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What is Zero Trust Security and how can you enforce it?

  • deepti

  • Sept. 13, 2019, 12:41 p.m.

Zero Trust Security, an alternative architecture for IT security was first introduced by Forrester and was rooted in the principle of 'never trust, always verify'. Zero trust security has come a long way since then.

My message for companies that think they haven't been attacked is: You are not looking hard enough." James Snook

Each enterprise and individual is at risk today given our huge dependency on the Internet. Our exposure to the Internet is high and businesses need to up their security measures to keep cybercrime at bay.

Even the most unlikely enterprises have been a victim at some point. Perhaps why, a vast majority are now embracing the zero trust security model to prevent exfiltration of sensitive data and stay unfazed in a climate of growing cyber threats.

Why deploy zero trust Security?

In the past, if an employee went rogue and leaked sensitive data, enterprises could deal with the threat by limiting access, barring physical access points for those connected to networks etc. There were ways and means to do it.

But in the modern age of cloud, Internet of things, smartphones, and a geographically spread workforce, boundaries are getting blurred and security is perpetually at risk. Systems are getting more vulnerable and attackers are getting multiple points of entry.

Even the House of Representatives strongly recommend embracing the zero trust architecture in the wake of the Office of Personnel Management breach which is regarded as the largest government data theft in U.S. history.

Zero trust security framework will address the lateral threat movement in a big way. By lateral movement, we are essentially referring to the methods attackers resort to in order to move through a network in search of valuable assets and data.

The point of infiltration is not necessarily the target location; which means the attacker needs to move laterally to eventually reach the location of the data the attacker wants to steal. Enterprises do limit data access to restrict movement.

So sales team is not given access to financial data, HR teams will not have access to sales and customer data and so on. However, these limitations can only restrict cyber threat, but not entirely stop it. This is where zero trust architecture comes into play.

Implementing the zero trust security model

Risk analysis - Before you decide to secure the last line of defense i.e. the privileged access, you need to do thorough risk analysis to understand why you need zero trust network security. A programmatic risk assessment of the way enterprises control access can be a pragmatic approach towards successful implementation of the zero trust model.

Identify the traffic - You need to map the data flow, understand who the users are and examine the applications they use. Secure data access based on user and location and adopt least-privileged access. The privileged access pathway must be monitored at all times to prevent attackers from expanding their control and access.

Secure Tier 0 assets with multistep authentication - These are the most sensitive assets as they control identities, domain controllers and related administrative functions that can have fatal implications if compromised in any way.

Access to critical assets and resources should be provided via managerial approval and multistep authentication. Tier 1 assets such as servers and applications should be guarded in a similar fashion even while granting temporary access to third-party applications or external vendors.

To conclude

Zero trust security architecture requires you to change the way you think. You need to keep a tab on every activity - of humans as well as machines - to identify and mitigate risks.

The controls you place can create isolation layers between endpoints and subsequently enable secure connections within the enterprise. Zero trust should be embraced by one and all as an ethic as well as a business practice, and implemented across functions and networks.

Join us at Anlyz on our mission to secure the online world. Together, let's foster a culture of 'zero trust' for greater trust and security. As Stephane Nappo points out, "IoT without security = Internet of Threats'.