If you’ve had your ear to the ground lately in the cybersecurity world, you’ve probably heard the buzz around Zero Trust security architecture.
As more organizations have moved to the cloud and data breaches have become more costly, the traditional security perimeter-based approach to IT has become less effective at keeping data safe. As a result, more organizations have adopted Zero Trust.
According to Okta’s “State of Zero Trust” Report, 55% of organizations surveyed in 2022 already had initiatives in place. Then, an overwhelming 97% of respondents said they plan to implement Zero Trust this year.
In this article, we’ll break down how Zero Trust security architecture works, its benefits and how to get started with implementing Zero Trust at your organization.
What is Zero Trust security?
Zero Trust security architecture is a cybersecurity approach that assumes that all users, devices, and networks are potentially untrusted and must be verified before being granted access to resources. In a Zero Trust system, every access request is treated as a potential threat, regardless of the user’s location or whether they are inside or outside the network perimeter.
The traditional approach to cybersecurity, known as a “castle and moat” model, assumes that the network perimeter is secure and that all resources within it can be trusted. However, this approach has become increasingly ineffective in today’s digital landscape, where the workspace is distributed in the cloud, threats can come from anywhere, and insiders can be malicious.
There really isn’t a network edge anymore, and as a result, the Zero Trust system uses a “never trust, always verify” approach.
It uses multiple layers of security controls to verify the identity and intent of every access request, and grants access to resources only after the request has been thoroughly vetted.
Benefits of Zero Trust security architecture
- Improved security – A Zero Trust system is designed to continuously monitor and verify access requests, making it more effective at detecting and preventing threats. It also reduces the attack surface by limiting access to only the resources that are necessary for a user’s job function.
- Improved visibility – A Zero Trust system provides full visibility into user activity, helping organizations quickly detect and respond to potential threats. It also allows organizations to monitor usage patterns and adjust access control policies accordingly.
- Enhanced compliance – Zero trust systems often incorporate automated compliance checks, which can help organizations meet regulatory requirements and avoid fines.
- Increased agility – Zero trust systems are designed to be flexible and adaptable, allowing organizations to quickly add or remove resources and users as needed.
What does Zero Trust security architecture look like in practice?
Implementing a Zero Trust system requires a thorough assessment of the organization’s security posture and the development of a clear set of policies and procedures. It may also involve the deployment of new technologies, such as identity and access management (IAM) systems, multi-factor authentication (MFA) and biometrics.
- Identity and access management (IAM) – IAM systems help ensure that users have the appropriate levels of access to resources. They also provide a centralized system for managing user accounts and authentication methods, such as passwords and MFA.
- Multi-factor authentication (MFA) – MFA requires users to provide multiple pieces of evidence before they can gain access, such as a password or biometric scan. This helps ensure that attackers are unable to gain access even if they have stolen the user’s credentials.
- Biometrics – Biometrics can be used to verify a user’s identity and provide additional layers of security. Commonly used biometric verification methods include fingerprint scanning, face recognition, and iris scanning.
Downsides to Zero Trust security architecture
While Zero Trust offers a number of benefits in terms of control and visibility, its granular nature does present drawbacks that organizations should be aware of.
- Increased complexity – A Zero Trust system requires careful planning and implementation of a complex set of rules and technologies, which can be difficult to manage.
- Increased cost – Implementing Zero Trust systems often requires the deployment of additional hardware and software, which can increase costs.
- User friction – The increased security measures associated with Zero Trust systems can negatively impact the experience for users in the organization, resulting in frustration and decreased productivity.
How to implement Zero Trust security architecture
Specific Zero Trust implementation plans will vary depending on the size and structure of your organization. However, implementation typically follows these steps:
- Assess the current security posture – The first step is to assess the current security infrastructure and identify any gaps or weaknesses that could be exploited by cyber attackers. This can help inform decisions about which technologies should be deployed and what policies need to be implemented.
- Develop a Zero Trust policy framework – To ensure Zero Trust, organizations need to create a system of policies and procedures that govern access, authentication, encryption, privacy, and other security measures.
- Implement Zero Trust technologies – Once the system is in place, organizations should deploy the necessary technologies such as IAM systems, MFA solutions and biometrics.
- Monitor user activity – Organizations should monitor user activity and usage patterns to ensure that Zero Trust policies are being followed. This can help detect potential threats before they become a problem.
- Regularly review policies – Policies should be regularly reviewed and updated as needed to reflect changes in the organization’s security posture or compliance requirements.
Ultimately, Zero Trust systems can provide organizations with much-needed visibility and control when it comes to their security posture. Careful planning and implementation are essential for ensuring that these systems improve data security and don’t negatively affect user experience. With the right approach, Zero Trust can help organizations maintain a secure environment. Interested in implementing Zero Trust at your organization? Contact Us to schedule a time to review your needs.