Zero Trust Security is a new approach to determine whether a system or application is trusted or not. It helps organisations establish a secure network foundation, which is then used to manage access to sensitive data and applications. This means that the user or administrator must first authenticate themselves with the system before they can access any data or resources.
Example of Zero Trust Security Model – Imagine you’re at work. You open your computer, sign in, and start typing. But this time, something’s different. Instead of a list of applications and folders, you see a warning that says your computer has been infected with a virus.
You feel panic, but it’s too late. The virus has already locked down your computer and started sending spam emails to all of your contacts.
This is the nightmare scenario of many computer users, but it doesn’t have to be your reality. With the right security measures in place, you can protect yourself from attacks and keep your data safe.
One of the most effective security models for doing this is called zero trust security.
A zero trust (ZT) security solution is defined by the idea that no one is trusted blindly and no one is allowed access to corporate resources until they have been verified as legitimate and authorized.
It works on the principle of “least privilege access,” which selectively grants permissions for only the resources that users or groups of users need, and nothing more.
Additionally, users authorized to access the network, data, and other assets must continually prove their identity.
In this article, we’ll explain what zero trust security is, how it works, and why it’s so important for keeping your data safe.
Zero Trust Security Model
Zero Trust Security Zero Trust is a model for securing networks and data, developed by the security research firm Forrester Research. The term was coined in 2010 when the study of zero trust had only just begun.
In 2013, Google announced that it had implemented Zero Trust security in its network, which led to a growing interest in adoption within the tech community. In 2019, Gartner listed Zero Trust Access as a core component of Secure Access Service Edge solutions (SASE).
Zero Trust is an architectural approach and goal to network security, which assumes that every transaction, entity, and identity is untrusted until trust is established and maintained over time. ZT policies differ from the existing view that a network is secure unless the security systems identify a breach.
The ZT approach to cybersecurity reverses the old paradigm. Cybersecurity is no longer defined by network segments or the boundaries of a company’s network.
Trust is no longer granted based on whether a connection or asset belongs to a company or person. Nor is it granted based on physical location or on the network: Internet or local network.
Over the past decade, businesses have increasingly gone digital. They are now integrating cloud architecture, further integrating remote working, and adding solutions as-a-service, among other transformational changes.
Security teams have evolved network security accordingly. To do this, they have often reinforced the protections by segmenting the network into smaller areas.
Unfortunately, this strategy created more chances for attackers. When attackers gain access to a user’s login credentials, they can move laterally across the network, spreading ransomware and gaining privileges along the way.
Multi-factor authentication (MFA) improved credential strength but added an additional layer of authentication. Once inside, hackers still have continued access until they log out or until the system logs them out.
New ways of working, such as BYOD (Bring Your Own Device), telecommuting, and cloud architecture have added a whole new set of vulnerabilities.
Unfortunately, even new, stronger cybersecurity protections with better visibility stop at the edge of the corporate network and are blind beyond it
The ZT approach, on the other hand, focuses on individual resources, users and assets, regardless of who owns them and where they are located. Authentication takes place individually, for each enterprise resource, before a user is granted access authorization.
The ultimate goal is to achieve a Zero Trust approach on any element of the network before it is verified.
What is Zero Trust Standards?
If one wonders what Zero Trust certifications and standards are, the quick answer is that they don’t exist. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST ), founded in 1901 and now part of the United States Department of Commerce, provides information on technologies, measurements, and standards for the United States. Its objective is to increase technological competitiveness.
NIST creates standards for communications, technology, and cybersecurity practices. It has not yet created standards or certifications for Zero Trust, but it has created a special publication, Special Publication (SP), discussing the goals of ZT architecture.
The document’s abstract describes Zero Trust as follows: “Zero Trust is a term for an evolving set of cybersecurity paradigms that move defenses from static, network-based perimeters to user-centric, assets and resources. The document goes on to describe the Zero Trust approach in depth.
Confusion around Zero Trust
In the world of cybersecurity, there is some confusion around the definition of ZT. Some vendors take advantage of this confusion to sell products labeled as ZT.
Ill-informed people may thus mistakenly think that the ZT is based on products.
The ZT is not product-specific, although new and existing ones can provide building blocks for its architecture. The ZT is a revolutionary approach to cybersecurity. It fits firmly into the concrete way organizations and employees connect and work together today.
Moving towards Zero Trust
If a company is building its infrastructure from scratch, it is possible, and perhaps even easier, to identify the critical workflows and components, and build the ZT architecture from scratch. As the business and infrastructure change, growth can continue to adhere to ZT’s principles over the long term.
In practice, most ZT implementations will occur as a process. Organizations will preserve some balance of ZT and perimeter-based security over time, gradually implementing modernization initiatives.
The complete implementation of a ZT architecture can take several years and includes various discrete projects, before reaching the ultimate goal of Zero Trust.
However, there is no finish line with the ZT. Rather, it should continue to implement and enforce ZT’s strategy over time, taking into account future changes to the business and infrastructure.
Developing a plan before taking action can break the process into pieces, and ensure success over time. Starting with a comprehensive catalog of topics, business processes, traffic flows, and dependency maps prepare you to address the targeted topics, assets, and business processes.
