How adaptive trust makes security efficient

Zero trust is a comprehensive security framework that requires everyone—and every service account—to authenticate identity before entering the corporate network. Every app and every device, as well as all the data they contain, must also be verified for each session.

Considering the multitude of people, devices, and apps it takes to make today’s businesses hum, you might think zero trust requires extensive management.

And you would be right. But what makes this Herculean undertaking not only possible, but easy to manage is the next evolution which I like to refer to as adaptive trust.

Making sense of big data

Organizations have been collecting data for years, many collect so much that they don’t know what to do with it. Analyzing behavioral data through the lens of artificial intelligence enables companies to put it to good use.

Adaptive trust begins by collecting data across the enterprise about user activities – who does what and when, and which apps and data they use to accomplish their tasks. Then algorithms are trained on the information to discern typical patterns, creating alerts when an activity is outside of what has been established as a normal baseline.

For example, data patterns may show that an employee uses their laptop in Chicago during business hours. But one day they log in from Kyiv at 1 a.m. Noticing the anomaly, the adaptive system follows a pre-set company rule, requiring the employee to do a facial recognition scan. It turns out the employee is indeed in Kyiv, at a business meeting in Kyiv, so they meet the criteria and they continue to work without further disruption.

Other companies may have different pre-set rules, perhaps requesting verification of the user’s status from their manager or alerting the security team and shutting off access until the situation is sorted out. The point is, the adaptive trust system recognizes anomalies and takes action in accordance with company policy—with little or no human intervention involved.

Harnessing machine power

Automation provides a critical advantage in today’s fast-moving IT world, where companies struggle to find workers with the skills they need. Eighty-one percent of North American IT departments are experiencing a skills gap, a study by IT company Global Knowledge found. And every year, the gap gets wider.

As threats grow more sophisticated and cloud-based apps expand the surface of attack—often offering scant protection—the demand for cybersecurity skills is particularly acute.

By leveraging AI and machine learning algorithms to discover and respond to security threats, companies can fill the cybersecurity skills gap without hiring an army of highly skilled, hard-to-find human experts.

Fast learners

An automated, AI-based adaptive trust system can scan millions of data points at a time, and it doesn’t sleep, get tired, or charge overtime. It notices not only that the above employee works from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in Chicago, but that they open an app every day around 10 a.m. and download about the same amount of information when they use it.

Biometric authentication factors add even more to the knowledge base, recognizing voice, fingerprints, and device characteristics. If any of the ID or work pattern metrics look abnormal, an alert is triggered in accordance with the company’s security policy.

Adaptive trust doesn’t confine itself to people – it can monitor apps, devices, and data, too. By tracking patterns of data transfers between applications, it creates user profiles that can help stop a breach.

If a hacker is engaged in a spoofing campaign – redirecting users to a scam website – the system immediately spots a difference in the metadata that is generated and alerts the security team to the problem.

If an attacker inserts malware into a site to harvest personal data during online transactions, the system notices a slight delay after users click “Submit,” – a subtle change human workers likely wouldn’t catch, even if they had time to monitor for it.

Whether it’s analyzing human behavior or mechanical processes, an adaptive AI system finds problems faster, stopping breaches in their tracks or limiting the harm they can cause. Organizations that don’t have a security system incorporating AI, analytics, and automated incident response experience data breach costs 95 percent higher than those that do, according to the 2019 Ponemon Institute Cost of a Data Breach study.

In addition to saving organizations time and money and preventing critical data loss, adaptive trust allows employees to be more productive. Once it understands their work habits, it doesn’t have to bug them as much for additional authorizations. The more it learns, the smoother the process becomes.

As more people, apps, and devices connect to the enterprise, outpacing IT’s ability to keep up, organizations need to look beyond traditional security platforms. For obtaining optimal protection, minimal intrusion, and maximum efficiency, the best solution is adaptive trust.

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