Zero trust is a security model that requires all connections to be authenticated, authorized, and continuously validated for their configuration and posture. Its core principles include robust and adaptive authentication and granular visibility to reduce the risk of insider threats. Today’s dynamic enterprise environment, increased cloud adoption, and hybrid work require a new approach to cybersecurity. Implementing a zero-trust strategy helps organizations achieve a frictionless user experience, protect against advanced threats, and meet regulatory compliance demands.
Zero trust network access adopters seek to eliminate direct access from any source to applications and network resources, establish granular access control, and gain visibility into user behavior and activity. To do so, they must deploy security controls based on identity, context, and the principle of least privilege. This is a significant shift from legacy and third-party frameworks and infrastructure designed around implicit trust. A Zero Trust architecture is a foundation for secure connectivity, but more is needed. The architecture should also include well-managed identity systems. These will be used to identify the assets that users need access to and the context they are operating in, which are then used as inputs into a policy engine for access decisions. In the past, many attackers have successfully leveraged overly permissioned service accounts. To combat this, the principle of least privilege requires that all credentials (including those for non-human accounts such as service accounts) are given only the minimum connection privilege needed to perform their tasks. Then, if there are any changes in behavior or a threat indicator, those are quickly escalated to the security team for investigation. To support Zero Trust, organizations need technologies that address various challenges, including micro-segmentation, software-defined perimeter, and identity-aware proxies. In addition, they must have a way to monitor for credential exposure on the dark web and provide multi-factor authentication, especially with passwords.
Zero trust is a framework for securing infrastructure and data to meet the modern challenges of digital transformation, hybrid work, ransomware attacks, and other threats. It offers a better solution than legacy perimeter-based security architectures by applying the “never trust, always verify” principle to protect identities, devices, and applications. The framework is based on micro-segmentation, which allows for a most miniature privilege network model that limits the ability of attackers to move across networks and spread damage by enforcing granular access policies. Adaptive authentication also strengthens password security and protects against phishing, social engineering, and other attack vectors. It can help reduce the number of compromised credentials and lower the risk of those credentials ending up on the dark web. Building a Zero Trust deployment can be challenging because it requires an organizational change that disrupts business-as-usual and can take some time to mature and achieve the benefits. Before committing to it, it’s essential to consider how the project will impact users and operations. Once a Zero Trust framework is in place, it’s essential to monitor and manage the environment to identify any anomalies continually. This will help organizations spot and respond to attacks quickly. Organizations can also improve their cybersecurity posture by ensuring that all access is encrypted from end to end, which makes it difficult for adversaries to get sensitive information.
A zero-trust architecture combines many layers of security to eliminate implicit trust. It includes a robust identity framework, endpoint and network security, and a policy engine that applies continuous risk-based authentication. This approach enables organizations to identify and categorize users, their devices, applications, and data assets. It also enables them to use advanced capabilities like dynamic access control, granular security policies, and continuous monitoring. A successful Zero Trust architecture will enable businesses to secure their cloud, on-premises, and BYOD assets without compromising productivity. It will allow them to secure sensitive and confidential data, including sensitive information like financials and client records. In addition, it will enable them to limit the “blast radius” of a breach and ensure that sensitive data never leaves the network by using technologies like end-to-end encryption and network visibility. Implementing a Zero Trust network will require resources beyond the initial project development phase, such as ongoing maintenance and monitoring. Your platform must support the identity and access management (IAM) capabilities that make up this architecture and handle any new systems or applications you may need to add to your network. It must also support micro-segmentation and a security model that can adapt and evolve with your business.
Zero Trust enables organizations to take a more granular approach to secure their applications and users, improving productivity while meeting security standards. However, implementing a Zero Trust architecture can be daunting, especially when managing multiple technologies like firewalls, encryption network segmentation, and micro-segmentation. For example, a Zero Trust platform must also be capable of collecting, aggregating, and analyzing tens (if not terabytes) of log data per day to detect and respond to threats quickly. However, traditional logging solutions need help with scale and the ability to identify anomalies at such high volumes. To overcome these challenges, new technology is leveraging AI to analyze and correlate logs, providing hyper-accurate detections that allow you to reduce the blast radius from attackers once inside your organization. Zero trust requires continuous verification of access to your network, systems, and services and a strict policy on what credentials can be used to connect to them. Service accounts, for example, should only be allowed to connect to a specific system with known behavior and limited privileges. This prevents attackers from moving laterally across the network and accessing sensitive information. Many companies implement Zero Trust over time, taking a piecemeal approach that can result in security gaps and a complex transition process. To overcome these challenges, companies can turn to a Zero Trust as a Service model that simplifies implementation eliminates upfront costs, and provides quick ROI.