Zero Trust is revered among most cybersecurity experts as the ultimate in data and system security. The strategy is designed to prevent cybercriminals from entering systems and stealing data in the worst-case scenario. The security concept is simple: ‘Trust nobody either inside or outside your corporate network.’ Attackers inside the network, such as a malware sleeper cell or an attacker spying on the company, must be excluded. This requires each data access to be checked and authorised. However, this can often become one security step too far for users because they must, in theory, be authenticated again each time they log in or access an application. The Zero Friction concept promises a seamless user experience. However, this is often in conflict with Zero Trust. To discover why you don't have to choose between security and user-friendliness and why Zero Friction is the future of Zero Trust, read our latest blog post.
Zero Trust: definition and measures
The Zero Trust model is based on the assumption that nobody in a corporate network can be trusted – neither a user nor a device or an application. Therefore, every internal or external request to access data, for instance, is always checked and authorised because malware or hackers may already be in the system. Security experts recommend different components and approaches for protecting data.
This means that companies should define in detail which of their data, applications and resources are most relevant to their daily operations, who should be able to access them, and how. If the data and its paths are categorised, it is advisable to ascertain the location of this data. In this way, you can also determine after an attack whether a hacker has merely stolen data about the lunch menu in the canteen or whether the data is personal and, therefore, of a sensitive nature. Vulnerabilities in the IT security architecture can also be uncovered in the same way.
During this process, rules are also established to define the conditions under which data can be exchanged. For example, an entity must successfully authenticate itself using multi-step authentication before it is allowed to access specific data or applications.
These are just some of the measures of a Zero Trust strategy that companies should observe to protect their data and applications.
Zero Friction: putting the user experience first
Zero Friction describes a concept whose primary objective is to guarantee a seamless user experience for every user. It is designed to minimize or eliminate sticking points within the customer journey, such as the process of logging into a system.
It all starts with the user interfaces with which the user comes into contact. These should be intuitively designed to allow the customer to get their bearings quickly. Other features that should be mentioned are quick loading times for a website, automated processes such as prefilled forms or the seamless integration of services and applications.
However, the registration procedure also plays a key role. This should be as simple as possible and be supported by a single sign-on solution (SSO), for example, so that a user does not have to log in separately for each application.
Zero Trust and Zero Friction – the same side of the coin
Zero Friction authentication methods can help companies protect access to sensitive data without impairing the user experience. This makes it possible to implement multi-factor authentication (MFA) that queries multiple authentication factors to validate the identity of a user. This ensures a very high level of security. The possibilities of biometric authentication can be very helpful when it comes to streamlining the login process. A fingerprint, facial recognition or iris scan authenticates the user. As a result, they don’t have to remember long and complex passwords, which are generally considered to be insecure, and can log in without a password.
Another method that makes life easier for users is continuous authentication, which ensures that the user does not have to log in repeatedly during a session. The system continuously checks the identity of the user based on location information, the device IP and behaviour patterns. If significant discrepancies are detected, the user can then be requested to authenticate themselves again.
The authentication methods mentioned here implement security measures that make them easy and transparent to handle.
Hand in hand: data security and a seamless user experience
A company that offers its customers a seamless customer experience should not do so at the expense of security. Conversely, if too many (and often unnecessary) security measures are implemented, customers will become overwhelmed and frustrated, which can result in the company taking a financial hit. A balance must always be struck between these two priorities. This is the only way to guarantee the highest security standards as well as a positive customer experience.