Zero trust architecture is a cybersecurity solution you can implement to stay safe from malicious activity. This security model aims to authenticate all the user accounts, devices, and traffic in your organizational infrastructure to eliminate implicit trust and validate all interaction steps.
Read the article until the end to learn about implementing zero trust and best practices to improve your organization’s security posture.
How Does Zero Trust Architecture Work?
Zero Trust Architecture is a security approach that assumes all the networks, systems, and users in a structure are untrusted. Continuous verification and authentication of users, devices, and applications are required to ensure no lateral movement inside the system.
This security model scans the internal and external communication before giving authority to access the resources. Moreover, the service and user activity are monitored regularly to ensure the system is secure.
Zero Trust Network works in four steps:
The system creates an inventory of systems, resources, and software to detect abnormalities or malicious activities.
Zero trust authenticates and authorizes the configuration, software, hardware, and firmware to perform integrity checks.
Zero trust identifies a system’s malicious activity, viruses, and threats.
After the detection of the threat, Zero trust network access handles it and removes the mitigation from the section of the network.
Key Elements Of The Zero Trust Security Model
The evaluation of Zero trust principles depends on three basic elements. They are important for efficiently deploying the Zero Trust security system in a corporate network. Here’s all you need to know about them.
Traditional security networks are not aware of anything happening inside the structure. This means they only look for external threats to the system while the knowledge of interior ones is missing. They work assuming that the user has already passed the authentication process and is authorized to use all network components. In traditional security, the inside perimeters are malware free and safe.
Anyone aware of security networks must know that the flaws inside the model can be present. Many situations arise when the events happening inside the system are some malware activity. For instance, if an attacker has passed the authentication and entered the system, nothing can detect it.
However, this is different in the case of Zero Trust Architecture. In this security model, everything can be malicious, even if scanned frequently. Therefore, the system does not compromise trust and verifies users, devices, and networks at each step.
Multifactor Authentication MFA
Multifactor authentication MFA refers to using other sources to authenticate in combination with the passwords. For example, the system might ask the users to scan their fingerprints or enter the pin code sent to their mobile phones. This eliminates the hackers with stolen credentials and verifies that the attacker cannot access the system and sensitive data.
Zero Trust system uses MFA as a double-check security system to ensure that the person who claims to be the user is correct and the transactions are secure.
Traditional security systems cannot detect the lateral movement of the malware inside the system. It means that they can scan only the entry points of the hackers into the system but cannot scan their activity inside it. It means that if a hacker breaks into the system, the movement to each device or component of the system is possible.
Zero Trust Architecture divides the various components of the system into partitions to isolate them from one another. It allows the organization to layer security measures like firewalls or authorization systems for enhanced security. This helps to access the system at a granular level so that the attacker cannot find the lateral weakness of the system.
As networks are divided into compartments, infection in one device or user can be removed from the rest through micro-segmentation. Zero Trust Security involves micro-segmentation of the network to cover security needs.
Zero-Trust Network Approaches
Implementing zero trust inside an organizational infrastructure is possible in many ways. We have highlighted some primary ways to implement the Zero trust security model.
Great Identity Governance
The identity of users and devices is the most important factor in making security policies in a system. Each user should have limited access to the resources based on their identity and the tasks assigned. So, the main efficiency of implementing Zero Trust architecture is providing the users and devices with appropriate access to the related resources. No unnecessary success should be given to anyone because the attacker might be sitting inside your organization.
Micro-segmentation allows the Zero Trust security system to eliminate the users from the group of resources and make them resource-specific. It secures the gateways between the segments. An attacker entering one segment is restricted there until caught or detected.
The best thing about micro-segmentation is that it grants access to a limited part of the network infrastructure. Organizations can employ next-generation firewalls, policy enforcement points (PEP), and software agents to protect their resources, adding an extra layer of security.
