1,862. That’s the number of data breaches that were perpetrated in 2021. The figure represents a 68% increase when compared to the previous year.
Nearly $7 billion. That staggering figure represents personal losses that could be attributed to internet crimes in 2021. While some of these crimes were perpetrated against individuals, many others targeted businesses and their abundance of valuable data.
What do these and similar cyber crime statistics have in common? First, they all make a case for implementing zero trust architecture, such as Google’s dynamic solution, BeyondCorp.
The challenge is this: historically, implementations of BeyondCorp — even those done in the name of cybersecurity — are tedious, time-consuming and potentially disruptive to a company’s everyday operations.
Therefore, the main question is, “how can an organization seamlessly implement BeyondCorp’s zero trust architecture to optimize cybersecurity?”
Our team has addressed this very question in the article that follows. In it, our experts demonstrate how your organization can work safer and begin leveraging the latest in zero trust architecture while minimizing or circumventing many implementation roadblocks.
Why Zero Trust?
In order to achieve your cybersecurity goals and preserve your business-critical data, you must ensure that your architecture is robust and protected by the latest cybersecurity technology.
Additionally, you must account for another key variable — the human element. Even the most dynamic cybersecurity solutions could be undermined by human error, such as an employee being duped by a phishing email and giving up their password to a hacker.
For years, human error has been the most challenging variable to control. One reason for this is that traditional IT architectures trust authorized users.
Therefore, these users are subjected to far less stringent verification, which means that bad actors who have obtained an employee’s credentials have a relatively easy time perpetrating your network.
Zero trust solutions like BeyondCorp seek to alleviate this vulnerability by treating all users with distrust. The technology constantly validates the user’s credentials throughout the digital interaction.
The following analogy about physical premises security sums up the zero trust methodology nicely:
Let’s say that a vendor arrives at your business. Like most organizations, your company probably requires vendors to check in at either a receiving entrance or the front desk, depending on your facility's size and available resources.
After the vendor checks in, are they given free rein to browse your file room, visit the employee lounge or wander around the C-suite? We would certainly hope not.
Zero trust applies this same principle to employees and others who access your network. Instead of allowing employees to freely navigate your network after they have made it past the “front desk," zero trust architecture will continuously validate their credentials for the duration of their digital interaction.
What Is BeyondCorp?
BeyondCorp is Google’s version of zero trust cybersecurity architecture. The technology eliminates the need for a standard virtual private network solution and applies access controls to users, not the network’s “perimeter.”
Existing Google Workspace users can leverage access control tools. These tools can be used to limit access to web applications, APIs, the Google Cloud console and various SSH/RDP/TCP ports.
However, baseline Google Workspace solutions have no proactive data protection features. Furthermore, the standard platform offers minimal access to advanced settings and policy customization features. But BeyondCorp’s various frameworks expand on the baseline capabilities of Google Workspace while adding a wealth of new features. This provides users with fine-grained access control, along with fast and scalable deployment.
Google initially designed the BeyondCorp platform for Google staff. However, the company made this dynamic solution available to businesses and individual users once the company recognized its efficacy.
While your network already has cybersecurity resources in place, these resources cannot effectively protect your data when users are accessing your data remotely.
Traditionally, remote workers would use VPNs to create a secure connection to your network. Unfortunately, although VPNs offer some level of protection, they do not effectively address several key vulnerabilities.
Conversely, BeyondCorp offers superior data protection, even if your employees work remotely. As remote work becomes a mainstay of many organizations’ business models, providing employees with a means of securely accessing data from anywhere is more important than ever before.
BeyondCorp is available in two different tiers. The less robust option is known as BeyondCorp Enterprise Essentials. The second solution is BeyondCorp Enterprise.
While Essentials is not on par with the full Enterprise solution, the former still represents a significant upgrade from the standard Google Workspace. The biggest improvements come in the form of advanced sandboxing capabilities, data loss prevention tools and other threat prevention solutions.
BeyondCorp Enterprise provides users with a comprehensive array of access control capabilities. Enterprises can use these capabilities to address key access-related vulnerabilities in order to significantly enhance cybersecurity. It also enhances security across non-Google Cloud web applications, such as Dropbox.
To learn more about Google's zero trust solutions, check out this article.
How to Ensure a Smooth Transition Process
If your organization is ready to adopt BeyondCorp as part of its digital transformation journey, you should do the following to prepare for the process:
Understand the Challenges You Are Facing
The BeyondCorp infrastructure will significantly increase the efficacy of your cybersecurity program. First, however, you must understand the challenges you will face during the path to superior network cybersecurity.
