Let us understand why cybersecurity is evolving to the Zero Trust Architecture.
The increasing demand for cybersecurity is a far cry from how it was many years back. For example, many years before, online traffic was largely directed toward sites with static information. But today, with a massive shift into remote work systems, and data, servers, and applications being made available through various networks, more than 50 percent of current traffic accesses software-as-a-service (SaaS) and cloud applications bearing sensitive data.
This move in network traffic resulted in a reversal, shifting network traffic from on-premises to cloud environments. With this development, access to networks cannot be trusted because they have been authenticated, especially considering remote workers working outside the four walls of their company and using networks and devices that could be vulnerable to various external activities. This is why cybersecurity is evolving to the Zero Trust architecture.
What is Zero Trust?
Zero Trust is a network security architecture that necessitates secure checks for all access requests into a network. So, whether a potential user is an executive in a company or a third party requesting access, they must all pass through the same security procedure of authentication, authorization, and continuous validation process.
Zero Trust assumes that the network can either be in the cloud, local points, a combination, or a hybrid, with workers in a dispersed location and resources situated anywhere. This network and security framework helps organizations secure their infrastructure and data for the requirement of modern digital transformation. In addition, it provides unique solutions to current work challenges, including securely addressing ransomware threats and connecting remote work systems and hybrid cloud environments.
Zero Trust and Micro-segmentation
Zero Trust has a fundamental building block known as Micro-segmentation. What is micro-segmentation? Micro-segmentation is a development of traditional network segmentation to mitigate defects in the older methods inputting finer granularity and a more robust security provision.
Micro-segmentation solutions utilize Software Defined Network controllers (SDNs) or other tools at a workload level. It has a close appearance to traditional segmentation and also some significant differences. For example, traditional procedures depend on perimeter-concentrated security tools such as firewalls and subnets to create barricades between resources.
How Does Zero Trust Architecture Work?
Zero Trust is a significant departure from the traditional network system. It combines advanced security technologies such as next-generation endpoint security, multi-factor authentication, and robust cloud-native technology for user-identity verification and authentication.
The core Zero Trust concept assumes every potential request is malicious by default until an authentication and authorization process has ascertained its genuineness. The network architecture treats all traffic inside or outside the perimeter as untrusted before they go through the authorization process.
And because optimal protection shouldn’t be partial, Zero Trust secures services and applications even when they communicate across network environments and require no policy update or change in the architecture. It keeps applications, users, and devices connected by utilizing business policies over any network, facilitating a secure digital transformation.
Zero Trust Core Principles
1. Repeated Verification Process
Zero Trust repeatedly carries out a verification process, indicating that no credential, zone, or device earns an inherent trust badge. This is why the common Zero Trust mantra: Trust No One, Verify All. However, with the requirement for verifying a broad set of assets, several vital elements must be in place for the effective functioning of the framework.
- Risk-based conditional access. This requires a smooth and uninterrupted workflow except if there is a change in risk levels, giving room to continual verification while ensuring enhanced user experience.
- Fast and scalable dynamic policy model deployment. Because of the distinct nature of workload data, the policy must do behind accounting for risk situations. It must also include IT requirement policy and compliance. It doesn’t exempt organizations from meeting specific requirements or alleviate compliance.
2. Reduced Scope of An Attacker’s Access Paths
In a situation where a data breach finds its way to a network, Zero Trust helps to limit the effect by restricting the access paths available to the attacker. At the same time, the system and management can address the situation. Limiting the radius implies that:
- The security architecture uses identity-based segmentation: Network-based segmentation can be tough to maintain operationally as data, users, workloads, and credentials change continuously.
- Least privilege principle: When humans and no humans use credentials, access is restricted to a minimum capability necessary for carrying out a task.
3. Automate Context Collection and Response
Being able to process more data in real time helps to make proficient and accurate decisions. You can leverage NIST guided on using data from sources such as:
- User credentials – including privileged accounts, non-privileged accounts, service accounts, (and SSO credentials).
- Endpoint – all devices accessing data.
- Workloads – containers, VMs, and others in hybrid deployments
- Other sources (typically via APIs): Identity providers (like AD), SIEM, Threat Intelligence, and SSO.
Zero Trust Implementation Guide
In implementing the Zero Trust framework, there are some crucial stages to follow to bring your model process into full maturation. Ensure these stages while implementing the framework:
- Visualize the process: In the first stage, understand all resources and their access points at your disposal. After considering this, make a holistic consideration of the visual risks involved.
- Mitigate potential threat actors: Uncover threats and stop or mitigate their impact if stopping them outrightly might not be initially feasible.
- Optimize the process: Provide adequate security for every part of the IT infrastructure and all resources, regardless of location, while optimizing IT team engagement, end-user experience, and security teams.