centers over VPNs in order to apply legacy firewall policies severely impacts performance and agility. Extending old network architectures to the cloud simply doesn’t scale.

Zero trust frameworks decouple security policies from physical networks through identity-based microperimeters. This identity-centric approach aligns to cloud architectures and supports security at cloud speed and scale.

With zero trust, workloads can be added across multiple cloud regions orplatforms without having to overhaul underlying security controls. Changes get pushed as updated identity and access policies rather than reconfiguring VPNs and ACLs which inhibits cloud agility.

Reason 4: Reduce Your Attack Surface from Excessive Privileges

By implementing the zero trust tenets of least privilege and just-in-time access universally across IT ecosystems, organizations can substantially reduce their attack surface. Two common scenarios that increase risk include:

  • Standing admin privileges on workstations and servers that never expire, allowing any compromise of that device to gain high privileges.
  • Shared, stale service accounts used by multiple applications and tools for connections rather than per-app identities.

In both cases, zero trust controls limit the attack surface by constantly enforcing minimum permissions and granting elevated privileges only when justified. Multifactor authentication protects against abuse of admin rights by verifying additional factors before approving access.

Just-in-time access removes persistent credentials from devices altogether by requiring manual approval to temporarily elevate privileges through PAM tools like Microsoft Privileged Identity Management. By implementing least privilege and just-in-time across identities, zero trust shrinks the attack surface significantly.

Reason 5: Demonstrate Security Maturity for Audits and Regulations

Most cybersecurity frameworks and industry regulations have evolved to stress zero trust principles. Examples include the US government’s Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC 2.0) and cloud security guidelines from the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD).

By adopting zero trust controls, organizations can proactively demonstrate rigorous security practices rather than trying to explain shortcomings like stale VPN-based access models. Zero trust strengthens compliance stances and avoids embarrassing audit findings calling out dated architectures.

As zero trust becomes codified into more cyber standards, practitioners will benefit from getting ahead of the curve now before change is forced later. Evaluating zero trust capabilities also identifies forward-looking vendors to partner with versus dated holdouts.

Turning Zero Trust Aspirations into Reality

The strategic and tactical benefits of transitioning to a zero trust security model are compelling and multi-faceted. However, transforming established architecture paradigms organization-wide remains challenging. Here are some recommendations on where to begin executing your zero trust journey:

Start with identity foundation – Implement single sign-on (SSO) integrated with multifactor authentication for centralized access control across applications and resources. Cloud identity providers like Microsoft Azure AD provide building blocks.

Adopt zero trust network access – Phase out legacy VPNs by adopting ZTNA platforms from leaders like Zscaler, Akamai, and Perimeter81 that broker application access based on identity.

Segment critical systems – Map key business applications like ERP and CRM to develop microsegmentation policies that restrict lateral connectivity. Tools like Illumio and Guardicore simplify designing zero trust segmentation.

Apply least privilege controls – Audit directories, file shares, databases, and cloud permissions to remove unnecessary standing access and enforce just-in-time elevation.

Champion cultural shifts – Educate stakeholders that network location should not dictate trust like the old days. Promote continuous authentication.

While the path forward involves changes, zero trust delivers the confident security posture needed for the modern enterprise. Partner with identity and security experts like our team at DBGM Consulting to chart your zero trust transformation successfully. Don’t leave dated trust models exposed – the time to adopt zero trust is now.

Take Control of Identities: Building a Robust IAM Strategy

As organizations adopt cloud services and remote work exploded, identity and access management (IAM) has become a cornerstone of security. Implementing centralized, identity-based access controls needs to be a top priority.

In this guide, we’ll explore strategies and key capabilities for building a robust IAM program that reduces risk. By taking control of identities, you can confidently enable secure collaboration across your hybrid environment.

Streamline Administration with Single Sign-On

One of the biggest IAM benefits is implementing single sign-on (SSO) by integrating applications with your identity provider (IdP). This allows users to authenticate once via the IdP to seamlessly access all their apps and resources.

SSO eliminates the hassles of managing countless credentials while enhancing security. Look to replace all legacy app-specific logins with SSO using standards like SAML and OpenID Connect.

Enforce Least Privilege Access

Core to zero trust models, least privilege limits access to only what is required for each user or service account to perform their role. This reduces the blast radius if credentials or access tokens are compromised.

Review permissions across file shares, databases, cloud buckets, and more to trim unnecessary access. Integrate your IdP with analytics tools to detect excessive privileges that deviate from baselines.

Implement Just-in-Time Access

For sensitive resources like servers, implement just-in-time (JIT) access that requires explicit approval to elevate privileges temporarily. PAM solutions like Microsoft Privileged Identity Management (PIM) facilitate on-demand, time-bound role activation with approval workflows.

