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Zero Trust vs. Least Privileged Access

Published on Aug 01 2022

Zero Trust VS Least privilege accessAs the rate of cybercrime is increasing, cyber security remains at the forefront for many businesses. To stay ahead of the cybercriminals, companies are changing their cybersecurity strategies and employ some cybersecurity measures, such as Zero Trust, Least Privilege Access. 

“Zero Trust” and “Least Privilege Access” sound so similar that they can easily be confused for one another. But is there a difference between the two terms? 

The answer is Yes. 

If yes, then what is Zero Trust, and how does it compare with Least Privilege Access? What are the advantages and disadvantages of both cybersecurity measures? Which is preferable between Zero Trust and Least Privilege Access?  

What is Zero Trust?

As the name implies, no one is trusted without adequate verification. Zero Trust ensures that everyone must be verified before granting access by eradicating the idea of trust in its architecture. Aside from verification, there must be proper authentication every time a user wants to access a system, irrespective of their position in an organization Zero Trust network access utilizes multiple-factor authentication to verify users. If you are logging into a Zero Trust protected system, you may be required to provide a password and a One Time Password (OTP) or text code via SMS to your phone number. 


Zero Trust authentication may also involve swiping your keycard and providing a password. Zero Trust may use credential vaulting to protect systems and networks. With credential vaulting, password leaks can be avoided because you will not be able to know the password that was generated for you.  

> What Is Zero Trust And How To Implement It?

What you should know about Least Privilege Access 

While Zero Trust restricts everyone, Least Privilege Access limits its restriction to a select few that needs access to do their job. To better explain this concept, let’s imagine you have a master key that allows you to open any door you choose. Sounds great, right? But not so fast because your master key has been restricted to opening a specific door that houses your belongings.  

It does not sound great again, right? Anyway, that is precisely what Least Privilege Access is all about. Organizations use it to create role-based access for staff. For example, a receptionist in a hospital should not have access to patients' case files in the ICU.  

Similarities and differences between least privilege access and zero trust? 

You may be familiar with both cyber security terms. Both let us compare them to see their similarities and differences.  

Similarities 

  1. One primary similarity between Least Privilege Access and Zero Trust is the intent of developing both cyber security technology. They were designed to protect access points and control access to systems.
  2. They were also designed to minimize risk or cybersecurity breaches to systems using trust removal or access limitation strategy

Differences 

  1. Zero Trust uses the "trust no one" concept and sees every user as a potential threat, hence the need for verification and authentication of all users. Least Privilege Access gives some users the benefit of the doubt but restricts their access to locations that concern their job or responsibility. 
  2. Zero Trust removes internal and external threats using credential vaulting and multi-factor authentication techniques. Least Privilege Access is excellent at reducing breaches if it occurs, as the hacker may not be able to gain access to other systems. Least privilege access prevents the leak from spreading to other access points by blocking access to those points.  

Pros and Cons of using zero trust and least privilege access 

Zero Trust Advantages 

  • It offers less vulnerability by preventing both internal and external threats.
  • It guarantees increased data protection by using hashed or encrypted message transmission and automated backups.
  • It provides adequate security for your files by reducing risk or vulnerability.

> Why Companies Are Moving To A Zero Trust Model

Zero Trust Challenges 

  • Setting up the system requires time and effort.
  • Managing and monitoring many devices and users can be difficult.
  • Configuring data requires care and the highest security standard 

Least Privilege Advantages 

  • It minimizes the damage caused by cyberattacks.
  • Limiting user access reduces human error and increases system stability. 
  • It reduces the propagation of malware since a compromised user cannot access other locations.
  • It improves data security by limiting access to classified information outside a user’s scope.

Challenges of Least Privilege Access 

  • Using some legacy applications with specific user accounts may be difficult
  • Too many restrictions may become a problem if not managed properly.

Which is better between least privilege access and zero trust 

Both measures are highly efficient in providing adequate security for your systems. You can follow the least privilege access rules and ensure Zero Trust technology is in place to reduce the risk of cyber-attacks on your systems. 

Conclusion 

Cybercrime is increasing, and cybercriminals are finding new ways to attack companies and steal sensitive data. Improving your organization’s cyber security measures should be paramount in minimizing the risk of cyber-attacks. 

 

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