Some of the most notable hurdles you must navigate as you implement a zero trust architecture include the following:
- Implementing BeyondCorp has a company-wide impact
- The process takes time
- Effective implementations of BeyondCorp require constant communication
- A deployment requires alternating your entire tech stack
A more comprehensive list of challenges, as well as what tactics organizations use to overcome them, can be found in this Google research piece.
Obtain Top-Down Buy-In
Since the implementation of BeyondCorp is a process that will undoubtedly impact teams across your entire organization, you must obtain top-down buy-in. Therefore, before planning your BeyondCorp zero trust implementation process, ensure that your staff understands the importance of such a transition.
Consider crafting custom messages for each department or team when creating communications to relay this information. This approach will allow you to highlight how the move will benefit each group specifically.
Since the implementation of BeyondCorp will be a multi-stage, long-term project, everyone must be committed to seeing it through.
During this phase, gather feedback from department managers and experienced employees. They may have viewed the challenge from a perspective you had not considered. As a result, they can provide valuable insights that could further streamline the implementation of BeyondCorp.
Plan, Plan, Plan
After sufficiently communicating the benefits of the BeyondCrop zero trust architecture implementation to your staff, it is time to begin the planning process. Although it's impossible to plan for every hurdle, you can still plan for some of the more common things you might encounter.
Additionally, make sure to segment the implementation of BeyondCorp into digestible stage-outs. This setup will help you and your staff focus on specific objectives instead of becoming overwhelmed by the project's sheer size.
Divide and Conquer
Even if you break your project into smaller goals, each of them might still seem intimidating or difficult to overcome. Therefore, you should set several subgoals to avoid disrupting any mission-critical processes.
The divide and conquer approach will help you avoid potentially costly disruptions and allow you to keep the implementation of BeyondCorp on track for a timely completion.
Upgrade Network Access Control
Before you can implement BeyondCorp, you will need to update your authentication protocols to a more modern framework. One of the preferred standards for improving access control capabilities is 802.1x. This set of protocols is an Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) standard.
The 802.1x IEEE certificates must be installed on all devices across the network. While deploying new certificates seems straightforward, it can be labor and time intensive — especially if your network includes many devices.
While implementing BeyondCorp, remember that patience is key. Do not rush through the process if you believe you have addressed the core challenges you will encounter in your plan. Doing so can make you more susceptible to disruptions and, ultimately, delay the completion of your implementation of BeyondCorp.
Once you are ready to start the next step in your implementation strategy, take time to reassess your current positioning. Then, ensure that all resources are in place to complete that next step.
For instance, if you are preparing to help a group of users start the process of implementing BeyondCorp, ensure you have the support resources available to assist them with any issues that may arise.
Have a Group Approach
The most pragmatic approach to your BeyondCorp rollout seems to be the group-by-group approach.
As the name implies, this approach involves transitioning staff to the new framework based on the organizational group or department they are already in. For example, if a department is particularly large, you could segment the team into two or more groups to make the process more manageable.
When deciding which groups to focus on when starting the implementation process, you can use one of two strategies. The first option involves prioritizing your mission-critical teams, as these groups likely handle the most valuable data. Alternatively, you could start with less critical teams to have time to work out any hiccups in your strategy of implementing BeyondCorp.
Even when extensively planning your implementation of the BeyondCorp zero trust framework, you are bound to be faced with a few challenges. The key to overcoming them is to scale the support you offer your staff.
In preparation for each group implementation of BeyondCorp, ensure that you are increasing the number of support resources that you have in place. This work may mean outsourcing to a third-party provider, reassigning some of your existing IT staff, or some combination thereof.
The Most Important Step: Choosing a White-Glove Partner
As is evidenced by the series of steps outlined above, the implementation of a zero trust architecture like BeyondCorp is complex. Although the aforementioned tactics will certainly help you make the entire process more seamless, achieving your cybersecurity goals will still take time.
Suppose you want to optimize your time to value and streamline the process. In that case, your organization needs to partner with a premier services provider specializing in BeyondCorp and Google Workspace implementation and deployments.
Suitebriar has the tools, resources and expertise necessary to assist clients in every stage of their cloud deployment journey.
Whether you are starting the planning process, have already started the implementation of BeyondCorp but would like additional support, or need assistance optimizing your use of Google Cloud solutions, our professional team can accommodate you. Contact us through this form or reach out to us by phone, email or our client portal.