Zero trust always requires visibility of users, devices, applications, and networks to identify and verify them. It means multi-factor authentication (MFA), continuous monitoring at runtime, and limiting connections to minimize damage if an account is compromised. It also means implementing granular access policies to virtualize each enterprise resource and limit the “blast radius” of a breach. The key to achieving this is automation and integration of technology tools.
A zero-trust strategy replaces the traditional castle and moat security approach by breaking your network into small segments. Then, you apply security policies to each component, ensuring that only approved traffic can enter. It reduces the attack surface and prevents attackers from moving laterally through your network to reach sensitive assets.
In addition, micro-segmentation helps ensure that your data is safe by preventing access to untrusted networks and applications. It ensures that users can only access essential programs depending on the minimal rights required to finish a task. It prevents privileged account abuse, which is a common vector for attacks. Finally, it enables you to enforce the least privilege principle, which requires non-human accounts (such as service accounts) to access only those services required for a specific job.
Zero trust solutions should provide granular policy management and visibility to help you identify and isolate threats. They should also support multi-factor authentication (2FA) to prevent attackers from bypassing authentication and gaining access to your network. It is a standard feature on many online platforms and protects against common cyber threats.
Look for a solution that supports a hybrid cloud environment, allowing you to deploy and manage security controls across physical environments, hardware platforms, operating systems, and deployment models. Also, look for a solution that provides an integrated set of security capabilities, including software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN), firewall as a service (FWaaS), secure web gateway (SWG), and cloud access security brokers (CASB). It will enable you to reduce the number of technologies in your security stack while delivering the comprehensive protection your organization needs.
In a zero-trust architecture, no device, user, or application is trusted by default. Instead, everything attempting to access the network must be authenticated and authorized. It requires security tools that can perform strong authentication, such as secure remote access control and multi-factor authentication (MFA). Zero trust architecture also enforces the principle of least privilege by limiting connections to only those required for specific business functions. It helps restrict attackers from moving laterally through the network once they gain access. In addition, zero trust also entails enabling continuous monitoring that analyzes and manages activity on the web at all times. It helps identify potential threats, active attacks, and suspicious behavior that may warrant investigation. Finally, a zero-trust security framework must include advanced threat protection components that detect and stop cyber attacks in their early stages. It requires visibility into all activities and identifying caches of sensitive data as well as implementing preventive techniques like application-level encryption, data loss prevention, and anti-malware capabilities.
An effective zero-trust architecture must monitor all network traffic and implement security controls that analyze data packets for signs of malicious activity. It requires a level of visibility that legacy perimeter-based systems can’t deliver. It also means deploying analytics and threat-hunting tools to help detect abnormal behavior across micro-perimeters to identify potential threats and initiate response actions quickly. Unlike traditional firewalls, which operate on an assumption of trust, zero trust assumes every device, user, and application is hostile until proven otherwise. This approach requires rigorous authentication and authorization to ensure access. Inspecting data and applications for malware, viruses, vulnerabilities, and other issues and applying granular policies are also necessary.
This model must be incorporated into organizational processes, requiring integration with micro-segmentation tools, software-defined perimeter tools, and identity-aware proxies. It should also address the diverse ecosystem of networks and devices across an organization. For example, an organization may run multiple cloud platforms and physical data centers, have users on various desktop and mobile devices, and use multiple communication and collaboration applications. To implement zero trust, organizations must also take into account the fact that most cyberattacks occur as a result of human error or negligence. It requires limiting and monitoring user access, including employees working from home or remotely on business trips, and protecting against infrequent but inevitable human mistakes like clicking phishing links or misconfiguring a web browser.
As you transition to a zero-trust architecture, you must establish visibility into your network and its components. It includes both physical assets, like laptops and IoT devices, and digital artifacts, such as business applications. Visibility enables your infrastructure to evaluate the current state of each device, granting or denying access to resources based on that information. It also allows you to identify and manage key business processes to ensure that all access requests are evaluated against them. Visibility also helps you determine if any resources have been compromised and how far they have spread within your network. It is called a “blast radius” and limits the impact of an external or insider breach, protecting your most critical data. Visibility can be achieved through various technologies, such as micro-segmentation, granular perimeters, and identity-based access control.
The most important step is implementing a continuous verification framework that authenticates and authorizes access based on all available information. It is known as the “never trust, always verify” approach. It uses advanced security techniques to continuously verify access based on user, device, location, and risk posture. It also supports the “least privilege principle,” ensuring that credentials only have access to the minimum capabilities needed to perform their tasks. It helps minimize attack surfaces and eliminates privileged accounts, often the targets of attacks.