Zero-trust is a cybersecurity strategy that requires users to be verified, approved, and constantly authenticated for security configuration and presence before being granted access to applications and data. The zero-trust framework works on the principle that no user or application shall be trusted by default, regardless of the network and resources spread across any location.
Given the modern digital revolution, zero-trust is a framework to secure infrastructure and data. It inimitably tackles the business challenges associated with securing a remote workforce, cloud environments, and threats such as ransomware.
Zero-Trust Model Principles
Zero-trust is not limited to user identities, partitions, and protected access. It is a strategy to build a cyber secure environment. The following action plans govern it:
· Break all connections: Typically, firewalls use a passthrough method to inspect files as they are being transferred across a network. If a risky file is detected, the notification usually comes too late. An effective zero-trust solution stops every connection to inspect all traffic, including the encrypted traffic, immediately before the file reaches its destination.
· Apply granular, context-based policies to protect data: Zero-trust policy monitors access requests and permissions based on context, with the user identity, device, location, type of content, and the requested application. Policies are flexible, so user access rights are re-evaluated per the context.
· Minimize risk associated with the attack: With a zero-trust system, users connect directly to the applications and resources they need without needing a network. Therefore, user-to-application and application-to-application connections eliminate the risk of component movement and prevent infected devices from infecting other devices.
Through limited access control and user authentication, zero-trust security policy is implemented not on assumptions but on established conditions. With a well-established zero-trust architecture, network infrastructure is uncomplicated, user experience is improved, and cyber threats are better protected.
The zero-trust architecture follows the ‘never trust, always verify’ maxim. As an architecture not based on trust, the zero-trust model enforces contextual access policies that consider a user’s role, location, device, and the requested data to prevent unapproved environmental access. The network is no longer the most critical factor in the security posture of a resource. Rather than rigid network segmentation, software-defined micro-segmentation protects data, workflows, services, and so on, regardless of whether the user is working in a data center or on a hybrid or multi-cloud network.
Implementing a zero-trust architecture requires visibility and control over users and traffic in the environment, including hidden ones, verifying and monitoring traffic between parts of the environment, and robust multi-factor authentication methods such as biometrics or one-time codes other than passwords.
Benefits of the Zero-Trust Model
PII, intellectual property (IP), and financial data are among the business-critical and sensitive data that can be stolen, destroyed, or ransomed in today's cloud environments.
There is no perfect security strategy, and data breaches will never be eradicated. However, zero trust is one of today's most influential security approaches. By reducing the attack surface and minimizing cyberattack impact and severity, zero-trust reduces the time and cost of responding to breaches.
Zero-trust network architecture protects remote user environments and IoT devices from anomalies, such as attempts to access restricted data and downloads of unusual amounts of data. As today's IT environments become more cloud-based, endpoint-based, and data-centric, we must not trust any connection without proper verification. In addition, IT and security from administrative to CISO levels will benefit from increased visibility.
Here are some reasons to implement a zero-trust cybersecurity model.
1. Reduce business risk
Zero-trust reduces risk by identifying what is on the network and how those assets communicate. The zero-trust model prevents all applications and services from communicating until they are determined by their unique, immutable resources that meet predefined trust standards, such as authentication and authorization. As the zero-trust model continuously checks the credentials of each communication device thereby, it reduces the surface-level risk.
2. Gain access control across cloud and container environments
Access control and loss of visibility are security professionals' concerns when transitioning to the cloud. Despite the cloud service provider‘s security improvements, service-level security is still a responsibility between a business and its cloud service provider.
A zero-trust security architecture enforces security policies based on the characteristics of communicating workloads and tied directly to the workloads themselves. This keeps security around the resources that need security while remaining unaffected by network architecture, such as IP addresses, ports, and protocols. Hence, protection follows the scope of work and remains constant even when environmental changes occur.
3. Reduce data breach risks
The least privilege principle assumes that every user is a potential threat. Therefore, each request is scrutinized, devices and the users validated, and permissions evaluated before being trusted. Trust-based access is constantly re-evaluated as the context changes, such as the user's location or the data viewed.
4. Encourage compliance
Zero-trust protects users in a network and service connections from being exposed or exploited. As a result of this invisible vulnerability, compliance with privacy standards and regulations, such as PCI-DSS, is easier to demonstrate, and audits are less likely to uncover it.
Implementing a zero-trust model allows you to create a shield around sensitive data, such as payment cards, using granular controls to separate structured and unstructured data. In case of a data breach, a small domain provides greater visibility and control over access than most flat network models.
The above are some of the well-known organizational principles that can help your organization support zero trust.
When designing a zero-trust architecture, the IT team should know what and who requires protection. Technology and procedures should be pushed onto your strategy to achieve maximum results. This will form the basis of the process of creating your security architecture.
The process of trusting more can also be broken down into steps, starting with your most important assets and working your way down. Zero trust solutions are highly effective in reducing risk and enhancing security for enterprises and start-ups. At QueryPie, we have created a zero-trust infrastructure to meet our security needs. Our cybersecurity experts provide consultation for zero-trust implementation and cloud-native security to enhance security and enable compliance. Connect with us today to learn more about how we are helping companies stabilize their security using zero-trust implementation.