Authenticate and verify the identity of users and devices The zero trust security model, also known as zero trust architecture (ZTA), and sometimes known as perimeterless security, describes an approach to the strategy, design and implementation of IT systems. The main concept behind the zero trust security model is “never trust, always verify,” which means that users and devices should not be trusted by default, even if they are connected to a permissioned network such as a corporate LAN and even if they were previously verified. ZTA is implemented by establishing strong identity verification, validating device compliance prior to granting access, and ensuring least privilege access to only explicitly authorized resources. Most modern corporate networks consist of many interconnected zones, cloud services and infrastructure, connections to remote and mobile environments, and connections to non-conventional IT, such as IoT devices.
The principles of zero trust can be applied to data access, and to the management of data. This brings about zero trust data security where every request to access the data needs to be authenticated dynamically and ensure least privileged access to resources. In order to determine if access can be granted, policies can be applied based on the attributes of the data, who the user is, and the type of environment using Attribute-Based Access Control (ABAC). This zero-trust data security approach can protect access to the data.
Key principles include:
Attempting to access resources. This often involves multi-factor authentication (MFA) and strong access controls.
Least Privilege Access:
Grant users and systems the minimum level of access required to perform their tasks. This limits the potential damage an attacker can do if they compromise an account or device.
Divide the network into smaller, isolated segments or zones, often using network segmentation techniques such as VLANs or software-defined networking (SDN). This limits lateral movement of attackers within the network.
Continuously monitor network traffic, user behavior, and device health to detect anomalies and potential security threats. This may involve the use of intrusion detection systems (IDS) and security information and event management (SIEM) tools.
Strict Access Control:
Implement strict access controls and policies based on the principle of “need-to-know” or “need-to-use.” Access is dynamically granted or revoked based on changing security conditions and user behavior.
Use encryption to protect data in transit and at rest, ensuring that even if an attacker gains access to the network, they can’t easily decipher sensitive information.
User and Device Authentication:
Require user and device authentication for every access attempt, regardless of whether it’s from inside or outside the network.
Isolation and Containment:
If suspicious activity is detected, isolate and contain affected devices or users to prevent the lateral spread of threats.
Continually assess and update security policies and configurations based on the evolving threat landscape and changes in technology.
Use automation and orchestration to streamline security processes and response actions, making it easier to adapt to new threats and vulnerabilities.
Zero Trust can be implemented using a variety of technologies and tools, including identity and access management (IAM) systems, network segmentation solutions, next-generation firewalls, endpoint security tools, and continuous monitoring and analytics platforms. It’s important to note that Zero Trust is not a specific product or technology but rather a security mindset and strategy.
Implementing a Zero Trust model can significantly enhance an organization’s security posture by reducing the attack surface and increasing overall resilience to cyber threats, especially in today’s complex and dynamic IT environments where traditional perimeter-based security measures are no longer sufficient to protect against advanced threats.