NetworkSecurity

How To Implement A Zero Trust Network

In recent years, the traditional security perimeter has all but disappeared. Employees are no longer tied to their desks; they work from anywhere, anytime, using various devices. The network is no longer the private domain of the organization; it’s shared with customers, partners, and other users. And hackers are no longer content to attack only external targets; they’re just as likely to go after the weakest link in the chain: the user.

In this new world of work, tenure and trust are no longer reliable risk indicators. The old approach to security—which relied on identifying and protecting a well-defined perimeter—is no longer adequate. Organizations need a new approach: zero trust to stay ahead of today’s sophisticated threats.

What Is Zero Trust Network?

The Zero Trust model is a security approach that assumes that all users and devices inside and outside of a network cannot be automatically trusted. Instead, it requires strict adherence to identity verification, device management, and secure access protocols. This contrasts with traditional network security models, which rely on creating a strong perimeter to protect the internal network.

In the modern age of remote work and BYOD (bring-your-own-device), many organizations are turning to the Zero Trust architecture model for more robust security. By constantly authenticating access requests and utilizing encrypted communication channels, the Zero Trust model helps to prevent unauthorized access and critical data breaches. Implementing a Zero Trust network allows organizations to stay one step ahead in today’s increasingly complex cyber threat landscape.

The Benefits Of Zero Trust Networking

Zero Trust Networking is a term for security models that don’t rely on predefined trust levels. It’s a departure from the “default allow” or “default deny” models of the past, where all traffic was either allowed or denied based on the source IP address. Instead, in a Zero Trust model, each request is evaluated on its merits.

This is a more effective way to secure data because it doesn’t rely on static IP addresses that can be spoofed. It also means that the network has no “blind spots” because all traffic is inspected. There are several benefits of Zero Trust Networking, including:

Increased Security

By evaluating each request on its own merits, rather than blindly trusting traffic from certain IP addresses, you can be sure that only legitimate traffic is getting through. This reduces the chances of data breaches and other security threats in the entire network.

Reduced Complexity

In a traditional network security model, you must keep track of which IP addresses are trusted and which aren’t. This can get complicated quickly, especially as devices move around or new devices are added to the network. With Zero Trust Networking, there is no need to maintain a list of trusted IP addresses because all traffic flows are inspected regardless of source. This can simplify administration and reduce the chances of human error.

Greater Visibility

Because all traffic is inspected, you have visibility into all activity on the network. This can help with troubleshooting and identifying potential security threats.

It can also help identify user behavior patterns to optimize the network for better performance.

For example, if you see that users frequently access certain resources from specific locations at certain times, you can adjust the network accordingly to improve performance.

Introducing Zero Trust: Seven Steps To Improved Security

Zero trust network access is a security model that assumes that all users, devices, applications, and servers are untrusted until proven otherwise. In a zero-trust environment, every user and every session is authenticated and authorized before being given access to resources. No one is automatically trusted just because they’re inside the network perimeter.

With zero trust, security isn’t added on as an afterthought; it’s built into every aspect of the system from the ground up. By adopting a zero-trust approach, organizations can improve their security posture by making it more difficult for attackers to exploit vulnerabilities, reducing their attack surface area and limiting access, and increasing visibility into what’s happening on their networks.

Implementing a zero trust strategy is not a silver bullet; it’s an ongoing process that requires careful planning and execution. Here are seven steps to getting started:

Build A Dedicated Team

As with any major initiative, implementing zero trust requires buy-in from senior management and a clear understanding of who will be responsible for what. The best way to achieve this is to form a dedicated zero-trust team with representatives from all relevant departments, such as IT security, networking, application development, and information governance.

Forming a dedicated zero-trust team is an important step in effectively implementing this concept throughout an organization. This team can create and enforce policies, monitor compliance, and identify vulnerabilities. Without dedicated oversight, it can be easy for employees to accidentally compromise security measures or fail to follow guidelines to access controls. A committed zero-trust team ensures that proper steps are always in place to protect the organization’s data and systems.

