Zero Trust is not just a technology solution – it’s a people solution

8 Nov 2023 | by David Hollingworth


  • Zero Trust is exactly that – it is when you, as an organisation, assume that hackers are inside your network, and that anyone inside your network could be a source of compromise.
  • At the heart of this idea is education – if all staff are adequately trained in spotting phishing and other attack methods, then you heave a deeper set of cyber defences in place.
  • Technical reviews are still important – knowing how large your attack surface is, and segmenting & monitoring your network alongside insitituting strong access controls, all boost an organisation’s security posture.

Traditional security models operate on the assumption that everything inside the network is trustworthy, while everything outside is a potential threat. Zero Trust, however, flips this notion on its head; in a Zero Trust  architecture nothing, inside or outside the network, is trusted.

Zero Trust is, at its core, rooted in scepticism. It acknowledges that human error, negligence, or even malicious intent can be the Achilles' heel of even the most robust cyber security posture.

The technical aspects of zero-trust focus on segmentation, micro-segmentation, and strict access controls. Networks are divided into smaller, isolated segments, making lateral movement for cybercriminals extremely challenging. User access is restricted to only what is necessary, based on the principle of least privilege, limiting potential damage in the event of a breach.

However, the real beauty of Zero Trust is that it doesn't stop at the technical aspects. It recognizes that the human factor is a significant source of vulnerabilities and, at the same time, a powerful defensive layer.

Here's how this works.

Every employee, from the C-suite right down to the interns and new hires, is considered a potential target or attack vector. Through social engineering, phishing, or simple mistakes, anyone can inadvertently compromise security. Zero Trust acknowledges this and encourages a culture of security awareness and responsibility across the whole of an organisation.

It's not just about stringent security policies; it's about educating and engaging employees – all employees – to be an integral part of an organisation’s security posture. A well-informed and vigilant workforce can serve as an active shield against many common cyber threats. Regular security awareness training, simulated phishing exercises, and clear communication about cyber security risks give employees the skills to make better decisions.

Another facet of Zero Trust emphasises continuous monitoring and risk assessment. By analysing employee behavioural patterns and access logs, any suspicious activities can be quickly identified. Rather than simply blocking or restricting access, Zero Trust is about investigating and understanding the intent behind these actions – they could be entirely innocent after all, but it’s better to know for sure.

Integrating identity and access management solutions within a Zero Trust framework further enhances the people-centric approach. IAM ensures that users – whether they’re employees, contractors, or partners – are who they claim to be, and their access is only granted when necessary. It allows administrators to track and manage permissions, adapting them to the evolving needs of the organisation.

A security strategy is only as strong as its weakest link, which is often a human. Zero Trust architecture is designed to keep humans in the picture at all levels of an organisation, by providing the right tools, the right training, and continuously monitoring for anomalies.

In a Zero Trust environment, the human element as a powerful defence, not just a potential vulnerability.

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