Replace open-ended privileged credentials that never expire with JIT access to limit standing privileges. Integrate ticketing systems to grant access only for approved windows.

Automate Provisioning and Lifecycle Management

Automating user and service account provisioning reduces security risks from manual errors and improves onboarding experiences. Use cloud directory services like Azure AD combined with identity governance tools to automatically fulfill access requests at scale.

Automated deprovisioning upon employee departures and privilege recertification based on roles are also critical for governance. Ongoing access reviews ensure only authorized users retain access.

Unify Access for Hybrid Environments

Leverage cloud IdP capabilities to unify management of identities and access across cloud, on-prem resources, and multi-cloud. This enhances security while providing seamless access experiences.

Integrate on-prem directories with cloud IdPs using federations or synchronization. Expand SSO and adaptive controls across hybrid apps and infrastructure.

Modern identity and access management delivers zero trust readiness while eliminating inefficiencies. Follow the strategies above to take control through robust IAM. Engage our IAM consultants at DBGM to kickstart your program successfully.

Migrating to the Cloud? 5 Compelling Reasons to Choose Microsoft Azure

Migrating business systems and data to the cloud unlocks game-changing agility, cost savings, and innovation. But choosing the right cloud provider is crucial to realize these benefits. In this article, we’ll explore 5 key advantages that make Microsoft Azure the ideal cloud target for most organizations.

Leverage Market-Leading Hybrid Capabilities

For many businesses, the optimal approach is a hybrid infrastructure that spans on-premises systems and the cloud. Microsoft delivers unrivaled capabilities for operating seamlessly across hybrid environments.

Key solutions like Azure Stack bring the agility of Azure public cloud to your own data center. This allows you to maintain tightly integrated private infrastructure while still leveraging cloud scale and speed when needed. Azure uniquely offers consistent APIs, management, and service delivery across public, private, and edge environments.

Microsoft also innovates rapidly to simplify hybrid with cutting-edge solutions like Azure Arc. This allows you to control infrastructure across data centers, edge, and multi-cloud through a single pane of glass. No other provider matches Microsoft’s commitment to hybrid.

Tap Into AI and Analytics Superpowers

Microsoft invests over $1 billion annually on Azure AI research and development. This makes Azure the ideal platform for building and deploying enterprise AI solutions.

Azure Cognitive Services provide pre-built AI models for vision, speech, language, search, and decision support. This enables you to easily add intelligent features like real-time translation and natural language processing (NLP) to applications. Azure Machine Learning facilitates training, automating, and rapidly deploying custom AI models at scale.

For turning data into insights, Azure Synapse Analytics delivers lightning fast query performance across data warehouses, lakes, and apps. Power BI provides intuitive business intelligence dashboards and natural language query capabilities.

Strengthen Security from the Ground Up

With an annual R&D budget of over $1 billion devoted to security, Microsoft offers the most advanced cloud security capabilities. Native Azure security tools like Defender identify and automatically mitigate threats before they lead to breaches.

You can also harness Microsoft’s experience protecting its own cloud assets. Microsoft investigates 20,000+ security incidents each year, using lessons learned to continually improve Azure defenses. Compliance is baked into Azure’s design as well, with broad certification coverage for HIPAA, PCI, FedRAMP, and other standards.

Maximize App Innovation with PaaS

Azure provides a rich set of platform-as-a-service (PaaS) capabilities that accelerate application development and modernization. With services like Azure App Service, Functions, and Logic Apps, developers can build cloud-native apps fast without worrying about infrastructure.

Azure accelerates app modernization by enabling you to replatform apps using containers, Kubernetes, and microservices architectures. This drives agility while preserving existing code investments. Azure can even run legacy apps like .NET and Java without changes, enabling lift and shift simplicity.

Scale Confidently with Enterprise Grade Reliability

Azure delivers industry-leading reliability with a 99.99% uptime SLA, automatic backups, and built-in resilience. You can deploy apps across Azure’s global network of data centers to put your systems closer to users while also adding redundancy.

Within data centers, Azure partitions services across fault domains and upgrades hydroxylated infrastructure without downtime. With Azure’s enterprise-grade design, you can confidently run your most critical, performance-sensitive workloads in the cloud.

While all leading cloud platforms have merits, Microsoft Azure stands apart with superior hybrid capabilities, AI strengths, security, developer services, and enterprise reliability. Moving systems and data to the cloud is a pivotal step for organizations today. With its unique advantages, Azure is the ideal place to start your cloud journey.

To determine the optimal migration and modernization path for your environment, leverage our expert Azure consultants at DBGM. We help companies succeed with Azure migrations from planning to execution. Contact us to get started charting your Azure future today.