Paramount Software Solutions Inc

All you need to know about Zero Trust: 10 Essential Points

Traditional security is failing the cybersecurity litmus test

Most CISOs today have the traditional security apparatus in place – the firewall, endpoint security, identity management, VPN and cloud security systems. The focus of the traditional security model is perimeter security – having a gatekeeper at the ingress to the enterprise network and assigning trust and privileges once identity is verified, with no further authentication.
Once authenticated into the network, the user has unrestricted rights, often in excess of their need, to accommodate all possible actions that the user may need to conduct. (excessive privileges).

Now, imagine the disgruntled employee with access credentials – or a malicious attacker who has gained access to valid credentials. With unrestricted internal access, the damage that can be done to the organization can be catastrophic, especially to public sector enterprises. Credential compromise and internal bad actors cannot be identified through a traditional perimeter security approach.

From 2018 to 2020, attacks on US government organizations are estimated to have cost $52.88 billion – 246 attacks that affected over 173 million people.

Clearly, traditional perimeter security is failing.

What is Zero Trust?

The answer lies in a security philosophy called Zero Trust. Zero trust is built on three pillars

  • Continuous verification (always verifying access to the requested application)
  • Limiting damage potential through siloed access (restricting user access to the specific application only)
  • Efficient access context identification (using automated behavior analytics and usage data to identify why access is being requested and if it is potentially illegitimate)

Although zero trust does involve new technology, it is primarily a set of security principles. The mix of tools and security infrastructure needed to enable zero trust, therefore, can vary. Most organizations may already have the building blocks for zero trust in place – but the challenge is tying them together to enable bullet-resistant security.

The 10 things you need to know about Zero Trust

To make things easier to understand, we have put together 10 points which can tell you everything you need to know about Zero Trust – and how you can go about achieving it.

  1. Today’s enterprise or government organization is multi-identity, hybrid and multi-cloud. Users use different identities to use a disorganized mix of multiple SaaS and on-premises apps. The corporate infrastructure with large-scale work from home has introduced legacy, out of compliance systems and unmanaged devices (prone to compromise) into the corporate network.
  2. There is no single perimeter to secure anymore. Apps rest in the cloud, in your data center, sometimes even on the Internet which users can access without logging on to the corporate network. Traditional perimeter one-time security is incapable of protecting your network.
  3. Zero trust can provide security with current infrastructure. It ensures that every single access to every application on your network is monitored – and vetted. An attacker’s potential for harm is severely limited due to the restricted access granted per authentication and quicker security response (as behavior analytics drives faster threat detection). Zero trust could potentially be achieved with existing infrastructure by rearchitecting it.
  4. The zero trust model, a whitelist system, is built on “never trust, always verify”. It also enforces the least privilege principle – granting the absolute minimum permissions required. While this may seem to hamper the user experience, multiple vendors have identified ways to make processes convenient. The model is highly scalable – no matter how many users ask for access, only the permitted set (the ‘whitelist’) is granted access. This reduces the burden of complicated evaluation of every access request.
  5. The NIST 800-207 Zero Trust Framework is the most widely followed (due in part to the endorsement from the US Government ) Zero Trust architecture. The different parts of the framework identify the building blocks for a complete zero trust framework. A lot of the parts may already be part of your security infrastructure – but they now need to work together, instead of in silos..
  6. In this framework, the boxes to the left and right represent the tools needed for zero trust. The center depicts the process. Each of those tools provide different functions needed to enable the process – and these tools need to share information and work together. This needs proper integration.
  7. Government agencies must now adopt zero trust, adhering to the NIST standard. This has come about due to an increasing number of attacks on government agencies, but even the smallest of firms can adopt zero trust with current infrastructure. This is especially crucial for smaller organizations, as they are more choice targets due to an impression of weaker security. Partnering with a seasoned security service provider can help build effective zero trust systems with minimal infrastructure costs.
  8. Educating users about zero trust is essential so they understand the need for increased scrutiny and avoid looking for access shortcuts. Users must be more prudent with passwords and always use MFA (multi factor authentication). At the same time, the right user experience is critical – to avoid MFA fatigue and breaches due to carelessness. Again, this needs good solution architecting.
  9. Zero trust is being widely adopted. 96% of security decision makers believe zero trust is critical to the success of their business. 76% are in the process of zero-trust implementation. However, talent and implementation skill shortages are the top roadblocks to effective implementation.
  10. Zero trust is a continuing pursuit. As zero trust is implemented and in use, it will throw up new insights about the security issues within the organization. Zero trust is a prerequisite for proactive security – continued evaluation of current security, mitigation of possible attack effectiveness through continuous review and correction of security policies and optimization of those policies for faster action. Linking to a structured threat evaluation framework such as MITRE ATTACK can help keep this effort up to date.
  11. The need for Zero trust is clear, but many solutions and many vendors exist. No one size fits all solution exists. Recognize the zero trust needs of your organization and work with a trusted partner to deploy the right solution. A trusted security solutions partner can provide mature and skilled capabilities across multiple vendor and technology solutions to help put together the right solution.

To find out more about how you can put together an effective zero trust security capability for your organization, reach out to us at [email protected].

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All you need to know about Zero Trust: 10 Essential Points

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