Traditionally, network security works by allotting a set of trusted individuals access to a system via username and password. This approached was sufficient when all users remained inside the organization’s firewall, but this is no longer the case. As more and more organizations have migrated to cloud computing in the past few years, it has changed how we think about computing and security. With mobile devices and intangible databases, there is no longer a hard perimeter to keep users and information in. Furthermore, more people need access to your network than ever before, including contractors, customers, partners, consultants, and managed service providers (MSPs). These individuals may not be direct employees of your organization, but they need network access all the same. As a result, organizations have had to alter how they defend and secure company data.
Especially in the last year, as most professionals worked remotely, individuals need remote access to the organization's network while still keeping data protected. Even before this, the old approach to network security became outdated as cybercrime grew more advanced and prominent. Companies must be able to allow access to necessary personnel while ensuring their safety, and it needs to be done quickly and efficiently. To face this dilemma, many organizations have implemented zero-trust security. Zero trust security is a concept based on the idea that organizations should not automatically trust anything. Instead, all individuals trying to connect to the organization’s systems must be verified before access is granted. This is exceptionally beneficial to strengthening a company's information security, in addition to benefiting MSPs.
How Does Zero Trust Work?
Before we talk about how zero trust security will benefit your MSP, let’s go into more detail about what zero trust entails. Attacks on your organization’s information can come from anywhere, both internally and externally. With this in mind, no person, device, or application in the enterprise network should be trusted by default. It is all too easy to steal an individual’s username and password, so zero trust goes a few steps further. The basis of the system’s trust is based on the refactored access control using advanced authentication and authorization. Before an individual is allowed access to your network, they will have to go through second-factor authentication to ensure that they are who they claim to be and they have permission to access that specific information.
Beyond this, zero-trust also looks for patterns in behavior. This includes where the person or device is signing in from, which device they are using, and what they are trying to do. If any of these behaviors appear inconsistent with their typical behavior, the system will flag it and require additional verification before access is granted. This ensures that if an unverified user uses a user's device or login, they will be stopped before accessing critical and private data. For organizations permitting access to a large volume of individuals, this is especially crucial.
Zero Trust Will Benefit Your MSP
So, how does zero-trust apply to managed service providers? As an MSP, you are an external party to every organization that you work with. For an MSP to supplement an organization’s IT department, they must have access to an organization’s network system. This requires a great deal of trust from their customers, as they have access to sensitive company and customer information which must be protected. As a result, MSPs should incorporate a zero-trust approach to their security service offerings. This will ensure that customer data, whether in the cloud or on-premise, is kept secure while employees securely access corporate information from wherever they work.
For MSPs to ensure future growth, zero-trust security is a must. According to Gartner, by 2023, 60% of VPNs will be replaced by zero-trust solutions. This is because currently, VPNs only check credentials once. This means that a compromised device could cause significant network damage before a breach is even noticed. Persistent access by unauthorized or unsecured devices can no longer be a part of any company's operating procedures. By implementing zero trust now, MSPs can obtain a significant competitive advantage and offer this solution before competitors.
Common zero trust approaches include the automatic identification of potential policy violations, authentication of endpoint users, and the acceleration of response to problems. These solutions place more focus on the endpoint of the system instead of inspecting traffic in the cloud. This eliminates common latency issues that are otherwise associated with performing cross-cloud authentication. This means that users can be authenticated and verified quickly and thoroughly without compromising the speed and integrity of the network. Overall, the zero-trust approach focuses on verifying user identities, device access, and services without making assumptions. This dramatically reduces remote computing and application access risks, allowing MSPs to access customer networks safely and efficiently.
Offering Zero Trust Solutions
There is a growing market for zero-trust solutions, especially for managed services providers where the concept is not yet common practice. To ensure the longevity of your organization's success, MSPs must integrate zero trust security into their service portfolio. There are three beneficial practices to doing this.
- Differentiate your zero-trust solutions. There are countless security tools and solutions on the market right now. If customers are seeking the services of your organization, it is clear that they are searching for these tools, and one of them is zero-trust security. By creating tailored zero-trust solutions and targeting them at specific market segments, you can differentiate this solution. If you are able to address your customer's specific needs through zero-trust, you will have a tremendous competitive advantage, and customers will not be able to get the solution they need elsewhere.
- Vet technology vendors. Few technology vendors are able to provide a full end-to-end system. Because of this, it is vital to evaluate vendor claims thoroughly. Review what they offer in cloud and on-premises, what partners they work with, how research firms rank them, and their financial situation. This will help you ensure that all systems and solutions will be compatible.
- Train and certify your team. Before selling or deploying any solutions, you must ensure that your team is comfortable with them. Take advantage of vendor training and make sure that everyone in your organization has a clear understanding of your solutions and can deploy them effectively. Some firms offer zero-trust certification programs, which can be an excellent tool in training and educating your team.
Zero trust security can provide MSPs and their clients with several significant benefits. By authenticating users and endpoint devices more thoroughly than ever, access to critical information can be limited to only those with explicit permission. This will ensure the continued health of an organization’s network via a centralized and user-friendly solution. All MSPs should hold information security as one of their top priorities. For those that do, zero-trust will allow you to grow in a healing economy and take advantage of a lucrative opportunity in a market searching for better security solutions. Zero trust security will serve as an incredible competitive advantage in your portfolio, in addition to strengthening security and keeping information protected.