WHAT IS A ZERO-TRUST STRATEGY
As stated by VMWare, "Zero Trust is the name for an approach to IT security that assumes there is no trusted network perimeter and that every network transaction must be authenticated before it can transpire."
Zero trust is a strategy that treats every network connection as untrusted by default and requires users to be authenticated before accessing any private information in or outside the organization's network. This approach uses advanced technologies, including multifactor authentication and identity and access management (IAM), to verify the user's identity.
Zero Trust is a significant evolution from traditional network security known as the "trust but verify" method. The "trust but verify" assumes that users and endpoints are trustworthy as long as they are within the organization's perimeter.
While this strategy may seem safe, it actually leaves the company vulnerable to both malicious internal actors and external malicious actors who might take over legitimate credentials and who will have wide access once inside.
This cybersecurity strategy that worked for businesses operating in a homogenous corporate environment became obsolete with the advent of cloud computing and distributed workforces due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
HOW DOES THE ZERO-TRUST STRATEGY WORK?
The Zero Trust strategy relies on other network security methods, such as strict access controls, but also network segmentation. Network segmentation is a network security technique that divides a large and complex network into smaller subnetworks, each with its own unique rules for sharing information.
Zero Trust policies rely on real-time visibility into user and application identity attributes such as:
- User identity and type of credential
- Credential privileges on each device
- Connections patterns for the credential and device (considered as normal behavior)
- Endpoint hardware characteristics
- Authentication protocol
- Operating system versions and patch levels
- List of the applications installed on an endpoint
- Security or incident detections (including suspicious activity and attack recognition)
Contrary to the "trust but verify" model, in a Zero Trust network environment, the location of a resource is no longer an indication of its security. Moreover, instead of being segmented into rigid networks, data and other network elements are protected by software-defined micro-segmentation. This allows organizations to keep them secure anywhere, whether in your data center or in distributed hybrid and multi-cloud environments.
BENEFITS OF A ZERO-TRUST FRAMEWORK:
- It reduces the number of potential entry points for a cyberattack, protecting an organization's network and data from unauthorized intrusion while reducing the time and cost of responding to and cleaning up after a breach.
- It enables network traffic and user activity detailed monitoring.
- It addresses the modern challenges of securing remote workers, hybrid cloud environments, and ransomware threats.
- It reduces the risk of a data breach: every request is examined, users and devices are authenticated, and permissions are evaluated before the system allows access. This granted trust is then continually reassessed as context changes, such as the user's location or accessed data.
HOW TO GET STARTED WITH A ZERO-TRUST STRATEGY?
There is no magic bullet or one-size-fits-all solution to implementing Zero Trust. The Zero Trust framework will depend on the size of the protected surface and its micro-segmentation. While designing the Zero Trust network architecture and policies, it is crucial to consider their impact on the user experience for affected applications, databases, and other resources.
As a first step, we recommend answering these two questions:
- "What are we trying to protect?"
"From whom are we trying to protect it?"
Answering these questions will help to design the best architecture possible. Then, the most effective approach is to layer technologies and processes on top of your strategy, not the other way around. Worried about implementing a whole zero-trust strategy at once? It is totally possible to take a phased approach before implementing the strategy more broadly.
To support a Zero Trust model, organizations use a variety of tools, including:
- Zero trust network access (ZTNA) or software-defined perimeter (SDP) tools
- Secure access service edge (SASE) or VPN solutions
- Microsegmentation tools
- Multifactor authentication (MFA)
- Single sign-on (SSO) solutions
- Device approval solutions
- Intrusion prevention systems (IPS)
It can be difficult to implement a homogenous and comprehensive zero-trust strategy because many of these tools are specific to operating systems, devices, and cloud providers.
Feeling overwhelmed? We get it. This is why at LENET, we propose both cybersecurity strategy consulting and solutions to make sure that you implement the right strategy for your organization.