Least Privilege, Zero Trust, and Your Business Data Access Management
Dan Levenson August 01, 2022
You have likely heard that your business cybersecurity needs to run on least privilege, zero-trust, and make use of data access management. But what does this really mean, and how do these methods offer an essential layer of internal data protection?
Authorization and Access Management
Every employee is also an entity in your data system. They have data created about them and are able to access company data through platforms and file systems. They can contact customers through the company CRM or contact list, and they can make changes to projects that they have editing permissions for. Modern employment is a landscape of access management, with each employee accessing a unique tree of files, systems, and sections of your business data network.
Of course, not every employee should access every part of your business data. Your marketing team doesn’t need to – and shouldn’t – see finance department spreadsheets. your shipping team shouldn’t know anything about the customers, and HR’s employee records should be siloed from access by almost any other user or department. Managing this complex – yet practical – ruleset about employee access to specific company data is called data access management.
Access management gives access to each project, file, or folder based on individual authorization and permissions. Permission can be granted as part of group membership (ex: on the marketing team) or granted individually.
Keeping employees from seeing what they shouldn’t – and stopping bad actors in the system – is done with the least privilege and zero-trust protocols.
The Principle of Least Privilege
Businesses have always managed a variety of paperwork that needs to be isolated between roles and managers. Each employee can be entrusted with certain responsibilities and access to certain data, but not all of it. This introduces the principle of least privilege. Each employee should have access only to the data, projects, and controls that they need to perform their role. Everything else should be limited to additional requests and authorization.
This can avoid accidental data leaks, undetected data theft, and damage to files from people who should not have access. Least privilege seeks to closely define the data needs of each employee role and ensure that team members are unable to do accidental or intentional harm with further access.
In order to implement the principle of least privilege, you first need a system that uses an access management system to determine individual authorization for each file or project.
The Policy of Zero Trust
Now that you’ve assigned every team and employee-specific authorization – and removed authorization to access non-job-related files – how do you maintain this precise and high level of internal data security?
This is done with a policy of zero trust. Zero-trust is a technical approach, requiring the re-checking of authorization and seeking of red flags on a regular basis. This ensures that access is never “Grandfathered in” from a previous login. Zero-trust policies often include idle time-out log-out features to prevent a new user from approaching a logged-in terminal, as well as location detection.
Zero trust protects against both hacker-stolen logins and thief-stolen devices. The policy also protects against account infiltration. A hacker who manages to operate a dummy employee account on your system will be – by default – denied access to all but the most public files and their account activity is likely to be flagged by the zero-trust checks.
What Does Least Privilege, Zero Trust, and Access Management Mean to Your Business?
There are many advantages of implementing this triple-stack of internal data security methods. The least privilege protects against mistakes and bad actors with data inside the company network. Zero trust protects from hacked accounts and network infiltration. Access management ensures that even though your data is locked down internally, each team and employee can reach exactly what they need to operate smoothly.
For more cybersecurity insights for your business, contact us today.
This article is for general information purposes only. It is not insurance, tax, legal, business, or other advice. For specific insurance questions related to you or your business, please contact our office.