Traditionally, cybersecurity experts have recommended a castle and moat approach that emphasizes blocking actors outside the network from accessing data on the inside. However, this approach also allows complete access of data, mostly without second verification or reauthorization at each access attempt for everyone inside the network. For years, this process has worked well and has kept networks relatively free from cybercriminals.
However, the past few years have shown that cybercriminals are now able to attack from inside of a network. Remote cyberattacks, inside jobs, using phishing emails and password attacks have emerged as some of the most effective methods to get around the castle and moat cybersecurity models that run most networks. Recent cyberattacks, however, have begun to change the perspective of what a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy should be. In May 2021, President Joe Biden signed an executive order outlining the goals of migrating federal agencies from the castle and moat cybersecurity approach to a zero-trust cybersecurity approach. The growing number of cyberattacks has also seen other businesses, non-governmental organizations, and health care providers of all types start to adopt the zero-trust architecture for their networks. Unfortunately, the cybersecurity model still remains unpopular, and in most veterinary practices, the castle and moat strategy still continues to be the number one approach to solving cybersecurity challenges. Below is a look at what zero-trust architecture is and how it can help your veterinary practice adapt to the growing cybersecurity threat.
What is Zero Trust Architecture?
Zero-trust is a strategic cybersecurity approach that secures networks by eliminating implicit trust and continuously validating every stage of a digital interaction. The core principal of the zero-trust architecture is “never trust, always verify,” and it majorly emphasizes strong authentication methods, leveraged network segmentation, and prevention of lateral movement to achieve its goals.
The zero-trust approach was created due to a growing realization that the current understanding of cybersecurity, which gave implicit trust to everything inside an organization’s networks, was faulty. The realization was supported by data which showed that, a majority of cybersecurity threats that most networks were exposed to were coming from inside the network. The lateral movement of cybercriminals after they have compromised a single computer in a network was also concerning and called for a new approach to prevent the entire networks from getting compromised by cybercriminals.
In practice, a zero-trust policy looks like replacing a single-sign-on system, which lets users sign in just once and be able to access the entire networks and applications, with a system that verifies every stage and level of access requested. The system also ensures that each application has a verification process to ensure that unauthorized users are not accessing it and causing damage to the network.
Fundamentals of the Zero Trust Architecture
The zero-trust architecture is built upon five fundamentals assertions:
The network is always assumed to be hostile.
External and internal threats exist on the network at all times.
The network locality is not sufficient for deciding trust in a network.
Every device, user, and network must be authenticated and authorized.
Policies of a zero-trust architecture must be dynamic and calculated from as many sources of data as possible.
The Benefits of Zero Trust Architecture
As a veterinary practice, your chances of getting attacked by cybercriminals are always high. However, compared to zero-trust architecture, the current castle and moat cybersecurity doctrine in most veterinary practices will likely result in your networks being compromised at a higher rate. Below are some other benefits that you will get by migrating to a zero-trust architecture.
Reduces threat surface: By implementing the zero-trust policy, your veterinary practice will be able to reduce the number of avenues that your computer system can be attacked from. The threat surface, being the total number of all possible entry points for unauthorized access into any system, is reduced by always verifying each entry point and keeping would-be cybercriminals from accessing the data or applications on the network.
Users have high access control over cloud and container environments: Chances are, if you have upgraded your IT infrastructure in your veterinary practice, some of your upgrades involved cloud computing environments. To effectively protect some of these environments and IT infrastructure, a zero-trust policy can help in ensuring only verifiable and authenticated users access the networks.
Reduces risk of data breach: Most data breach is due to implicit trust given in the networks. This allows cybercriminals to lateral move through the network and cause damage. To avoid this, a zero-trust strategy ensures least privilege access where every entity is assumed hostile. This allows verification at every stage, reducing the chances of a data breach.
Protection against both internal and external threats: with the castle and moat strategy, threats from the inside are ignored. However, the zero-trust strategy assumes every access is hostile, including those originating from inside the network. Therefore, verification and authentication are required, which limits the ability of cybercriminals to use internal network compromising strategies to move laterally through the network.
Improved visibility into all user activity: All users in your network can be effectively monitored using the zero-trust architecture. This increases the chances of effectively auditing your computer network after an attack. It also reduces the chances that an internal threat will be able to launch a cyberattack.
Today, most veterinary practices’ networks still use the castle and moat cybersecurity strategy to protect against all forms of threats. However, despite the strategy working in the past, the past few months have shown that cybercriminals are becoming aggressively creative, and the strategy is increasingly becoming ineffective. Therefore, it is important to come up with a working strategy that, not only protects your business from cybercriminals, but also keeps your data safe from mistakes that can be made internally by your staff.
Such a safeguard system that has been proven in the markets today is the zero-trust architecture. When implemented, veterinary practices will be able to protect their networks more effectively. The next cybercriminal who tries to compromise your network will not succeed due to zero-trust restrictions on your network.
Are you unsure if your hospital has been properly protected from a Ransomware attack?
A cyber security audit is the only way to know what your risks are. Its like pulling a complete blood panel. You have to look under the hood. The great news is that Lucca is the only cyber security company focused solely in the veterinary space. Schedule a FREE call today to see how our Veterinary Cyber Security Audit can help keep your practice protected.