As the lines between work and home blur for today’s mobile workforce, zero trust is increasingly needed to protect businesses from advanced threats. But implementing this strategy can be challenging.
A key to zero trust is never trusting anything, consistently verifying access, and enforcing the least privilege. Achieving this requires tools like micro-segmentation and software-defined perimeters.
A Zero Trust architecture is based on the principle that everything inside an organization’s network should be untrusted until proven otherwise. This new security model is critical for digital transformation because it prevents users (both legitimate and threat actors) from exploiting weaknesses in the perimeter to gain entry into the network and move laterally to access confidential applications and data.
So, what is zero trust network security model? Building a Zero Trust framework requires significant upfront work and resources, especially for large organizations with multiple business units that must be brought on board to support the project. This includes obtaining buy-in from managers, employees, and other stakeholders who must understand the benefits of the change and the risks associated with continuing with legacy perimeter technologies that no longer offer adequate protection.
Once the infrastructure is in place, ongoing maintenance and updates are required to ensure all systems comply with the Zero Trust protocols. For example, implementing micro-segmentation techniques and encrypting end-to-end traffic to control network flows takes time and effort. Likewise, requiring all users to authenticate via multiple identity factors to gain access is relatively easy since doing so can increase security while potentially degrading user experience.
For most organizations, however, the benefits of Zero Trust outweigh the investment and ongoing operational overhead involved in deploying it. Zero trust provides improved visibility into security processes, bidirectional communication, and policies, making it easier to scale and adapt to a constantly evolving threat landscape.
Never trust, always verify–Authenticate and authorize based on all available data points, including identity, device, location, network, application, and workload. Continuous verification means no trusted zones or devices, ensuring that users are constantly challenged. This minimizes the impact of a breach by ensuring that only valid users are accessing the data. It also limits the “blast radius” by preventing users from moving laterally across the network and altering what data can be taken outside the firewall.
Reduced risk is essential for modern businesses because it makes identifying and remediating security threats easier. Zero trust enables organizations to eliminate trust relationships easily manipulated by malicious actors, including remote and mobile workers who may use any device, connection, or application to access corporate networks and systems.
Deploying a comprehensive Zero Trust solution that incorporates various preventive techniques, including strong authentication, end-to-end encryption, continuous monitoring and visibility, threat detection and response (SOAR), and micro-segmentation, is essential.
This includes robust identity and access management processes that securely connect users to enterprise resources with verified identity and device context and granular micro-segmentation that adapts to specific workloads and provides additional control. It is also important to keep devices up-to-date so that vulnerabilities are patched quickly, and new threats are not exploited.
Traditionally, a network security strategy built around firewalls and other perimeter tools created a barrier to prevent malware from entering the corporate environment. However, digital transformation and a shift to cloud services and hybrid work have made it difficult for IT to secure the many users, devices, and applications that connect to the organization. Zero trust models, which follow a “never trust, always verify” approach to security, have emerged as a critical security architecture for protecting these environments.
Zero trust provides a comprehensive security posture that can reduce business disruption from threats and minimize the impact of breaches when they do occur. It gives complete visibility of all user, device, and infrastructure connections and implements granular access control policies. It enables continuous verification of all access based on all available data points and assumes that every attack begins inside the network so that attackers can’t be trusted.
To help mitigate this risk, Zero Trust includes identity and access management, endpoint security, application security, and network security. Identity security includes strong authentication utilizing multi-factor authorization (2FA) and a dynamic trust model that verifies credentials based on user behavior. Endpoint security ensures that only authorized and approved user devices can connect to the network by demonstrating all user-controlled devices, including IoT devices. Guard wraps each workload and computes the container to limit unauthorized access to the enterprise infrastructure.
As work continues to migrate to the cloud and remote employees become the norm, security leaders need visibility across their entire infrastructure. Zero Trust provides a solution, offering advanced threat protection beyond traditional firewalls and VPN technologies.
Unlike older “castle and moat” security strategies that assume all traffic is hostile, Zero Trust approaches to treat every user, device, and application as already inside the network. The approach is based on the principle of least privilege and a continuous verification model that ensures users have the minimum necessary access to business applications and data. It also reduces the impact of a breach by limiting lateral movement, making it more difficult for attackers to spread damage from compromised devices or credentials.
The approach allows security teams to enforce policies that limit access to specific resources, allowing them to closely monitor and verify the identity of those who enter the network. This helps keep device firmware current and prevents vulnerabilities from being exploited. Zero trust also supports micro-segmentation, breaking up a more extensive network into smaller zones with separate access control. This makes it more difficult for an attack to move laterally within the organization, reducing the risk of costly breaches and downtime.
Enhanced visibility is essential for modern businesses to protect their digital transformation initiatives and stay ahead of the growing threat landscape. A Zero Trust model enables organizations to adopt various technologies to support their business goals while maintaining strong security controls.