Zero Trust Is a Must to Combat Shadow IT, Zero-Day Attacks And More

Cyber Security

You might have heard the terms Zero Trust and Shadow IT recently but left wondering: "What is it?" and "Do I really need it?"

Zero Trust is a security framework approach that considers any tool you use or install as untrustworthy until verified. According to PWC’s 2023 Global Digital Trust Insights Report, over 36% of Chief Information Security Officers (*CISOs) say they're implementing Zero Trust components. Another 25% will begin in the next two years. 

Unsurprisingly, Zero Trust is quickly becoming a significant factor in cybersecurity. Visibility and IT controls are crucial to secure, manage, and monitor every device, user, app, and network used to access business data. Here are the reasons Zero Trust is important for your business and how it will protect you from Shadow IT and other vulnerabilities.

Why Do I Need Zero Trust?

Cybersecurity incidents can occur at any moment, so businesses must take whatever precautions are available to be safe. Zero Trust elevates cybersecurity as a model that presumes every user, device, or network is untrustworthy by default until proven otherwise. It ensures every user or device attempting to access a resource or network undergoes numerous authentication and authorization layers before being allowed on the network. 

Our article “Should You be Using Zero Trust or Air Gap Networks?” discusses the pros and cons of utilizing Zero Trust. Ultimately, Zero Trust is quickly becoming a standard for every business. It's best to be proactive against potential threats to your network and information. It’s a core element to your line of cyber defense against ever-evolving threats.

What is Shadow IT?

"Shadow IT" refers to when network users install and/or use IT-related software and hardware without clearance from the organization's IT group or security party. As more technology tools and platforms become available, shadow IT has become a significant issue for companies. This creates limited visibility and control over the applications their employees are utilizing. Due to this, sensitive data can be exposed to an application, device, or tool without the company's knowledge.

Employees having free rein over what applications they use can be a major risk. That’s why it’s critical to restrict applications from running without explicit approval. To do this, you must arm your IT team with the necessary tools to control what runs in your environment.

How can Zero Trust Protect Against Shadow IT?

By the time you discover key vulnerabilities, it’s often too late. It can take developers days or months to patch an update or realize it's necessary. Once your application or software is compromised, it's likely that significant damage has already been done. That’s why it’s crucial that your cybersecurity strategy includes a proactive approach like zero trust.

With Zero Trust, shadow IT can’t slip past your business’ radar.  Your IT team must review and approve anything before it can be added to your network.  Maintaining a strict and careful eye on what applications your employees are utilizing ensures less room for error or exploitation. 

How Will I Implement It?

Zero Trust functionality should be fully integrated into your chosen security platform. For example, Zero Trust is a part of Usherwood's Odyssey Aegis security platform. This makes it so that when a user tries to open an application that’s unapproved by the organization, the application will be blocked. This prevents the use of unapproved applications and malware disguised as legitimate software. 

Previously, new applications, including unknown ransomware, could be installed and unnoticed. The Zero Trust framework will deny all software unless it’s been vetted and approved. Users will receive a pop-up notification to request access when downloading a new application. Users can request permission for unapproved applications. Once the request is submitted, an IT Professional will approve it promptly if it checks out okay.  

Look for Services That Include Zero Trust

Zero Trust is widely considered an essential part of a cybersecurity framework. Yet, it's not always included in IT service packages without an upcharge. Look for a managed IT service that includes Zero Trust in pricing, as this is an industry best practice.

It should raise suspicion if it's not included, as cybersecurity experts are widely adopting it as an industry standard. Given the recent increase in attacks on small businesses, the Federal Government has updated its security recommendations to include a zero-trust architecture. 

Learn More About How To Implement Zero Trust

If you’re interested in learning how Zero Trust can benefit your business or to learn more about our how it works as a part of our Odyssey Aegis security platform, reach out and connect with one of our knowledgeable tech experts. If you're not sure where to start with cybersecurity, check out our free Cybersecurity Checklist below.

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About Jada Sterling, Digital Content Manager

Jada Sterling is Usherwood's Content Manager. She is responsible for developing content that furthers the mission of Usherwood Office Technology by helping clients and prospective clients better understand how technology can help grow their business.