Principles of Zero Trust
The ZT architecture is a goal and an approach that takes time and attention to implement. It is not a one-time installation that you can deploy before moving on to the next one.
It is a cybersecurity philosophy supported by four main principles. One of them may rely on a particular security technique, such as MFA for identity, but the technique used over time may change.
Three basic functions underlie the ZT approach.
- Posture – Prior to the ZT, in perimeter-based security, identity verification was rarely in opposites, “secure” or “insecure.” The ZT approach consists of evaluating identities, devices, applications and data usage, in order to detect possible and significant risks. The posture is qualitative and studies the overall vision.
- Continuous Evaluation – The ZT approach is to constantly evaluate all transactions. A previous approach, Network Admission Control (NAC), had this quality to a lesser extent, but was a single bottleneck, checked a smaller number of criteria, and then granted confidence. The ZT architecture considers all access attempts as a choke point.
- Assumed Compromise – Security Operations Center (SOC) teams often use a “verify, then trust” policy. She assumes everything is fine until the security system issues an alert. The ZT operates on the assumption that nothing is certain and that nothing should be allowed until the situation is clear.
How does Zero Trust work?
The ZT should be implemented gradually and applied continuously. It is not a complete replacement or a one-time deployment, which then remains in place for the life of the network.
This is an incremental process over several years and projects, which involves several aspects of the network and will require constant evaluation, as working habits, technologies and threats evolve.
How your organization implements the ZT approach depends on your operations. Your most valuable assets are a good starting point.
The ZT course includes four components:
- Identity and Access Management (IAM) – Users want single sign-on and administrators want consolidated user administration. For an IAM project to succeed, it must balance the organization’s need for security with availability, ease of use, and cost savings. He should start by mapping the users who need access to these resources and adding MFA authentication if the resource is particularly sensitive.
- Privileged Access Management (PAM) – For the most sensitive resources, a PAM tool such as CyberArk, BeyondTrust, or Thycotic adds an extra layer of security. This enhances safety and visibility.
- Passwords – The philosophy around passwords changes over time. NIST recently issued new guidelines. According to his analysis, using long passwords that use familiar words is recommended, rather than a group of hard-to-remember random characters. Additionally, malicious actors are quick to use compromised passwords. According to NIST, changing passwords every 90 days does not reduce risk, unlike MFA.
- Continuous Monitoring – Define your organization’s access policies, whether based on time, new resource requests, resource changes, or anomalies. Authentication and authorization must be strictly enforced before granting access.
Major Principles of Zero Trust
It is a cybersecurity philosophy supported by 6 main principles. One of them may rely on a particular security technique, such as MFA for identity, but the technique used over time may change.
Let’s further learn about the main 6 principles of Zero Trust and how important they are for improving security.
The principles of Zero Trust, also known as the Zero Trust security model, are a set of guiding principles designed to improve the security of an organization’s network and systems.
Zero Trust is based on the idea that organizations should not automatically trust any user, device, or network inside or outside of their perimeter, and should instead verify the identity and trustworthiness of all entities before granting access to resources.
Here are the 6 principles of Zero Trust:
- Never trust, always verify: The first principle of Zero Trust is to never blindly trust any entity, and to instead verify the identity and trustworthiness of all entities before granting access to resources.
- Assume breach: The second principle of Zero Trust is to assume that the network has already been breached, and to design security measures accordingly. This means that organizations should not rely on the perimeter to protect their assets, and should instead focus on protecting their assets directly.
- Least privilege: The third principle of Zero Trust is to follow the principle of least privilege, which means granting users and devices the minimum access necessary to perform their duties. This helps to reduce the attack surface and minimize the potential for damage if an entity is compromised.
- Microsegmentation: The fourth principle of Zero Trust is to use microsegmentation to create smaller, more secure zones within the network. This helps to limit the scope of an attack and makes it easier to contain and mitigate threats.
- Continuously validate trust: The fifth principle of Zero Trust is to continuously validate the trustworthiness of all entities, and to revoke access if trust is lost. This helps to ensure that only trusted entities have access to resources.
- Use encryption: The sixth principle of Zero Trust is to use encryption to protect data in transit and at rest. This helps to protect against threats such as man-in-the-middle attacks and data breaches.
By following the principles of Zero Trust, organizations can improve their security posture and better protect their assets against threats and vulnerabilities.
Zero Trust Use Cases
Zero trust is a security model that assumes that all users and devices within a network are potentially untrusted and must be constantly verified before they are granted access to network resources.
Here are some examples of zero trust use cases:
- Remote work: With the widespread adoption of remote work, zero trust can be used to secure access to corporate networks and resources for remote workers.
- Cloud computing: Zero trust can be used to secure access to cloud-based resources and services, such as Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS).
- Industrial control systems: Zero trust can be used to secure access to industrial control systems, such as those used in critical infrastructure, manufacturing, and utilities.
- Healthcare: Zero trust can be used to secure access to electronic medical records and other sensitive healthcare information.