Choose An Implementation On-Ramp

There are many ways to implement zero trust, so choosing an on-ramp that makes sense for your organization is important. Choosing the right zero-trust implementation on-ramp is crucial for the success of a zero trust network. The on-ramp helps organizations assess their current security posture and determine what steps they need to take to adopt zero trust principles fully. It also guides on implementing access policies, user behavior analytics, and multifactor authentication.

Additionally, an on-ramp can help identify gaps in technology and processes, ensuring that all potential vulnerabilities are addressed. In short, a zero trust on-ramp allows organizations to transition smoothly to a more secure network environment. As such, carefully selecting the right on-ramp is important in successfully implementing zero trust. To get started, you might want to consider adopting a cloud-based services security platform or using identity management tools to help automate the process of onboarding new users and devices to avoid cyber threats.

Environment Assessment

Before implementing zero trust, you must clearly understand your organization’s current security posture. This means thoroughly assessing your network infrastructure, applications, data stores, and user authentication mechanisms.

It also involves understanding the various network pathways and determining which resources should have restricted access. Furthermore, assessing the environment helps identify potential vulnerabilities and weak points that need to be addressed to implement zero trust properly. By taking the time to assess the environment thoroughly, organizations can ensure a successful transition to a zero trust model.

Review The Technologies

In recent years, the concept of “zero trust” has become a popular strategy for cybersecurity. Rather than trusting insiders and devices by default, zero trust means always verifying users’ identity and access level before granting them access to certain systems or data. But what technology should organizations use to implement this approach? Two popular options are multifactor authentication and privilege access management (PAM).

Multifactor authentication requires a username and password and a device or biometric verification such as a fingerprint scan. PAM goes further by granting temporary, limited access to specific resources based on pre-set parameters and monitoring user behavior to ensure compliance with policies. Reviewing these available technologies can help organizations determine which would work best for implementing zero trust in their network infrastructure.

Launch Key Zero-Trust Initiatives

Once you’ve selected the technologies you’ll use to implement zero trust, you need to start rolling them out across your organization. This might involve deploying MFA for all users, setting up UAM for critical applications, or implementing AWL for all devices.

Implementing a zero-trust model in an organization can significantly improve security and prevent unauthorized access to sensitive data. However, it can also be a daunting task to navigate. Therefore, businesses must identify key processes and launch key zero-trust initiatives to implement the model successfully.

These may include training employees on proper identification and verification processes, implementing multifactor authentication for logins, regularly reviewing and updating policies and procedures, and consistently monitoring network activity. By taking these proactive measures, businesses can ensure that they are effectively utilizing the principles of zero trust to protect their enterprise network assets and information.

Define Operational Changes 

In the modern age of digital technology, the traditional model of assuming all internal network users can be trusted is no longer effective. The concept of “zero trust” involves verifying users’ identity and access rights rather than automatically granting trust based on their location within a network.

Implementing zero trust requires operational changes such as continuously monitoring and reassessing user access privileges, implementing multifactor authentication for sensitive data, and encrypting all communication channels. It may also involve restructuring network architecture to isolate and restrict sensitive data and systems access. Adopting a zero-trust approach can help prevent unauthorized access and protect against a potential breach. These changes should be documented and communicated to all relevant stakeholders.

Rinse And Repeat 

The concept of a “zero trust” security model means that no one and nothing is automatically trusted on a network or networked device. This model can greatly enhance the overall security of a system, but implementing it can be time-consuming and potentially overwhelming. However, success lies in constantly reassessing and adjusting your security measures. It’s important to thoroughly implement zero trust principles in each aspect of your network, but it’s equally important to regularly review and update these measures.

Once you have implemented zero trust, “rinse and repeat” becomes part of your security routine. You repeatedly review and update your zero trust measures to ensure your network remains as secure as possible. Additionally, continuously revisiting and strengthening your zero trust practices as new threats and vulnerabilities arise allows you to address them before they can cause harm effectively. In short, implementing zero trust is just the first step – be prepared to rinse and repeat for continued success in protecting your network.

