December 2, 2020

Zero Trust is a cybersecurity model that runs on the belief of trusting no one inside or outside your network until their identity has been verified. Under this framework, identities are continuously validated through authentication and authorization methods. And security doesn’t stop once an identity enters the network, they are continuously validated as they move laterally from within.

Zero Trust’s approach to security builds a defense through your identity infrastructure, rather than your network perimeters. We can no longer trust a user simply by whether they are part of an organization or the password they provide. We must look at user attributes and behavior patterns to understand who’s trying to gain access, how they are gaining access, and what they will do with that access.   

What are the security issues associated with traditional network security?

A traditional network security model governs access to an organization’s networks and applications from the network perimeters. Thought leaders in Zero Trust like to call this the castle and moat philosophy, which controls access from outside the network, using security protocols such as firewalls, Virtual Private Networks (VPNs), access controls, email security, web security, and Security Information and Event Management (SIEM)—to name a few.

However, as more enterprises are migrating from on-premises to hybrid and cloud environments, and as more organizations go remote and use their own devices, it becomes harder to secure the perimeters and control who moves laterally within the network. As a result, organizations are adopting a Zero Trust approach to network security.

Here are some tips on how to incorporate Zero Trust architecture into your organization.

Apply the principle of least privilege (PoLP).

Zero Trust is predicated on the Principle of Least Privilege (PoLP). The principle of least privilege, or least privilege access is a security protocol that runs on the assumption that everyone is a potential threat and because of that, they should only be granted the permissions they need to complete their job function. The principle of least privilege extends beyond human users, and can be applied to programs, applications, systems, and devices.

Least privilege access helps protect and secure privileged credentials, data and assets by limiting user access from within the network. So, if an attacker accesses your IT environment, PoLP reduces their risk of gaining access to a privileged account, therefore reducing the risk of data breach.

Implement multi-factor authentication (MFA).

Authentication should be at the core of any cybersecurity strategy, especially when it comes to Zero Trust. There are many authentication methods out there, but multi-factor authentication adds an extra layer of security by requiring a user to provide multiple forms of evidence (factors) to verify their identity and gain access to a network, or multi-cloud environment.

Multi-factor authentication methods for verification include:

  • Something you know: username, password, or pin number
  • Something you have: mobile device or app
  • Something you are: biometrics such as a fingerprint, face or voice recognition software

Use microsegmentation.

Microsegmentation divides a data center or cloud environment up into different segments, and limits user access to those segments based on their role within an organization. This in turn secures and isolates the user and their workload to a specific segment of the network, unless they have authorization to move elsewhere.

It provides a view into all network activity, which allows admins to create specific segmentations based on what they are observing and protect potential threat from moving laterally within the network.

Audit the network.

In order for your Zero Trust implementation to work, it must be applied to all users and systems within your IT environment. Start by running an audit of your network, which includes identities, access controls, and access policies. Understanding where your data and applications live, as well as access policies and access controls such as who has access and how they are using that access are important steps you must follow as you begin to build out security and access protocols within your network.

Next, you’ll want to adopt an identity and access management solution that can verify these user identities before they access your network and applications, can provision access based on user roles, and can use policy management to automate, control and monitor how their access is utilized within the network. Having a strong Zero Trust approach ensures security to all users, applications, and data.

Final thoughts.

Now that most organizations are operating in a multi-cloud environment and have distributed and remote workforces—adopting Zero Trust architecture is more important than ever. An identity-centric approach to your Zero Trust model should be at the center of your organization’s security infrastructure.

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