Glossary

Zero Trust Architecture

Zero trust network security is a dramatic shift in attitude towards network security resulting in restrictive access to networks, environments, and applications inside the enterprise’s perimeter. This relatively new security model is based on the principle of “never trust, always verify.” 

Traditionally, securing an organization’s network and sensitive data protected the perimeter. As a result, endpoint security was at the core of a company’s IT security policy. This model implies that users and devices within the perimeter should be trusted. 

Zero trust challenges this paradigm and calls for robust authentication methods throughout the network, limited lateral movement, and network segmentation. Digital transformation is taking nearly every industry by storm, and security policies need to adapt. Trusting everyone in your network is no longer worth the risk.

Zero Trust Architecture

What is Zero Trust Security?

Traditional security leverages VPNs, firewalls, intrusion detection systems (IDSs), and email gateways to build multiple layers of security-focused on keeping attackers out. However, once these layers were penetrated, malicious actors had nearly unrestricted access to the internal network and related data.

The zero trust framework understands the flaws of trusting users within a network by default. These flaws are magnified by including cloud computing and other external resources that modern networks depend on. 

Instead, zero trust demands identity verification for every user or device when accessing resources, even for users already within the network’s perimeter. The National Institute of Standards & Technology (NIST) formally established the following principles of the zero trust security model:

  • Every form of communication is secure regardless of its location in the network.
  • Access to company resources is granted per connection, and trust is evaluated for every connection before granted access.
  • Resource access is determined by policy, including user identity, behavioral attributes, and the requestor’s system. 
  • Resources are defined as every data source and computing service.
  • Every associated and owned system maintains the most secure state possible and is constantly monitored.
  • All user authentication is dynamic and strictly enforced before access is granted and requires authentication continually to access additional resources.

Simply put, the zero trust security model requires continuous verification, limits the “blast radius” of breaches, and considers modern network’s dependence on external resources. 

Start Getting Value With
Centraleyes for Free

See for yourself how the Centraleyes platform exceeds anything an old GRC
system does and eliminates the need for manual processes and spreadsheets
to give you immediate value and run a full risk assessment in less than 30 days

Best Practices for Implementing Zero Trust Architecture

Embracing the zero trust network model is a decisive step towards enhancing network and data security. Therefore, an organization that wishes to implement the zero trust framework should begin by:

  • Identification of sensitive data: All company data must be identified and prioritized. Zero trust security relies on knowing where this data lives and who should rightfully have access to it. Therefore, the security team must prioritize data sensitivity to create access rules. 
  • Limited and controlled access:  Limits must be established based on user groups, processes, devices, and applications attempting to access data. Zero trust embraces the “need-to-know” basis for accessing any company resources. A user should be given the lowest possible access to any requested resource. Multi-factor authentication is essential for controlled access.
  • Implementing enhanced threat detection systems: Zero trust requires continuous monitoring of every activity related to accessing and sharing data. In addition, the activity must be compared to baselines established by prior analytics and behavior. Combining monitoring of behaviors, rules, and data security analytics creates the ability to detect internal and external threats.

You can see how some traditional security layers are still valuable, but new systems that incorporate machine learning are necessary to examine authentication requests by analyzing historical data.

Benefits of Embracing Zero Trust Security

The zero trust model allows enterprises to reduce the risks of incorporating external resources and networks, such as cloud computing or integration with partner’s systems. In addition, zero trust allows for policy rules that can be updated automatically based on identified risks. 

Embracing the continuous verification paradigm embodied by zero trust architecture will stop or limit the following types of cybersecurity risks and intrusions:

  • Reduce the effectiveness of phishing: Phishing emails are less effective or entirely ineffective since authentication considers geolocation and the device used, rather than only using credentials.
  • Protect sensitive data: Lateral movement through the internal network is continuously validated so any intruders that penetrate an endpoint are still prevented from accessing sensitive data.
  • Enhanced user authentication: Stolen developer passwords or database credentials won’t grant access to vital data due to enhanced user authentication guidelines (including MFA) that consider past behavior and devices.
  • Better overall security: Exfiltration of compromised databases will fail due to enhanced security systems that recognize and prevent unusual behavior.
  • Robust authentication: Privilege escalation attacks will fail due to the added authentication requirements. 

Enterprises continue to integrate external resources as they embrace digital transformation. Zero trust security understands this and continuously validates access levels to ensure that only authorized users access company resources. 

Start Getting Value With
Centraleyes for Free

See for yourself how the Centraleyes platform exceeds anything an old GRC
system does and eliminates the need for manual processes and spreadsheets
to give you immediate value and run a full risk assessment in less than 30 days

Related Content

Information Security Risk

Information Security Risk

Information technology is an excellent opportunity for businesses to increase their capabilities, but it’s also a…
Supply Chain Compliance

Supply Chain Compliance

A supply chain is a delicate structure composed of multiple companies, decision-makers, and suppliers all working…
Compliance Automation Software

Compliance Automation Software

Security and compliance have always been critical tasks in business operations, and management teams have always…