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How to Create a Zero-Trust Security Model with Google Workspace

Lock the files. Secure the perimeter. Trust no one.

It’s not a line from the latest action movie, nor is it as dramatic as it sounds — those are the real steps companies are taking under zero-trust security models. As traditional VPNs fall out of favor due to their security limitations, zero-trust security models are becoming an increasingly popular strategy to ensure files are safe no matter where employees are working. According to a 2021 Statista survey of cybersecurity professionals, approximately 72% of respondents have either already adopted a zero-trust security model or have plans to adopt one in the future.

How to Create a Zero-Trust Security Model with Google Workspace

Google Cloud also employs a proven and unified zero-trust security model through BeyondCorp — which, when paired with Google Workspace, delivers best-in-class security for email, meetings, messages, and documents with Google’s Work Safer program.

Whether your organization has a large remote workforce or you’re a CISO looking for the latest and greatest wisdom on how to move from a VPN, there’s a bevy of benefits when it comes to creating a zero-trust security model. Below, we’ll take a look at the major advantages of zero trust and BeyondCorp — and learn how Google Workspace makes it possible.

The Difference Between Traditional VPNs and Zero-Trust Security Models

Historically, companies have invested much of their time, effort, and money into securing their “perimeter,” which ensured the safety of their network’s assets. Traditional technologies like VPNs extended that perimeter to those who may be working outside of the office.

But as cloud adoption soars and workplaces make remote work options a permanent fixture, the two things that traditional security has attempted to secure — employees and data — no longer live on the network or in an office. Employees operate in a hybrid model, and their data lives in the cloud in SaaS solutions. To accommodate this shift, zero-trust models protect your company’s data based on who you are, and not where you are.

As a Google Cloud blog post aptly puts it: 

At the core of a zero-trust approach is the idea that implicit trust in any single component of a complex, interconnected system can create significant security risks.” 

Therefore, with a zero-trust model, users are challenged at each application and each step to verify that they meet the criteria to receive access. For example, a user might have access to read a specific document but not be able to download or print that document, providing a granularity that creates a significant uplift in workplace security due to the many layers of verification added to each application — and each activity within the application.

From a user experience perspective, zero trust also presents benefits. You can likely relate to the struggle of wanting to pop onto your laptop to get work done at the airport, only to be stonewalled by VPN performance issues. Zero trust doesn’t force users onto a company network; instead, it finds ways to secure whatever internet you’re using to access company files and applications.  

BeyondCorp’s Leading Zero-Trust Security Option

Google, in particular, has a long history with zero trust, starting with its work over the past decade with BeyondCorp to secure its own network and demonstrate one of the largest implementations of the zero-trust security model, encompassing 100K+ Google employees. The core capabilities of BeyondCorp’s model include:

  • allowing single sign-on (SSO),
  • providing users with independence over their access control policies,
  • requiring authentication and authorization at both the user and device level,
  • and, in general, relies on three core principles:
    • Access to services must not be determined by the network from which you connect.
    • Access to services is granted based on contextual factors from the user and their device.
    • Access to services must be authenticated, authorized, and encrypted.

Because BeyondCorp is enabled through Google’s network, it’s easy for any organization using Google Workspace to benefit from the zero-trust platform while working from any location without needing a traditional VPN in place. Some of the top benefits of the model include: 

  1. Secure Corporate and Frontline Workers: BeyondCorp Enterprise and Chrome Enterprise Upgrade validate user logins, device compliance, and access to data.
  2. Comprehensive Zero-Trust Security and Monitoring: Monitor events and marry data with other security telemetry and systems.
  3. All-Encompassing Security and Endpoint Protection: Check for malware, device OS, monitor web traffic, and more.

The Starting Point for Zero-Trust Security in Your Organization

Once you decide to employ a zero-trust model, the biggest question for IT professionals is “where do I start?” As the zero-trust security model adoption reaches an inflection point, it seems everyone has an opinion of what zero-trust security is, but few organizations know what it would actually mean for their organization — or how to get started. 

At Maven Wave, we can help translate your company’s specific needs into a tailored zero-trust security solution to ensure your employees are protected in your specific use cases. Making the change to a zero-trust model can be intimidating, but as a first step, companies can start by thinking about their areas of vulnerability and contacting the experts at Maven Wave to learn more about how we can assist with your transition from a traditional VPN.

For more information on setting up a zero-trust security model, join experts from Google and Maven Wave for our joint webinar “How Google Workspace Enables Enterprises to Work Safer” where we’ll discuss everything you need to know about keeping your employees’ data safe with BeyondCorp and Google Workspace.


About the Author

Kylie McKee
Kylie McKee is a Content Marketing Strategist at Maven Wave with more than eight years of tech industry experience and five years of content marketing experience. Prior to joining the Maven Wave team, Kylie worked as a Content Marketing Specialist for WebPT, Inc. and earned an Associate in Applied Science in Motion Picture, Television, and New Media Production with a CCL in Screenwriting from Scottsdale Community College.
April 25th, 2022

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