Zero trust requires a combination of network and security technologies to provide granular access controls. These include next-generation firewalls (NGFW), identity and access management (IAM), multifactor authentication (MFA), NAC, encryption, and policy enforcement engines.
The fundamental principles are continuous verification and limiting the “blast radius” to minimize damage in case of an external or internal breach. It can be achieved by following the steps:
Authentication is one of the most critical components of Zero Trust and requires robust multifactor authentication. Without it, Zero Trust cannot be achieved at system perimeters. The system must verify every user’s identity, device, and actions at the network boundary to prevent users from bypassing security policies or gaining access to systems and data they shouldn’t have access to.
In addition, the zero trust framework emphasizes continuous verification and requires the system to re-examine user context and privileges continuously. It enables the policy to limit the “blast radius” if there is a breach and ensures that users only have access to what they need to do their job rather than everything the company has.
Lastly, Zero Trust encourages using micro-segmentation to separate networks, applications, and workloads. Companies can limit damage by hackers who gain access to privileged accounts. It also helps to speed up the time it takes for an adversary to be detected and limits their ability to move laterally across the environment.
Zero trust requires a granular approach to segmentation across networks, devices, users, and workloads. It ensures that the only connections permitted to access data meet a security baseline and are critical for effective cyber risk management.
In addition, the framework must incorporate micro-segmentation to help limit the blast radius should a breach occur. The framework minimizes the impact on the organization by allowing only specific systems to connect to particular resources and ensuring that all systems are monitored by a uniform visibility and control layer.
To implement Zero Trust effectively, security and non-security-focused teams must work together. It ensures that security measures are implemented in a way that does not interrupt business processes and provides a seamless user experience. It also helps identify potential threats and vulnerabilities that a solely security-focused team might need to catch up on. Additionally, it is crucial to apply the principle of least privilege to all accounts, including those for service accounts that perform various functions. It can prevent attackers from leveraging overly permissive funds to gain lateral movement within the environment.
Zero trust is an advanced security model that shifts defenses away from static network perimeters and toward users, devices, and networks. It provides granular access control that is more resilient to attacks such as ransomware and other malware. The framework requires an extensive infrastructure to implement, which can be challenging for organizations that need to become more familiar with it.
Before implementing Zero Trust, organizations need to catalog all of their systems architectures and assets. It includes documenting enterprise systems, weapons systems, and operational technology systems. It allows organizations to identify and evaluate their vulnerabilities. It will help them develop an efficient implementation plan and prioritize their goals.
Another critical step is determining which systems and applications need to be accessed and what kind of access is required for those systems. It will help organizations determine the best way to implement Zero Trust and can also help with securing data with encryption. Encryption can be critical in preventing attackers from moving laterally across the environment. It can also be used to restrict the visibility of sensitive data, such as PII and PHI.
To implement a zero-trust model, organizations need policies that ensure identity and context are considered whenever access is granted. It includes ensuring that users have only the privileges they need and that the principle of least privilege is always upheld; however, these security standards are not easily achieved and require a combination of tools, including network segmentation (micro-segmentation), risk-based multifactor authentication, endpoint protection, next-generation firewall technology, and cloud workload protection.
Policy enforcement also involves heightened visibility into user activities and traffic. It requires a robust infrastructure that provides clear and concise reporting to identify abnormal behavior and the ability to respond in real time.
While many companies struggle with implementing Zero Trust because of the complexity of their IT environments, it’s essential to move away from perimeter-based strategies and embrace this cybersecurity best practice. Organizations can begin by identifying their most critical data, assets, applications, and systems. It will help them to prioritize where to start and provide guidance on how to build the exemplary Zero Trust security architecture.
Using network access control (NAC) systems to verify identities and behavior and continuously provide contextual awareness can be crucial to implementing Zero Trust. By monitoring for risk, context, and user activity, this technology can help identify anomalies that indicate an internal or external threat, whether a malware infection or a cyber employee.
In addition, leveraging multifactor authentication can reduce the chance that attackers will successfully use stolen credentials to enter your system. It can be accomplished by requiring users to authenticate with multiple methods, such as a fingerprint scan, text message PIN, or mobile phone number verification.
Applying Zero Trust will require a complete inventory of all devices, users, and services, identifying vulnerabilities and determining the protection surface. Implementing the principle of least privilege will also be essential, limiting connections to the minimum capability needed, as attacks often leverage overly permissioned service accounts that can enable lateral movement. Having visibility into the time, location, and application involved in each access request will also be vital for continuous compliance.