- Financial services: Zero trust can be used to secure access to financial systems and customer data in the banking and financial services industry.
- Government agencies: Zero trust can be used to secure access to sensitive government systems and data.
How is zero trust different from traditional security?
Zero trust security is a relatively new term, but the concept has been around for a while. In fact, it’s been around as long as the internet itself.
The problem is that traditional security models, like the ones used in businesses today, don’t take the internet into account.
They’re based on the idea that you can trust your employees and that you can set up firewalls and other security measures to protect your data.
But the problem with the internet is that it’s not secure. You can’t trust anyone, and you can’t put up firewalls to keep people out. In fact, trying to do so will only make things worse. So zero trust security takes a different approach.
It starts with the idea that you can’t trust anyone and then works from there.
It’s a more proactive approach that focuses on identifying threats and keeping your data safe, rather than simply trying to block them out. And it’s this proactive approach that makes zero trust security so effective.
How Does Zero Trust Offer Better Protection?
Zero trust security is a new model of security that focuses on the fact that users can’t be trusted.
In the past, companies would create firewalls and permissions that would allow users inside the company to access certain parts of the network. But with the advent of cloud computing and mobile devices, this is no longer feasible.
Users can now access company data from anywhere in the world, on any device. So a new security model is needed that takes into account the fact that users can’t be trusted. This is where zero trust comes in.
Zero trust security relies on two key principles: first, that users can’t be trusted and second, that all data must be treated as if it’s confidential.
This means that every user must be authenticated and authorized before they’re given access to any data. And access to data is always granted on a need-to-know basis, so users can’t just browse through files they shouldn’t have access to.
This new model of security offers better protection for your data and keeps you safe from unauthorized access.
Key Components of Zero Trust Model
The key components of a zero trust security model include continuous verification, least privileged access and segmentation.
Continuous verification requires users to prove their identity when accessing a system—no matter how many times they’ve done so in the past.
This means that even if a user is already logged in, they will need to provide additional credentials (e.g. two-factor authentication) or biometric technology such as face ID or fingerprint scans in order to access sensitive data or applications. Even It is recommended that, owners of WordPress websites needs to setup two-factor authentication (2FA) to help protect their sites from unauthorized access.
Least privileged access (LPA) means that users are granted access to only the data and resources they need to do their job, nothing more than that.
In addition, segmentation helps reduce the attack surface by limiting the ability of malicious actors once they gain access to a system – preventing them from perpetuating an attack across the entire network.
Implementing a Zero Trust Security Model
At this point, you may be wondering how to get a zero trust security model in place. While there is no one-size-fits-all solution, there are some basic components to look at.
First and foremost, you will want to create a baseline set of security controls such as two-factor authentication, encryption, and network segmentation. You should also focus on how data is protected and monitored—for example, access control should be based on need-to-know principles, with the ability to revoke access for any user at any time.
Finally, you will want to review your system regularly with help from a third-party assessment provider. This should include penetration testing and application security reviews.
You also need to have a plan in place for when things go wrong—this could be anything from malware or phishing attacks to data breaches or system outages.
Zero Trust and NIST 800-207
To implement a Zero Trust model, organizations typically use a combination of technologies and processes to authenticate and authorize access to resources on an as-needed basis. This may include technologies like multifactor authentication, network segmentation, and micro-segmentation.
NIST 800-207 is a publication from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) that provides guidelines for implementing a Zero Trust model. It outlines a framework for assessing an organization’s Zero Trust readiness, as well as a set of recommendations for implementing a Zero Trust architecture.
The official publication is available at https://doi.org/10.6028/NIST.SP.800-207
Overall, Zero Trust is designed to help organizations better protect their networks and resources from cyber threats by limiting access to only those users and devices that have been authenticated and authorized. It is particularly useful for organizations that have a large, distributed workforce or that handle sensitive data.
Benefits of Deploying the Zero Trust Model
Using the zero trust model for your security system can come with a range of tangible benefits. To start, it can help reduce your attack surface, meaning you won’t have as many vulnerable areas for a hacker to exploit.
Secondly, this model requires you to keep track of every user and device connected to the network – from employees to internet-of-things devices.
This way, if anything suspicious pops up or a malicious attack is attempted, you’ll be able to quickly identify the responsible device and take appropriate action.
Finally, zero trust security simplifies incident response by allowing you to segment networks into different layers based on risk factors and importance. This will help reduce the number of access points and make sure that only the right people have access to sensitive data.
So what can you do to protect yourself? Implementing a zero trust security model is a good start. This means that you should never assume that someone is who they say they are, just because you have previously granted them access to certain parts of your network.
Instead, it would help if you verified their identity every time they attempt to access a resource, regardless of whether they are on or off your network.
This can be a difficult task, but fortunately, there are a number of tools and technologies that can help you to achieve it.
For example, you can use identity-based access control to verify the identity of users before granting them access to resources, and you can use security analytics to detect intrusions and malicious activity.
By implementing a zero-trust security model, you can keep your data and your systems safe from attack.
Contact the WP Hacked Help team of security experts to maintain the trust and confidence of your customers, as well as protect your business from potential cyber-attacks and hacking.