70% of remote workers admit to using a personal device to access a work-related network. And this wave of new devices has opened new cybersecurity threats and challenges. That’s why the benefits of Zero Trust security have become so important and especially for remote work.
Furthermore, Zero Trust gained increased attention when the White House announced plans to move US government operations toward the said architecture.
What are the three main concepts of Zero Trust?
Zero Trust is an information security model that provides security through identity-based access controls. Moreover, a Zero Trust IT framework authenticates and authorizes users before providing access to any resources, and that’s regardless of their location or the type of device in use.
The three main benefits of Zero Trust security are:
1. Identity-based access control: In a Zero Trust cybersecurity environment, only authenticated and authorized users are allowed access to any resources. This means that each user has a unique identifier and all access to resources rests on the user’s identity and role within the organization.
2. Contextual awareness: To make sure that users only have access to the resources they need, Zero Trust requires a robust context management system that can track where users are accessing resources from and what devices they are using. This helps to prevent malicious actors from exploiting vulnerabilities in the network or taking advantage of stolen credentials.
3. Limited privilege: One of the key goals of Zero Trust is to reduce the attack surface area by granting users only the privileges they need to do their job. This helps to prevent accidental or malicious breaches caused by misconfigured systems or compromised accounts.
Also, check out main functions of SecOps – the team that safeguard your organization’s interests online.
Zero Trust architecture example
Zero Trust is an architecture where security is not based on predefined trust levels. Rather on the context of each action and the architecture authenticates and authorizes users every time they access resources, regardless of their location or the type of device they are using.
“Least privilege” is a common Zero Trust implementation. With the least privilege, the framework provides users with only the privileges they need to complete their tasks. This limits the amount of damage that which can occur if some bad actor compromises user’s credentials.
Another Zero Trust architecture example is the AirWatch platform – a mobile device management platform allowing businesses to manage and secure their mobile devices. Zero Trust security model mark all devices as untrusted. It ensures only authorized devices have access to the network. Any malicious or unauthorized activities are quickly detected and addressed.
Zero Trust network access
Zero Trust networks ensure security no matter the location of the user. Or the type of device in use. One common example of Zero Trust network access is the use of micro-segmentation. In a micro-segmented network, each application or service operates in an isolated network segment. This makes it difficult for attackers to move laterally across the network and gain access to sensitive data and systems. Micro-segmentation can protect from insider threats. As it makes it difficult for malware to spread. Also, malicious actors can’t steal data when applications and services run separately.
How to implement the benefits of Zero Trust security
To implement a Zero Trust IT framework:
1. Define your security and risk management strategy
The first step in implementing a Zero Trust architecture is to define your security and risk management strategy. This will include identifying the business goals you want to protect, the assets you need to protect, and the risks you are willing to accept.
2. Identify who needs access to what resources
Define your security and risk management strategy, and identify who needs access to what resources. This will help you determine which users must have access to specific systems and applications.
3. Create a Zero Trust access model
The next step is to create a Zero Trust access model to include the trust levels for each user. Also, specify the conditions that they must meet before they get access to those resources.
4. Implement security controls
Now you must implement security controls that enforce it. This may include user authentication and authorization mechanisms, firewalls, intrusion detection/prevention systems, and other security measures.
Zero Trust architecture principles
There are several Zero Trust principles that one must follow to benefit from it. These include, on top of common sense:
1. Reducing the attack surface as practically possible. Remove or disable unnecessary services and protocols.
2. Segment your network into tight clusters, with limited access between them. This makes it more difficult for attackers to move laterally.
3. Using multi-factor authentication.
4. Deploying intrusion detection and prevention systems.
5. Continuously monitor your network for suspicious activity, and act quickly to investigate any alerts.
Benefits of Zero Trust security model at Microsoft
Microsoft is a big proponent of the Zero Trust security model and has remained so for many years. The company has long recognized that a traditional, perimeter-based security model is no longer effective in today’s environment. With cloud computing and the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) trend, employees are working from all kinds of devices and locations, and often have access to sensitive data.
Microsoft designed a Zero Trust security model to address these challenges. Microsoft implements security on a need-to-know basis. That way, users only have access to the data and applications they need to do their job. This minimizes the risk of unauthorized access or data theft.
Additionally, the Zero Trust architecture lets you address compliance issues. It’s achieved by implementing tighter security controls. Microsoft can ensure that its customers are meeting compliance requirements.
Microsoft’s Zero Trust security model is proving to be very successful. The company has seen a significant increase in customer adoption in recent years. In a 2017 survey, 52 percent of respondents said they were using or planned to use a Zero Trust strategy within two years. You can expect this number to continue to grow in the coming years.
📖Additional reading: Adoption of IoT security software to battle cyber threats.
Zero Trust model at Cloudflare
Cloudflare is well-known for its innovative security features. The reason for effective security features at Cloudflare is they deploy a Zero Trust model. Meaning, their security team does not trust any entity implicitly and instead verifies every connection before allowing access.
This approach has several advantages for Cloudflare. First, it ensures that only authorized users can access their network. Second, it helps to protect against malicious actors who may try to exploit vulnerabilities in the network. Lastly, it makes it difficult for attackers from gaining access to sensitive data.
In a nutshell, the Zero Trust model is a key factor in Cloudflare’s success in terms of security. By verifying every connection, they can be sure that their network is as secure as possible and that their users’ data is safe from attack.
Can you ignore the benefits of Zero Trust security?
Zero Trust is growing in popularity for a reason; it works. By implementing the Zero Trust IT framework, businesses can improve the security of their networks. Microsoft and Cloudflare are just two examples of companies that have seen success with the Zero Trust model. What do you think has led to the rise of Zero Trust architectures? Comment below!