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In today’s digital workplace, user-friendly designs, freewheeling collaboration software, and social media lead to an explosion in the ways that employees work. But this digitalization also means that cyber threats are now as accessible as they are widespread. With the advent of new technologies comes new risks—and that’s particularly true with regard to trust. Your employees can no longer trust what they see or hear from other colleagues. Instead, they need to be able to trust everyone around them. You need to have Zero Trust in order to build it.
What Is Zero Trust?
Zero Trust is an organizational philosophy that believes in a fundamentally new way of conducting business. In this model, every person within the organization should be viewed as untrustworthy. The idea is to create a culture in which employees are expected to assume that anything and everything they do could be used against them.
The Zero Trust model is designed to help organizations combat cyber threats through collaboration. It keeps people honest by ensuring that collaboration doesn’t have the unintended consequences of opening up avenues for malicious actors to manipulate their colleagues. Additionally, it encourages collaboration among all employees without making judgments about who deserves trust and who does not.
Different Types of Zero Trust
There are three different types of Zero Trust:
1. Zero Trust in Traditional Systems: This type of mindset allows employees to assume that the people they interact with are who they say they are and that they have a valid need for what they’re doing. This is the most common type of Zero Trust, but it also can be viewed as vulnerable. It relies on people being honest and having good intentions, which can be difficult to guarantee in today’s digital world.
2. Zero Trust in Technology: This type of mindset requires your employees to trust technology to do its job without any human intervention or judgment. You must trust that your systems will support you without fail, even when there are cybersecurity threats looming overhead. It’s an effortless kind of trust because it doesn’t put any demands on users to rely on others—it simply asks them to rely on the technologies you provide instead.
3. Zero Trust in People: This type of mindset is one that requires employees not only to trust the technology, but also other humans around them if needed. Every decision made by your business depends on whether you have full confidence in your team members—and this type of mentality is challenging because it means trusting everyone at all times and trusting no one some other time (both equally hard).
The Importance of Small Actions To Foster Trust
Building trust in your organization is a hugely important factor. If you’re looking to have your employees work in a safe, productive environment, then it’s absolutely essential to instill some level of trust into the workplace. Only when you build trust can you ensure the health and productivity of your business.
One of the most important steps you can take is to identify what Zero Trust looks like in your company. You don’t need to know every detail, but you should have an idea of the necessary components so that you are able to focus on building those components into your company.
If you want to foster trust in your organization, you need to start small. You can’t suddenly demand that all employees be loyal when they are not yet ready. Instead, take small steps over time that slowly build trust in your team to ensure a safe environment. It could be as simple as having a policy that says no sensitive data should be left in emails or documents that aren’t encrypted.
Also, you definitely want to start encouraging your people to use two-factor authentication (2FA) when they log into their computers or devices with their personal accounts. This doesn’t mean that your entire workforce has to be using 2FA right away, but it does begin to restructure your infrastructure so that you can always rely on this technology for added security in the event that something goes wrong with a computer or device.
Guide Your Team Toward Zero Trust
In order to reach Zero Trust, you need to guide your team toward it. Trust is a two-way street. In order to trust someone else, you need to believe that they’re not going to do anything damaging or untoward with your data. You need to believe that they have your best interests at heart, and that they will protect the company’s assets and information.
Unfortunately, trust is hard to gain and easy to lose. To keep it in place, you need both prevention and punishment strategies. You can establish trust internally by training employees on how data is accessed and stored in your organization. You can also establish trust externally by implementing effective policies for managing cyber threats within the company—like digital forensics software or even an outside firm—and then protecting those tools from others who may steal them or use them against the company. Your employees must know what their rights are concerning access to company assets and information, as well as how they should go about reporting a security problem if one occurs.
Collaboration With Zero Trust
When it comes to security, you can never underestimate the importance of transparency and understanding—particularly with regard to user-friendly design and collaboration software like Skype, Slack, or Google Drive. Collaboration software is a great way to collaborate with others in many ways—but it can also be very dangerous if you don’t understand what it’s doing behind the scenes.
For example, collaboration software can enable file sharing without any safeguards at all—which means that there could be a file on your network that contains sensitive information that someone else wants to steal. It would be incredibly easy for them to do so because there are no passwords or complicated security measures involved. If collaboration software includes these types of settings, then the only thing preventing a cyberattack is Zero Trust.
When you adopt the Zero Trust model in your organization, it means that you’ve implemented a system of controls and safeguards to ensure the safety of your company. As leadership in your organization, it’s your role to figure out what that entails. Start by making small changes and building trust amongst your employees. Guide them toward best practices until you feel comfortable enough to make permanent changes to your security infrastructure. Whatever it takes, you need to start building a culture of security and trustworthiness within your company now so it doesn’t catch up with you down the road when something happens.