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What You Need to Know About the Zero Trust Model

Zero Trust Security Defined

As the number of cyber crimes increase day by day, organizations have started to adopt to Zero Trust Model. In this model, there are strict policies for identity verification of individuals accessing a private network both within or outside the organization. It is a compiled approach for the security of a network, and it incorporates many different technologies with different principles.

Evolution to Zero Trust

The traditional approach for the security of a network is considered the “castle and moat” approach. With this approach, outsiders have a hard time accessing the network while insiders have full access to the organization’s systems. This leads to a high risk of internal threats which puts the organization at greater risks. This is because once a cyberattack occurs from the inside, the hacker will have access to all the company’s information.

As technology advances, the “castle” that stores information no longer exists because companies now spread their data across various vendors. As a result, companies now find it difficult to protect the network with one security control. Most applications and data are now present within the cloud, and they are accessed by users, employees, partners, and customers. This means that device both within the company’s premises and at different locations around the world can access the organization’s applications and data.

As a result of the “perimeter less” state of organization’s data system, the Zero Security Model, coined by Forrester Research Inc. in 2010, was developed to combat security threats. This model suggests that you cannot trust anyone – both inside and outside the organization. Proper verification is a compulsory requirement for anybody trying to access the resources the organization’s existing network. The model has boosted the level of security and privacy, preventing data breaches and cyber crime.

Google later adopted and implemented this model, which helped it gain popularity, acceptance, and recognition in the IT world. With the credibility of this system led by Google and the increasing costs of data breaches, many organizations have adopted, or re-adopted, the Zero Trust Model.

Main Principles of the Zero Trust Model

The philosophy which led to the development of the Zero Trust Model assumes that data stored in the organizational network is vulnerable to both insiders and outsiders. In this principle, you cannot automatically trust anyone – whether they are a user or a machine – with all the organization’s data.

The second principle to the Zero Trust Model is the least-privilege access. This principle gives controlled access to any identified users. It does not provide any extra information, so the user does not receive more information that what is necessary for their work. Users can only access the data on a need basis, extracting just enough data – no more and no less. With this principle, the company prevents the exposure of any sensitive and confidential content in the network from users with low authority in the organization.

Foundation of the Zero Trust Model

How exactly do you determine what is “just enough data” for users to extract? Before implementing the Zero Trust Model, you must identify your protected surface. A protected surface comprises of the most important elements of your network – the data, assets, applications, and services (DAAS). The protected surface is vulnerable to change based on your organization and its network because it contains only the highly essential information on the operations of an organization. Therefore, the protected surface must be identified and used as a basis of what information can and cannot be shared.

After identifying the protected surface, then your organization will know the information that they must protect within your organization. With this, your organization can use a variety of technologies to protect your organization’s security system.

Methods Used in the Zero Trust Model

Micro Segmentation

Micro segmentation is the process in which security perimeters are broken down into small, controlled zones. With micro segmentation, companies reduce surface threat to their cyber network by limiting the access users have in the system. Micro segmentation guards each section and pathway within the network. By separating each section, individuals who try to access all areas of the network must use multiple levels of authentication to retrieve all critical and valuable data. Only people with the required authority can meet all levels of authentication, thus protecting the organization from potential threats.

Multi Factor Authentication (MFA)

Another method used in the Zero Trust Model is multi-factor authentication (MFA). MFA is an element which requires users to provide multiple pieces of evidence to prove their identity. With MFA, individuals can no longer access the system simply by knowing the password. With the MFA in place, all users – regardless of location – must provide at least two pieces of evidence to prove their identity and receive the appropriate access level to a network.

MFA has become more common and is often used even for personal devices. For example, emails or social medial accounts such as Google’s Gmail, Facebook, or Instagram use two-factor authentication. After inputting your password for your account, the account will require you to confirm a code sent to a personal device or account such as your cell phone. With MFA, hackers must go through a second layer or security, which limits their access or even discourages them from trying to enter the system.

Control Over the Devices

To control the access of a user, control over the devices that access the system is essential. In the Zero Trust Model, your organization keeps track of all devices that access your network to ensure that the access made through the device was authorized. These controls further eliminate the chances of a cyber attack on the network.

Dynamics of the Zero Trust Model

The Zero Trust Model does not confine security to one place or location. Instead, the Zero Trust Model’s rules confines all devices and users with access to the organization’s network. This model moves with the user, protecting network regardless of the network access point’s time or location.

With the Zero Trust Model’s dynamic ability, you gain visibility to monitor and interfere with users, devices, networks, multi-natured applications, and data. Segmentation gateway, an element of this model, helps watch over the traffic and protects your system from threats that come from any location.

Application of the Zero Trust Model

People often think of the Zero Trust Model as highly priced and intensely complex. However, this model is simply the existing outline of the architecture. There is no requirement to change or replace the security technology already implemented in your system. The method to employ the Zero Trust Model is simple, and it only requires you to:

  1. Identify your protected surface.
  2. Identify where the transactions are flowing.
  3. Build an architecture for the model.
  4. Create policies for the organization to implement.

Use the Zero Trust Model to further improve your organization’s cybersecurity. The best way to protect your organization is for you to trust no one and nothing. Create accessibility limits and levels to ensure no one in your organization will be a vulnerability your organization’s network.

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