Thinking of adopting Zero Trust Security. Here are some fundamental principles you need to know.

What is the Zero Trust Security

Officially named in 2010, a network security model was introduced to secure organizations’ evolving IT infrastructure, which became more vulnerable after heavily incorporating cloud-based applications and databases into their current IT management strategy, creating a limitless network perimeter for organizations that could access it anywhere.

This model is known as the Zero Trust Framework, sometimes referred to as the Zero Trust Network or Zero Trust Architecture. It’s now one of the fastest-growing models for enterprise-level organizations, as well as government agencies, to implement a comprehensive cybersecurity program.

Principles of Zero Trust

It’s almost better to think of Zero Trust as a culture within a firm. Zero Trust is not a technology or software product but a set of guiding principles for an organization to live by when constructing a cybersecurity program. So one doesn’t purchase Zero Trust software or enroll in a Zero Trust management package, but implement security solutions to put their cybersecurity program at Zero Trust based on its fundamental principles:

“Never Trust, Always Verify”
Zero Trust makes the correct assumption that cyber-related threats are both outside and inside (employees) a network system. So constant verification and authentication of users and devices are at the core of Zero Trust.

An example of enforcing this is through multi-factor authentication (MFA) that requires a user to use an additional method (after their regular credentials) to prove they are legitimate such as another password, piece of hardware or, biometric scan (thumbprint, eye scan, etc.).

Zero Trust also means that an organization will need to consistently force their users to re-login and authenticate themselves based on contextual factors like the time between logins, session type, device type, concurrent logins, etc.

Micro-Segmentation refers to dividing a network into various segments and serves two main objectives:

  1. To secure an entire network or computer system by requiring separate access and authentication at every segment
  2. To isolate an incident to one or few network agents, devices, and/or applications the event of a breach or other cyber attack

Microsegmentation creates a proactive (securing individual network segments) and reactive (isolating a potential incident) solution to network security.

Least Privilege Model

Following the principle of least privilege means that employees and other users will only have enough system and data access to do their job. For example, no matter how senior-level their employees are, a sales team should only have access to sales data and applications such as lead information, marketing materials, sales tools, etc.

There would be no reason for them to access the human resources data, which would contain sensitive information about all the employees. So managing user permissions to databases and applications would be a way to enforce this principle.

Continuous Monitoring and Access Control

For an organization to be at Zero Trust, strict and detailed access management needs to be utilized to monitor the devices on the network and control the users entering the network system. This allows you to control network activity and quickly respond in the event of a potential incident.

Much of these principles are enforced by using enterprise detection and response (EDR) software that allows system administrators to track and analyze endpoint data while also containing features for automated response (notification, containment, etc.) if a threat is detected.

Why Zero Trust?

Zero Trust has proven to be a far more secure strategy than traditional network security, which sometimes uses a “castle-and-moat” approach in which once a user gets in, they aren’t re-verified or need to authenticate their identity while freely being able to roam much of the “castle” (network). Its use of “always verify,” micro-segmentation of a network, least-privilege access model, and continuous monitoring and control make Zero Trust a prime framework that has become extremely attractive to organizations of all sizes.

Here are is what makes the Zero Trust principles highly effective for a cybersecurity program:

  • Zero Trust makes it so that even if a malicious actor were to have the credentials to access a network, they would still need additional authentication and do so frequently.
  • Zero Trust makes it near impossible for cyberattacks to move “laterally” within a network.
  • Zero Trust restricts access to malicious actors to just one, identifiable device for an easy solution to remediation
  • Zero Trust helps keep negligent employees from impacting the entire organization’s network.
  • Zero Trust gives an organization complete control over network access.
  • Zero Trust allows for automated threat analysis and incident response.

Time to Take Action

Setting your organization up to be at Zero Trust doesn’t have to require a full 180-degree transition. Ascension Global Technology can help you bridge that gap to getting your cybersecurity program to a Zero Trust Architecture by seeing where Zero Trust is needed and implementing the right solutions for comprehensive Zero Trust. Schedule a consultation with one of AGT security experts today to get started.

Written by: Jack Pittas, AGT Cybersecurity Writer

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