Software-based Network Perimeters
Software-defined networking technology (SDN) allows network management using virtual appliances and flexible devices. Software-defined Perimeter (SDP) helps to overlay SDN at the application layer and lowers the network stack.
Zero Trust Best Practices
Here are some best practices for building zero trust architecture for having an efficient security model for your organization:
Know Your Architecture
While creating a zero-trust environment in your organization, it is important to know about the network topology and the number of users and devices in it. Understanding your assets and mapping out which users have access to the specific devices and service data that they are using is crucial to building a secure zero-trust system.
Your special attention to the network components will help you understand the structure. Moreover, take complete information about the existing structure that supports zero trust architecture or is not designed for it. This will help you determine whether they would be secured after implementing Zero Trust or not and the security tools needed for zero trust deployment.
Robust Identity Creation
The integral practice of Zero Trust Architecture employment is demining the service identity. It creates a basis for device verification, authentication, and authorization. So, the device identity should be strong and unique. The identity should be related to the device rather than the user. Moreover, the devices should be able to be identified even when they are behind a NAT device or not connected to the network.
Devices in the system must be verifiable by your network. A single identity is enough. The device should not be able to claim more than one identity that doesn’t belong to it. This will decrease the likelihood of attacker entry. The device identity should remain the same throughout the architecture implementation. Moreover, its identity should remain the same even if the device is replaced or repurposed.
The devices you have in your organizational infrastructure should be verifiable, and it should be possible to check their usage. Moreover, they should be able to be verified across the network. A device should be able to retain the same identity if connected to a different network.
Secure Communication Channel Creation
Zero Trust architecture requires the channels to be secure and trusted. Strong communication between the devices eliminates replay attacks, eavesdropping, and message modification. The communication channel between two devices is directed to exchange integral, confidential, and authentic messages and support no abandonment in use cases.
The communication channels must protect against denial of service attacks (DOS). They must provide complete authorization of user excess, which means if a user tries to access a channel not authorized, the access must be blocked.
Moreover, the communication channels should be able to provide complete authorization of devices. The access is promptly blocked if a client tries to add an unauthorized device to the network. Also, monitoring the location, time, and user’s device is possible when the communication channel is properly built. Therefore, the successful deployment of robust communication across the network is necessary for zero-trust architecture.
Network segmentation is crucial for the Zero trust model. The entire system depends on the segmentation, and security control is only possible in zero trust when the network is segmented. It is done to protect sensitive data and services from unauthorized user access. Communication between networks is also an important aspect of zero-trust best practices.
The implementation of segmentation can be made possible by security controls like firewalls, VLANs, IDS, and IPS. They can protect the organizational data from internal and external threats by scanning each segment and preventing lateral movement inside the system.
The segmentation can serve as a security strategy to control access permissions and save the security framework from unusual or malicious activity. Users are only granted access to the sections that are related to them. This keeps the enterprise network safe from cyber threats.
Zero Trust Approach Benefits
Traditional security models have many drawbacks that are covered by zero-trust architecture. Here are some pros that make zero trust the best fit for enterprise needs.
Zero trust architecture divides the network, users, and devices into segments to limit the activity and lateral moment. This helps the security team to restrict the users to their related departments and have access to the part of the network related to their enterprise.
Multi-Factor Authentication MFA
Multifactor authentication of users enhances the system’s security from suspicious events and data protection from outside attackers. Users are not only required to put in credentials for getting in but also to enter a pin or code received on the mobile device.
Users, devices, and networks are continuously monitored in zero-trust security. Traditional systems only scan the outer part of the system, but external threats remain hindered. Zero trust scans the users, devices, and data sources multiple times, creating a prompt threat response.
Zero trust offers the least privilege to the user accounts and prevents data loss by limiting network activity based on an implicit trust strategy. It works on a software-defined perimeter and scans all the external networks and local network-connected devices to build a trust framework. A strong device identity, robust communication between segments, and proper knowledge of your architecture can help you create an efficient zero-trust system for your company.