As the financial and reputational costs of fraud continue to rise, it’s becoming clear that a single layer of security isn’t enough. When identity is simply verified once at login, bad actors only have to bypass this initial layer to gain access to a user’s account. Data breaches, account takeover attacks and other pitfalls follow close behind.
Article at a glance:
- What the zero-trust cybersecurity model is and why it’s effective.
- How continuous authentication contributes to the zero-trust identity framework in security.
- What are the pitfalls of traditional security measures and why are they no longer reliable in today’s digital landscape.
That’s why more and more organizations are embracing zero trust — a security framework that assumes no user or device can be trusted by default. The framework uses context-aware access control and continuous monitoring to detect fraudulent activity throughout the entirety of a user’s interaction with an online platform.
But while this capability offers significant benefits, it can be challenging to transition to a zero-trust model without prior experience. In this blog post, we’ll discuss the benefits of a zero-trust approach, the role continuous authentication plays in it, and how you can work to implement the approach in your organization.
What makes zero-trust an effective cybersecurity model?
Before discussing how to implement a zero-trust approach, we must first understand the framework more deeply — and recognize why it’s become a best practice for many cybersecurity practitioners.
Traditional security measures followed a “trust, but verify” method; a method that has been used to accommodate users who aren’t always in a single location or using a VPN. However, as businesses have moved to the cloud and created more digital touchpoints, the porous nature of this traditional approach has become far too costly to rely on. As such, the “trust, but verify” approach is largely obsolete now.
Enter zero-trust. Zero-trust identity verification provides a much stricter framework for evaluating if a consumer is genuine or if they could be bad actors. Businesses with a zero-trust approach care about which internal users have access to specific data and applications. From a customer-facing perspective, businesses aren’t just concerned about securing the log-in process, they’re worried about abnormal transactions and repeated attempts to access restricted information after a user logs in.
Continuous authentication: A necessary component of zero-trust identity
Attempting to implement a zero-trust approach by focusing solely on login authentication is no longer enough in today’s digital world. The log-in process is just one of many touchpoints a user has during an online interaction. To implement a successful zero-trust policy, businesses must embrace continuous authentication. Continuous authentication is an identity verification method that seeks to verify a user’s identity in real-time, from the beginning of their session to the end. To avoid disruption of the user experience, this verification process mostly takes place in the background, without requiring the user to input passwords or Share information that is not needed.
Instead, a continuous authentication system uses multiple streams of data to develop a profile of each user’s expected behaviors. As long as a given user behaves in the expected way, they continue their session as normal. However, if a user does something unexpected — like logging in from a new location, using a different device or moving their mouse in an unusual way — businesses have greater cause to investigate and introduce a step-up measure, such as a CAPTCHA test. By only requiring suspicious users to perform additional security actions, this method enables businesses to be less trusting without jeopardizing the user experience for the majority of users.
It can be tricky knowing how to balance these more advanced identity verification solutions with the UX of your online platform. That’s why working with an experienced, forward-thinking identity verification partner can prove valuable. They understand the nuances of traditional and emerging identity verification technologies and can help you prioritize the experience of your users throughout the process.
As businesses look for new ways to protect their users’ identities, embracing zero-trust identity solutions is an important first step. A single layer of protection isn’t the be-all, end-all of security and verification — the future of identity verification is continuous. By partnering with experts who can help guide you through this transition, your organization can safeguard its assets and reputation while providing users with a more secure and seamless experience on your platforms.