Bottom Line: Zero Trust Security (ZTS) starts with Next-Gen Access (NGA). Capitalizing on machine learning technology to enable NGA is essential in achieving user adoption, scalability, and agility in securing applications, devices, endpoints, and infrastructure.
How Next-Gen Access and Machine Learning Enable Zero Trust Security
Zero Trust Security provides digital businesses with the security strategy they need to keep growing by scaling across each new perimeter and endpoint created as a result of growth. ZTS in the context of Next-Gen Access is built on four main pillars: (1) verify the user, (2) validate their device, (3) limit access and privilege, and (4) learn and adapt. The fourth pillar heavily relies on machine learning to discover risky user behavior and apply for conditional access without impacting user experience by looking for contextual and behavior patterns in access data.
As ZTS assumes that untrusted users or actors already exist both inside and outside the network, machine learning provides NGA with the capability to assess data about users, their devices, and behavior to allow access, block access, or enforce additional authentication. With machine learning, policies and user profiles can be adjusted automatically and in real-time. While NGA enabled by machine learning is delivering dashboards and alerts, the real-time response to security threats predicated on risk scores is very effective in thwarting breaches before they start.
Building NGA apps based on machine learning technology yields the benefits of being non-intrusive, supporting the productivity of workforce and business partners, and ultimately allowing digital businesses to grow without interruption. For example, Centrify’s rapid advances in machine learning and Next-Gen Access to enable ZTS strategies makes this company one of the most interesting to watch in enterprise security.
The following are three ways machine learning is revolutionizing Zero Trust Security:
- Machine learning enables enterprises to adopt a risk-based security strategy that can flex with their business as it grows. Many digital businesses have realized that “risk is security’s new compliance,” and therefore are implementing a risk-driven rather than a compliance-driven approach. Relying on machine learning technology to assess user, device, and behavioral data for each access request derives a real-time risk score. This risk score can then be used to determine whether to allow access, block access, or step up authentication. In evaluating each access request, machine learning engines process multiple factors, including the location of the access attempt, browser type, operating system, endpoint device status, user attributes, time of day, and unusual recent privilege change. Machine learning algorithms are also scaling to take into account unusual command runs, unusual resource access histories, and any unusual accounts used, unusual privileges requested and used, and more. This approach helps thwart comprised credential attacks, which make up 81% of all hacking-related data breaches, according to Verizon.
- Machine learning makes it possible to accomplish security policy alignment at scale. To keep pace with a growing digital business’ need to flex and scale to support new business models, machine learning also assists in automatically adjusting user profiles and access policies based on behavioral patterns. By doing so, the need for IT staffers to review and adjust policies vanishes, freeing them up to focus on things that will grow the business faster and more profitably. On the other hand, end users are not burdened with step-up authentication once a prior abnormal behavior is identified as now typical behavior and therefore both user profile and policies updated.
- Machine learning brings greater contextual intelligence into authentication, streamlining the experience and increasing user adoption. Ultimately, the best security is transparent and non-intrusive. That’s where the use of risk-based authentication and machine learning technology comes into play. The main impediment to adoption for multi-factor authentication has been the perceived impact on the productivity and agility of end users. A recent study by Dow Jones Customer Intelligence and Centrify revealed that 62% of CEOs state that multi-factor authentication (MFA) is difficult to manage and is not user-friendly, while only 41% of technical officers (CIOs, CTOs, and CISOs) agree with this assessment. For example, having to manually type in a code that has been transmitted via SMS in addition to the already supplied username and password is often seen as cumbersome. Technology advancements are removing some of these objections by offering a more user-friendly experience, like eliminating the need to manually enter a one-time password on the endpoint, by enabling the user to simply click a button on their smartphone. Nonetheless, some users still express frustration with this additional step, even if it is relatively quick and simple. To overcome these remaining barriers to adoption, machine learning technology contributes to minimizing the exposure to step up authentication over time, as the engine learns and adapts to the behavioral patterns.
Zero Trust Security through the power of Next-Gen Access is allowing digital businesses to continue on their path of growth while safeguarding their patented ideas and intellectual property. Relying on machine learning technology for Next-Gen Access results in real-time security, allowing to identify high-risk events and ultimately greatly minimizing the effort required to identify threats across today’s hybrid IT environment.