Running a Hybrid Workforce? You Need to Know About Zero Trust Security


June 27, 2024

Did you know that, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, over 40% of Australian employees now work remotely at least part of the time? This shift toward remote work has helped people balance their professional and family lives, gaining more freedom and flexibility in the process. Like all good things, however, remote work comes with its challenges. Perhaps the most problematic for business owners is the issue of security.

As we’ve reported on before, human error is often the easiest way for cybercriminals to access a well fortified system. Indeed, recent statistics reveal that around 82% of reported data breaches were achieved through social engineering (attacks that leverage human error). Depending on the size of your business and the boldness of the cybercriminals involved, these attacks can cost you anywhere from a few thousand to a few million dollars. That’s before we factor in fines, penalties, and the devastating impact on your reputation. 

There’s a lot at stake, and unfortunately, remote access opens up new vectors via which bad actors can access your systems. With employees no longer tethered to cubicles, they’re free to work from home, coffee shops, or even while travelling. This means their personal cyber hygiene (or lack thereof) will affect your business in ways it never has before. 

Previously, if one of your team members accessed public Wi-Fi or left their laptop unattended at a café, that was their risk to take and their consequences to bear. But if they’re accessing your systems with this same reckless abandon, you could wear the consequences, even if you have robust security measures in place.  

Thankfully, we’re not just here to deliver depressing news. Though cyberthreats are always evolving, the cybersecurity industry is just as quick to adapt. For businesses working with remote and hybrid models, Zero Trust security has emerged as one of the most powerful weapons of defence. 

Below, we break down everything Australian business owners need to know about Zero Trust security. From its basic definition to its benefits, we’ll get you up to speed, using everyday English to ensure all the IT jargon makes sense. Let’s get started with the basics. 

What Is Zero Trust Security? 

Zero Trust is a security framework that operates on the principle of “never trust, always verify.” Instead of relying on implicit trust based on network location or user identity, Zero Trust assumes that threats can and will come from anywhere. 

Here are the core principles of Zero Trust:

  1. Verify Explicitly: Strong authentication is the priority. Instead of relying on passwords alone, Zero Trust systems demand multifactor authentication (MFA) and may even include sophisticated and user-friendly passwordless options. Real-time access decisions can be based on user behaviour and context to enhance security.
  2. Grant Least Privileged Access: Users should only have access to the resources they need to perform their tasks. This means you’ll implement granular access controls and continuously monitor access requests.
  3. Assume Breach: Rather than assuming everything inside the network is secure, Zero Trust assumes the worst. Basically, your system is anxious and pessimistic, so you don’t have to be. This heightened vigilance manifests in the form of continuous monitoring, threat detection, and rapid incident response.

How Does Zero Trust Security Work? 

Imagine your business network as a building. In a basic system, everyone who gets past the front door (your firewall) had access to everything. With Zero Trust security, you divide the building into separate, individually secured rooms dedicated to different functions. Employees only get access to the rooms (applications and data) they need for their job, and strong security controls are in place at each entrance. 

So, even if an unauthorised person sneaks into the building, they still have a lot of work ahead of them if they want to access anything meaningful. This gives your cybersecurity system time to detect the breach and kick them out. 

Zero Trust also verifies everyone’s identity, like a security guard might in a traditional corporate building. Just as that security guard would notice if a person’s ID didn’t match their appearance, so too can a Zero Trust security system recognise if something’s off about a user’s login attempt. Having the right details doesn’t guarantee access – remote users need to be able to prove who they are in more ways than one. 

In short, Zero Trust turns your network into a high-security building, with different levels of access and constant vigilance to keep everything safe.

Zero Trust and Hybrid Workforces: A Perfect Match

With your hybrid workforce, the lines between the office and everyone’s homes are more flexible than ever. Traditional security struggles with this, but Zero Trust security is purpose-built for this new reality. Instead of relying on a single, hard perimeter (your firewall), Zero Trust adapts to the constantly changing environment, ensuring everyone has secure access no matter where they’re working from.

Cybercriminals may be getting more sophisticated by the minute, but Zero Trust is designed to outrun them. By focusing on individual users and devices, it makes it much harder for attackers to move around your network, even if they do manage to squeeze through a crack. If a breach happens, the damage is contained, keeping your data and systems safe.

One of the biggest benefits of Zero Trust security is that this hypervigilance doesn’t come at the cost of convenience for you and your workers. In fact, it can keep the user experience delightfully smooth in a hybrid environment. Zero Trust doesn’t force everyone to jump through unnecessary hoops or treat them all like potential threats. Instead, it focuses on making sure the right people have access to the information they need to do their jobs, regardless of their location.

Zero Trust Solutions for Remote Teams

Far from hassling your team with frustrating security steps, Zero Trust can, in fact, free them from passwords entirely. Zero Trust security offers options like temporary access passes, making logins secure and convenient. Plus, Azure AD’s Conditional Access acts as a vigilant security guard, analysing factors like location, device, and even unusual behaviour to grant access only when it’s safe.

Zero trust includes Data Loss Prevention (DLP) solutions that act like watchful guardians, identifying and stopping sensitive information from slipping through the cracks, regardless of device or location. At the same time, Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA) gives your team hidden, highly secure gateways through which to access your system. This keeps your valuable applications and resources shielded from direct internet access, minimising the visible “surface area” that’s vulnerable to attacks.

The beauty of Zero Trust is that the system never sleeps or slacks off. It’s always working for you, using threat intelligence to stay ahead of cybercriminals and monitor user activity, network traffic, and application logs for any suspicious behaviour. This allows for swift action to contain threats and keep your data safe. With zero trust, your hybrid workforce can enjoy the flexibility of remote work with the peace of mind that comes with robust security.

Of course, it’s still important for you and your workers to maintain good cyber hygiene. We recommend regular cybersecurity refresher training to ensure you’re all up-to-date on the latest attack vectors and best practices. You can also stay on top of things year-round by checking in on the Invotec blog. The best place to start is with our seven crucial security tips for remote and hybrid teams

Remote Work Made Safe, Secure, and Convenient

The days of commuting to your cubicle every day are gone, and we’re happy to have them behind us. Remote work can be incredibly advantageous for employees and business owners alike, improving health and wellbeing, expanding the available talent pool, and boosting productivity. Many people thrive when given the freedom to work from home, cafés, remote mountain cabins, and anywhere with a decent Wi-Fi connection. 

As your employees explore these new frontiers, they can’t help but open you up to more risk. However, that doesn’t have to be a terrifying proposition. Zero Trust frees you and your team to work seamlessly and fearlessly from anywhere. It acts like a personal security detail for your data, constantly verifying identities, monitoring activity, and ensuring only authorised users are granted access.

The benefits are real. No more worrying about data breaches crippling your business. No more clunky security measures slowing down your team’s workflow. Instead, your people can focus on what they do best, while you rest easy knowing your information is safe.

Ready to unlock the full potential of your hybrid workforce? You don’t have to figure it out alone.  Invotec’s IT experts take a collaborative approach, working alongside you to craft a security strategy that’s perfectly tailored to your business. Schedule a free consultation with one of our data security experts today and discover how Zero Trust can transform your hybrid workforce, not hinder it. Let’s build a security solution that’s as dynamic and adaptable as your team.

Book a FREE Consultation

When you choose Invotec, we want you to feel 100% confident. That’s why we offer a free consultation for all schools, to see if we’re a perfect fit. Request your free consultation today and take the first step towards better IT Support.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.