Before zero-trust security, enterprise insiders were trusted and outsiders were not. While in fact, cyber threats could come from both external and internal of organisation. The latest 2022 Cost of Insider Threats Global Report revealed that on average, impacted organisations spent USD$15.4 million annually on overall insider threat remediation and took 85 days to contain each incident.

It is no longer relevant to assume that everything behind the corporate firewall is secure. According to the report, the frequency and costs associated with insider threats have increased dramatically over the last two years across all three insider threat categories, including: careless or negligent employees/contractors, criminal or malicious insiders, and cybercriminal credential theft. 

In this blog we would discuss more about what zero trust model is and the importance of using least-privilege access in your business. 

What is Zero Trust Model? 

The Zero Trust model is a security framework that assumes no trust, regardless of whether a user is inside or outside the network perimeter. It challenges the traditional perimeter-based security approach and emphasizes continuous verification and strict access controls.  

This is a security strategy that has been profoundly introduced by big tech corporations like Microsoft for the past two years (since 2021). As cyber threats can be both external and internal, adopting least-privilege access and ensuring that only authorised individuals, devices and applications can access an organisation’s systems and data would greatly limits the risks of unauthorised access, insider threats, and malicious attacks. 

Image: Guiding Principles of Zero Trust (Microsoft) 

Elevated vs Least-Privilege Access 

Elevated privilege access and least-privilege access are concepts that define the level of permissions or privileges granted to users or accounts within a system or network. Here’s an explanation of each: 

Elevated Privilege Access: Elevated privilege access refers to a higher level of permissions or privileges granted to users or accounts beyond the standard user role. Typically, this level of access includes administrative powers or elevated rights, allowing users to perform actions that have broader system-wide implications. Users with elevated privilege access have greater control over critical settings, sensitive data, and the ability to make changes that impact the overall functioning of the system. 

Examples of elevated privilege access include: 

  • Administrative accounts with full control over a computer, network, or application. 
  • Root or superuser access in Unix-like operating systems, which provides complete control over the system. 
  • Database administrators who have elevated privileges to manage and modify database structures and data. 
  • System administrators with elevated access to configure and manage network devices and infrastructure. 

Elevated privilege access is necessary for certain roles to perform their responsibilities effectively, but it also carries higher security risks if not properly managed and protected. 

Least-Privilege Access: Least-privilege access, also known as the principle of least-privilege (POLP), is the concept of granting users or accounts the minimum level of permissions or privileges required to perform their specific tasks or job functions. With least privilege access, users only have access to the resources, systems, or data necessary for their work and no more. 

The principle of least-privilege aims to minimise the potential damage that can occur if a user’s account is compromised or misused. By limiting access rights, organizations reduce the attack surface, prevent accidental or intentional misuse of privileges, and restrict users from accessing sensitive data or critical systems that are not relevant to their roles. 

Examples of least-privilege access include: 

  • Standard user accounts with limited permissions, unable to modify system settings or install software. 
  • Role-based access control (RBAC) systems that assign specific privileges to users based on their job roles and responsibilities. 
  • File and folder permissions that restrict access to only authorized individuals or groups. 

In an environment where there are too many administrators, or elevated-privilege accounts, there is an increased risk of compromise that could range from unauthorised system modification, data loss or theft, malware propagation, to regulatory compliance or audit concerns. By integrating the principle of least privilege (POLP) to their overall cybersecurity strategy, organisations can limit the access rights of individuals to only what is necessary for their job functions, significantly strengthen their defenses and safeguard their digital assets. 

As an IT advisor, B & A Technologies believes that the proper ICT infrastructure plays an important role in helping businesses achieve their goals. Ready to step up your cybersecurity strategy? Talk with our IT Specialists today: or (07) 4602 0583. 

B & A Technologies is a Queensland-based Managed Service Provider with 70+ clients onshore and offshore. Our purpose is to bring potential to life with cutting-edge IT.