Your data is your most important asset, second only to the people working in your organization. Data security encompasses the protection of data stored physically and virtually, as well as all data during its creation, transfer, and deletion. This data can include sensitive information, such as employee and customer data, financial data, intellectual property, and trade secrets.
If any of this were to fall into the wrong hands, it could be catastrophic for your company. This is why a zero-trust approach to data security is necessary to strictly control access to your data and minimize the chances that an attacker can steal or alter it in any way.
What is Zero Trust Security?
Zero trust security is a method of securing your digital assets and infrastructure by:
- Authenticating a user’s identity and authorization level for access to a network or system.
- Limiting a user’s access to only what they need to perform their duties and only when they need it (known as least privilege access).
- Maintain full visibility into the traffic on your network to ensure threat detection and adequate defense.
You can learn more about zero-trust security here.
Data Security with Zero Trust
Data security using a zero-trust approach is built on the following five components, which provide an understanding of your data, users, and network traffic.
Know your Data
You must have a comprehensive understanding of the data you have. This includes classifying your data based on its level of sensitivity, as well as where it is stored and how it moves throughout your network. With this knowledge, you can classify and label your data and determine the appropriate zero-trust access controls, ensuring the more sensitive the data is, the more restricted the access becomes.
Implement Access Control
Once your data is classified and labeled based on its sensitivity, you can determine the appropriate access control. This means:
- Setting the appropriate permissions – Use the concept of least privilege to control the access of both internal and external users on all platforms, servers, and devices. This includes SaaS applications, SaaS/IaaS storage, and meeting/collaboration apps. With automation, you can apply the concept of least privilege at scale, reducing your attack surface while allowing users to request access when needed.
- Protecting data in transit – Base access to data emailed on user-defined permissions or the applied sensitivity labels and ensure that encryption is used to protect sensitive documents.
Minimize Insider Risk
With the ability to access, transfer, and manage data more easily, employees are more hands-on with organizational data. Employees can knowingly or unknowingly put data at risk or fail to meet regulatory compliance requirements.
Manage the Data Lifecycle
Data that no longer exists means all privileges to access that data are removed. By deleting unnecessary data, which is data that your organization no longer requires, you are completely removing the risk of unauthorized access to that data.
Prevent Data Leakage
Controlling access to your data is only one step in protecting it. data can still be inadvertently leaked during transfer. For this reason, it is important to limit the duplication of sensitive data by requiring that the sharing of data where it resides takes the place of data transfer.
Continuously Monitor Your Data
Automation is the key here. You must know what is happening with your data at every moment, meaning where it is, who is accessing it, and how it is being used. AI can constantly monitor your network for behavior patterns that allow it to detect unauthorized access and the misuse of data, ensuring that your zero-trust model is as effective as possible.
With the above said regarding the zero-trust approach to data security, it is important to understand that it does not remove all risk of a data breach. Anyone who has already been granted the proper authorization and permissions via SaaS can access any data on the system or network to which they have gained access. So, while a network can be segmented, the data in any segment cannot.
The people who could take advantage of this to steal and compromise sensitive and critical data are disgruntled employees and those who have resigned or been let go yet still have access to the network. It also applies to employees who may accidentally share data with another party, data shared publicly via a link, and third-party partners with access to the network.
To mitigate this risk, segment your network with data access in mind to minimize the risk of a user accessing more data than they need for their function. Be sure to remove all access permissions and authorization and delete accounts as soon as possible when an employee leaves the company for any reason.
Contact Platinum Technologies today to learn how we can help you achieve data security using the zero-trust approach.