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Given the increased sophistication and pervasiveness of modern cyberattacks, the assumption that anything within the security perimeter of the organisation can be trusted is quickly being replaced by a Zero Trust approach.

As the name suggests, it sees no user, device, or system either inside or outside a company’s cybersecurity perimeter being trusted. This is according to Syrex, a provider of hyperconverged cloud technology solutions in South Africa.

“Hybrid work, the rise of Internet of Things, and analysing data close to the edge mean traditional ways of safeguarding data are no longer sufficient. Zero Trust has emerged as a more proactive way for businesses to keep their systems, data, and networks protected against compromise,” says Ralph Berndt, sales and marketing director at Syrex.

All this contributes to a rapidly expanding attack surface where cybercriminals are continuously searching for the weakest link in the cybersecurity chain. Once the integrity of the corporate network has been compromised, malicious users can remain undetected for months stealing data and potentially infecting files with malware. Some research suggests that it takes an average of six months for a company to detect a breach in its defences. By this time, significant damage would have been done.

“Zero Trust takes what people think they know about cybersecurity and throws it on its head. The ‘never trust, always verify’ mindset is quickly proliferating in companies around the world as one of the most effective forms of protection against compromise. Of course, Zero Trust is more than a mindset – it is a cybersecurity model that will assist in shoring up any weak points in the perimeter.”

By denying access by default to users, devices, and systems, an organisation can isolate traffic until such time as a level of trust is established. However, if Zero Trust is to be effective, a level of automation and orchestration must be employed. The sheer amount of access points connecting to the corporate network today mean security personnel cannot be solely responsible for managing it. Fundamentally, a Zero Trust architecture must integrate within the existing cybersecurity environment of a company to leverage its existing investments.

Think of Zero Trust as providing cloud security beyond the perimeter. It effectively extends the safety net typically associated with cyber defence solutions inside the organisation and ensures that nothing malicious can gain access to sensitive data and infrastructure.

“Zero Trust does not have to be a complex or expensive undertaking. It is also not about reinventing the cybersecurity wheel but just approaching from a different perspective. It all begins with the company needing to identify and understand its entire environment. Critical to this is monitoring, logging, and analysing every activity across the network. Once this is done, Zero Trust can be managed through policy and procedures using advanced solutions that can automate much of the defences. It comes down to injecting real-time threat prevention and detection across all entry points into the business. By enabling the company to pro-actively managing access as opposed to reacting to attacks that have already penetrated the perimeter, decision-makers can deliver a better security environment that allows for better productivity and growth,” concludes Berndt.