President Joe Biden’s executive order requiring all federal agencies to implement zero trust principles has recently brought the idea of zero trust architecture as a cybersecurity strategy into sharp light.
This federal law established the standard for how seriously the idea of zero trust should be taken by public and commercial institutions. But what exactly is zero trust, and how does it differ from the cybersecurity protections that the majority of enterprises now have in place? Simply said, zero trust architecture is a security technique that necessitates continuous user authentication, validation, and authorization in order to access data and resources on a given network. The name “zero trust” refers to the fact that no users or devices are automatically trusted to have access to the network.
Origin of Zero Trust
Although John Kindervag used the term “zero trust” in a Forrester research study in 2010, the idea itself has older origins. The strategy was developed to modernize the venerable perimeter-based network security concept. The perimeter method made the assumption that every user who entered a corporate network’s limits was a “trusted” user who could access network data without the necessity of the second element in the authentication. Users who weren’t connected to the network were referred to as “untrusted” users.
The cybersecurity community’s general assessment altered to remove the idea that any user can be genuinely trusted as cyber threats become more sophisticated.
Zero trust architecture evolved as a response to rising cyber threats, actively battling threats from all sides, as the proverb “the best defense is a good offense” advises.
Today, both public and commercial organizations are beginning to adopt the zero trust approach to cybersecurity. Let’s now explore the security framework that supports zero trust architecture in more detail.
Zero Trust’s Core Concepts
When we talk about zero trust, we like to emphasize these four core concepts:
Consider the network to be hostile; understand that there are active risks in your environment; every person, device, and network flow should always be authenticated and authorized; and ultimately.
Make sure network policies are dynamic and derived from a variety of telemetry sources.
The first principle – The most important principle of the zero trust ethos is probably to believe that the network is hostile. The “trusted” internal network and the “untrusted” internet have historically been divided by firewalls or intrusion detection systems. Simple things like IP addresses, ports, or even services might have control restricted by these devices. Then, anything incorporated into the network is given trust. Due to the complexity of cybersecurity threats, malicious actors are skilled at getting through these basic safeguards and earning this attributed trust. Lateral mobility is unrestricted once inside.
Second, the best course of action is to always believe that your surroundings pose risks. Even if your environment has very robust defensive measures in place, major breaches nevertheless pose a risk. This highlights the necessity of ongoing network artifact monitoring and analysis. Additionally, never believe that vendor solutions touting machine learning and artificial intelligence can address all of your problems or that networks are low risk and therefore need no protection.
Third, never should a device or user enter your network without first being authorized. The Kipling technique can be used to do this because it goes beyond ordinary authentication. To do this, you must always ask the who, what, when, where, why, and how questions. This will guarantee that you have the knowledge or tools necessary to view and limit this information
Lastly, It’s important to keep in mind that network policies change over time. It is impossible to execute a zero-trust policy completely in a single day. Identify the necessary applications, assets, and services within a network, this calls for ongoing analysis of a changing network, the introduction of new policies, and a continuous inventory plan. Your implementation needs to adapt to changing environments.
Creating Zero Trust
Implementing zero trust infrastructure within your company is not a straightforward process. Driving a cultural shift that compels disparate departments to collaborate and exchange information, thereby closing the holes for potential cyber risks, may be the most challenging aspect, though. Although around 50% of cybersecurity experts are actively looking into how to apply the practice, data indicates that as little as 10% of businesses have the technologies in place to do so.
In spite of these difficulties, there are a few approaches you can take to implement zero trust. The first step is to take stock of the data you need to secure and be aware of the cybersecurity procedures you already have in place. A thorough network analysis will probably point up any weak points in your perimeter, allowing you to strengthen those areas using zero trust policies.
Then, it’s important to start gently putting zero trust policies into practice. This might take the form of implementing MFA for all of your staff, implementing a mobile device management system, or testing out potential security upgrades to your current network technologies. Finally, to keep the zero trust architecture operating like a well-oiled machine, it is imperative to have a coordinated, executable plan. Even if it takes some iteration to get there, good zero trust architecture should be as uniform and smooth as possible.
Cybersecurity threats are a top concern for governments and corporate companies in the modern digital environment. According to data from CompTIA’s 2021 State of Cybersecurity report, business leaders should prioritize cybersecurity in the upcoming years.
Concern over cybersecurity risks isn’t just affecting businesses; it’s also making consumers doubt the reliability of data and technology in general. One of the biggest issues the IT industry is experiencing, according to Forbes, is people’s trust in technology and data.
The increasing incidences of data breaches and ransomware that besets every organization make clear the consequence of failing to follow proper security measures. To prevent cyber threats from ever infiltrating your network, it is essential to start implementing Zero trust architecture in the face of this uncertainty about the future of cybersecurity.