Never trust, always verify: Zero Trust explained

20 Dec 2022

    The term “Zero Trust” keeps making headlines, yet the idea behind this security model isn´t new at all. It has been around since the early days of the internet, but now it is celebrating its renaissance. What is Zero Trust, and why should you consider implementing it in your company?

    The Zero Trust security model, also known as a Zero Trust Architecture (ZTA), is an approach to the design and implementation of IT systems based on caution and skepticism. The main motto behind this security framework is “never trust, always verify,” meaning that no device or person, whether external or internal, should be trusted by default.


    Principles of Zero Trust

    In practice, there are three principles of Zero Trust, which aim to prevent or reduce the impact of security breaches.


    1. No network should be automatically viewed as secure

    Whether it is a home network or your local corporate network, it shouldn't be considered a safe space. It pays not to underestimate the capabilities of threat actors who could take over your network with attacks like man-in-the-middle or DNS spoofing.


    2. Principle of least privilege

    If all networks are considered untrusted, the same goes for all users. Unfortunately, you can't guarantee that an account hasn't been hacked, or that an employee doesn't have malicious intent. Your employees should ideally only have the permissions that they need for their jobs. Access rights should be reviewed regularly, and rights that are no longer appropriate should be removed.


    3. Assume a breach

    Cultivate a culture of vigilance and further improve your zero-trust mentality. Reduce the impact of a possible security breach with end-to-end encryption, continuous monitoring, and automated threat detection and response.


    Building security around your resources

    Zero Trust is a perimeter-less model that builds security around an organization's most important resources and entities: data, networks, devices, workloads, and people.

    • Data: You should use encryption to ensure that data is stored and transmitted securely. To increase data safety even more, implement a data loss prevention solution and file integrity monitoring.
    • Networks: Zero Trust networks should be micro-segmented, so it is possible to restrict who can access different parts of the network.
    • Devices: Asset management will give you an overview of all the devices in use. These devices should be protected with endpoint protection and monitoring solutions like endpoint detection and response.
    • Workloads: Cloud-based workloads may be an attractive target for cybercriminals. To protect these assets, it is essential to use any built-in controls they offer in combination with constant monitoring and access management.
    • People: Only authorized individuals should be allowed to perform assigned tasks. You can achieve that by using role-based access controls, multifactor authentication, and account segregation.


    What are the benefits of Zero Trust?

    Security breaches are getting more common every day. To keep up with cybercriminals, you need to consider the potential benefits of all reasonably available protection measures and processes. With the Zero Trust security model added, you are providing yet another security layer to the overall protection of your company. And no matter the size of your business, implementing Zero Trust can bring many benefits. Here are some of them:


    • Generally improved IT security both on the company's network and on external devices of remote workers.
    • Mitigating the risks of a hybrid workplace. In this case, security parameters are always changing, so a distributed workforce needs to be constantly authenticated, and networks are segmented to reduce the ability for threats to spread.
    • Comprehensive and continuous protection against all types of threats, including advanced persistent threats (APTs) and ransomware.
    • Greater visibility and improved monitoring across your business. Based on the main principle of Zero Trust, i.e., that nothing can be trusted, you need to establish monitoring that will cover all your assets and activities. While relying on automation for continuous monitoring, analytics, and sending alerts if any issue arises, the Zero Trust framework highlights the need for high-quality IT management processes. The necessary automation may reduce the workload of IT departments, allowing them to focus on key improvements to their security maturity.


    By pursuing the Zero Trust security model, your organization will bring your IT infrastructure to the required levels of protection by ensuring that all data, applications, and servers are protected in the best possible way.


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