Bottom Line: Small businesses don’t need to sacrifice security due to budget constraints or productivity requirements – a Zero Trust roadmap can help them keep growing and stop breaches.
Having worked my way through college in a series of small businesses and having neighbors and friends who operate several today, I see how cloud, databases, and network devices save thousands of dollars, hours of tedious work, and streamline operations. Good friends running an AI startup, whose remarkable ability to turn whiteboard discussions into prototypes in a day, are a case in point. Keeping breach attempts from interrupting their growth needs to start with a roadmap to Zero Trust so these businesses can keep flourishing.
Defining A Zero Trust Roadmap
Most successful small businesses and my friends’ growing startup share the common trait of moving at a quick pace. They’re hiring new employees, contractors and adding new locations in days, not months. The startups and small businesses I work with are adding experts in AI, development, machine learning, sales, and marketing from around the world quickly. Each new employee, contractor, and occasional supplier receives their account login to cloud systems used for running the business, and then they’re given their first assignments.
Small Businesses Don’t Need To Sacrifice Speed For Security
Small businesses and startups run so fast there’s often a perception that achieving greater security will slow them down. In a Zero Trust world, they don’t need to spend a lot of sacrifice speed for security. Following a Zero Trust roadmap can protect their systems, valuable intellectual property, and valuable time by minimizing the risk of falling victim to costly breaches.
Here’s what small businesses and startups need to include on their Zero Trust roadmaps to reduce the potential for time-consuming, costly breaches that could steal not just data but market momentum too:
- Put Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) into place for every contractor, admin user, and partner account immediately. Implementing MFA is highly recommended as it can reduce the risk of privileged access credential abuse. A recent survey by Centrify found that 74% of all breaches involved privileged access abuse. Centrify also found that 58% of organizations do not use Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) for privileged administrative access to servers, leaving their IT systems and infrastructure exposed to hacking attempts, including unchallenged privileged access abuse.
- Get a shared account and password vault to reduce the risk of being breached by privileged access abuse. Password vaults are a must-have for any business that relies on intellectual property (IP), patents, source code under development, and proprietary data that is pivotal to the company’s growth. Vaults make sure only trusted applications can request privileged account credentials by first identifying, then validating system accounts before passwords are retrieved. Another major advantage of vaults is that they minimize attack surfaces for small businesses and startups.
- Secure Remote Access needs to be in place to ensure employee, contractor, and IT systems contractors are given least privilege access to only the resources they need. Small businesses and startups growing fast often don’t have the expertise on staff to manage their IT systems. It’s cheaper for many to have an IT service manage server maintenance, upgrades, and security. Secure Remote Access is predicated on the “never trust, always verify, enforce least privilege” Zero Trust approach to grant access to specific resources.
- Implement real-time audit and monitoring to track all privileged sessions and metadata auditing everything across all systems to deliver a comprehensive picture of intentions and outcomes. Creating and adding to an ongoing chronology of login and resource attempts is invaluable for discovering how a security incident first gets started, and for meeting compliance requirements. It’s much easier to identify and thwart privileged credential abuse based on the insights gained from the single system of record a real-time audit and monitoring service creates. As small businesses and startups grow, the data that real-time audits and monitoring generate are invaluable in proving privileged access is controlled and audited to meet the regulatory compliance requirements of SOX, HIPAA, FISMA, NIST, PCI, MAS, and other regulatory standards.
- Privileged access credentials to network devices need to be part of the Zero Trust Roadmap. Small businesses and startups face a continual time shortage and sometimes forget to change the manufacturer default passwords which are often weak and well known in the hacker community. That’s why it needs to be a priority to include the network device portfolio in A Zero Trust Privilege-based security roadmap and strategy. Security admins need to have these included in the shared account and passwords vault.
The five factors mentioned here are the start of building a scalable, secure Zero Trust roadmap that will help alleviate the leading cause of breaches today, which is privileged access credential abuse. For small businesses who are outsourcing IT and security administration, the core elements of the Zero Trust roadmap provide them the secure login and a “never trust, always verify, enforce least privilege” strategy that can scale with their business. With Zero Trust Privilege, small businesses and startups will be able to grant least privilege access based on verifying who is requesting access, the context of the request, and the risk of the access environment