When it comes to cyber security, one of the biggest buzzwords circulating the market is “Zero Trust.”

Zero Trust is a principle that starts from an assumption that nothing can be trusted — be it users or devices — and blocks them from network access until they can prove themselves trustworthy through verification, authentication, or other means. What’s more, these devices and users must continue to prove themselves trustworthy throughout their network life.

Put another way by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), “Zero Trust is the term for an evolving set of cyber security paradigms that move defenses from static, network-based perimeters to focus on users, assets, and resources. Zero Trust assumes there is no implicit trust granted to assets or user accounts based solely on their physical or network location.”

In taking this approach, Zero Trust aims to help SMBs and other businesses better secure themselves from the drastic increase in cyber threats worldwide. This is more important than ever, especially as cybercrime is estimated to have cost $6 trillion in 2021, up from half that sum in 2015, and remote work continues to complete the landscape of devices and users in the workplace.

Zero Trust has been picking up steam as a concept in the market. As one measure of this, research firm Markets and Markets estimates that the global Zero Trust security market will grow from $19.6 billion in 2020 to $51.6 billion in 2026, an increase of 163 percent. Additionally, the U.S. federal government has also moved to embrace Zero Trust. The Office of Management and Budget released a memorandum mandating a federal Zero Trust architecture strategy and that agencies work to meet specific standards.

For SMBs, several steps can be taken to move toward a Zero Trust environment. First, IT teams and security leaders should ensure comprehensive visibility across the network into what devices and users are connecting. Second, they should look at the context of those connections and their level of access. In some cases, this can mean implementing identity and access management tools, multi-factor authentication, single-sign-on, and more.

From there, an SMB can take steps to control how those users and devices are accessing the network. This can include leveraging VPNs or implementing least privilege access policies to the network. Finally, the SMB can advance its posture with segmentation or micro-segmentation technologies, which help limit the access that devices and users have within the network under the principles of Zero Trust.

These are just a few of the principles an SMB can move toward when implementing Zero Trust. While Zero Trust may feel like an industry buzzword, it’s a growing, proven approach toward limiting cyber security risk. For that reason, it’s worth every SMB taking the time to understand how it can apply to their organization and if it can help improve their overall cyber security posture.