Zero trust security is a modern cyber security approach based on the premise of “never trust, always verify”. An enterprise browser can help organizations implement zero-trust principles. These include user verification, the principle of least privilege, policy enforcement, visibility, monitoring, and maintaining a good user experience. Read on about how to enforce zero trust with an enterprise browser, and discover the tools that can help in the end.

What is Zero Trust Security?

Zero trust is a cybersecurity model based on the idea that no entity, inside or outside an organization’s network, should be trusted by default. Rather, every user and device must be verified each time they attempt to access resources. This enforces strict security standards and minimizes the risk of unauthorized access and data breaches.

Zero trust addresses the limitations of the traditional perimeter-based approach, which assumes that threats primarily originate from outside the network. Therefore, this legacy approach implements  “castle-and-moat” defenses, protecting the network at the entry points, but not from within. However, with the rise of cloud services, remote work, and globalization, traditional defenses at the physical entry points became risky and unreliable, calling for a new security methodology – zero trust.

Key Principles of Zero Trust Security:

  • Never Trust, Always Verify – Every access attempt to resources and systems is verified, regardless of whether it originates from inside or outside the network. Trust is not granted based on the location or IP of the request.
  • Least Privilege Access – Users are given the minimum level of access necessary to perform their tasks. This reduces the potential damage from compromised accounts or insider threats. This is often complemented with JIT, Just-in-Time access, providing access only for the length of time required to perform the task.
  • Strong Authentication – MFA (Multi-Factor Authentication) is often used to ensure that users are who they claim to be. This adds a layer of security beyond just a username and password.
  • Continuous Monitoring – Activity is continuously monitored to detect and respond to threats in real time. This includes monitoring user behavior, network traffic, and access patterns.

Benefits of Zero Trust Security:

  • Reduced Risk of Breaches – By continuously verifying access and applying strict access controls, Zero Trust reduces the risk of unauthorized access, lateral movement, and data breaches.
  • Minimized Damage from Attacks – Even if an attacker gains access, least privilege access limits their ability to move within the network and cause widespread damage.
  • Securing All Users Including Third-Parties and BYOD – By treating each user as a potential attacker, zero trust enforces the same security measures for all users. This ensures the same level of secure access for employees on managed devices, BYOD or for third-parties and contractors.
  • Improved Visibility – Continuous monitoring provides better visibility into network activity, making it easier to detect, respond to and investigate anomalies.
  • Enhanced Compliance – Zero Trust frameworks often align with regulatory requirements, helping organizations meet compliance obligations.

Now that browsers have become a key tool for employees, it’s important to ensure they can align with the organization’s security strategy and approach. Secure enterprise browsers can help enforce zero-trust principles.

Let’s take a closer look at how integrating zero trust with secure enterprise browsers can help you better protect sensitive data and keep security robust.

Key Zero Trust Principles for Enterprise Browsers

Enterprise browsers, designed for business environments, provide a secure browsing experience by enforcing strict security policies and controls. These specialized browsers incorporate zero-trust principles to ensure secure web access and threat mitigation. 

Here are the key principles of Zero Trust applied to enterprise browsers:

1. User Authentication and Authorization

 Zero trust methods include MFA to verify user identities, going beyond traditional passwords. This helps limit access and implement the principle of least privilege. Enterprise browsers support zero-trust security through user authentication and authorization mechanisms. Enterprise browsers act as an additional authentication layer, allowing for conditional access to organizational SaaS and web apps only via the protected browser.

2. Enforcing Security Policies

Zero trust is based on the premise that attackers might be inside the network. Enterprise browsers enforce security policies that limit attackers’ abilities to compromise systems from the inside and protect against internal threats – malicious or inadvertent.

Administrators can configure and enforce security policies that restrict access to specific external websites, prevent downloading files, block malicious extensions, or block certain browser features. In addition, data protection policies can be configured to prevent copy-paste operations, block screen captures, and ensure secure data transmission through encrypted connections. This helps prevent phishing, data exfiltration, and other malicious activities.

Policies can be tailored to different user groups based on their roles and access levels, to enforce the principle of least privilege and to secure employees working from the office, remote employees, BYOD policies, third parties, and more.

3. Continuous Monitoring and Anomaly Detection

Zero trust relies on monitoring and visibility to prevent malicious activities. Enterprise browsers continuously monitor web traffic and user activities in real time. They use ML algorithms to identify and block malicious websites, phishing attempts, and other online threats. In addition, these browsers maintain detailed logs of user activities, including websites visited, files downloaded, and security incidents. This information can be used for real-time prevention, for improving security measures, and to address compliance needs.

4. Maintaining a Good User Experience

One of the challenges of implementing zero trust is the user experience. Strict access controls and continuous verification can impact user experience, potentially leading to resistance from users. An enterprise browser, delivered as a browser extension, ensures minimal impact on the user experience, since the extension is implemented on the browser the employee is already using, without disrupting their workflows. As a result, zero trust principles are enforced without impacting the employee.

How Zero Trust Security and Enterprise Browsers Work Together

Enterprise browsers incorporate Zero Trust principles and requirements such as supporting MFA, stringent security policies, continuous monitoring, and a user-friendly implementation. These specialized browser security solutions act as an extra layer of authentication, ensuring access to sensitive data is secure and controlled. They enforce security policies that prevent data exfiltration and monitor user activities to detect threats in real time. All while ensuring minimal impact on the user experience.

By integrating these robust security measures while maintaining a seamless user experience, enterprise browsers help organizations uphold zero-trust principles and support a zero-trust architecture, thus significantly reducing the risk of breaches and enhancing overall cybersecurity.

LayerX is an enterprise browser extension that helps organizations enhance their security posture and realize zero-trust security principles.