What Are The 7 Core Zero Trust Pillars?

Zero Trust security is based on seven core pillars: identity security, endpoint security, application security, data security, visibility and analytics, automation, and infrastructure security. Here, we’ll take a more in-depth look at each of these pillars and how they work together to create a robust Zero Trust security strategy.

Identity Security

The first pillar of Zero Trust security is identity security. This refers to the process of verifying the identities of users and devices before granting them access to sensitive resources. Organizations must have a strong authentication system that can accurately verify users’ identities to do this. They must also have a way to track and manage user activity to detect and investigate any suspicious behavior quickly.

Endpoint Security

The second pillar of Zero Trust security is endpoint security. This refers to the need to secure all endpoints—laptops, smartphones, and servers—that connect to an organization’s network. To do this, organizations must implement robust endpoint protection solutions that can detect and block malware, viruses, and other threats. They should also consider using encrypted communications to protect data in transit.

Application Security

The third pillar of Zero Trust security is application security. This refers to the need to secure all web-based and local applications used within an organization. Organizations must ensure that all applications are properly patched and updated with the latest security fixes. They should also consider implementing application whitelisting to prevent unauthorized applications from running on company devices.

Data Security

The fourth pillar of Zero Trust security is data security. This refers to the need to protect all organizational data—both at rest and in transit—from unauthorized access and theft. To do this, organizations must encrypt all sensitive data using strong encryption algorithms. They should also consider implementing role-based access control (RBAC) to limit users’ access to data sets.

Visibility And Analytics

The fifth pillar of Zero Trust security is visibility and analytics. This refers to the need for organizations to have visibility into all activity on their network to detect and investigate any suspicious behavior quickly.

To do this, organizations must implement a comprehensive network monitoring solution that can generate real-time alerts for unusual activity. Additionally, they should consider investing in a SIEM solution to centralize logs from multiple sources for easier analysis.

Automation

In a Zero Trust system, all security-related tasks should be automated as much as possible. By automating routine tasks, we can free security personnel to focus on more important tasks. Additionally, automated systems are more efficient and consistent than manual ones, thus reducing the chances of human error.

Infrastructure Security

A company’s physical infrastructure should be secure to protect its digital assets. This includes everything from the building to the computers and routers used by employees. Access to sensitive areas should be controlled and monitored, and only authorized personnel should be allowed access. Physical security measures should be combined with logical measures such as firewalls and intrusion detection systems.

How Does A Zero Trust Network Work?

A Zero Trust network operates on the principle of verifying user and device identity before granting access to a network or resource. This means constantly monitoring network traffic, denying access to unknown devices, and limiting access to known devices to only the specific resources they need.

All users and devices are treated as untrusted, eliminating the idea of a trusted internal network. This approach greatly reduces the risk of a breach, as hackers cannot simply exploit a weakly-protected internal network. Organizations can also easily adjust permissions for users and devices as needed, adding another layer of security. Overall, a Zero Trust network offers a more secure alternative to traditional perimeter-based security measures.

How Many Steps Make A Zero Trust Network?

A Zero Trust network is a cybersecurity approach in which every user, device, and network must be verified before being granted access. This approach differs from traditional networks, which usually include a perimeter-based defense that assumes all internal users and devices can be trusted.

The Zero Trust model involves several steps in verifying identity and access rights, including continuous authentication and identification, enforcement of least privilege access, verification of device health and networks, segmentation of resources and data, continuous monitoring for threats and vulnerabilities, and leveraging analytics to inform decisions. Each of these steps works together to ensure the security of zero trust access.

Additionally, this approach can enable more efficient resource use through granular access control and automation. Overall, while implementing a Zero Trust network requires careful planning and effort, it can significantly enhance the security of an organization’s network.

How Do I Create A Zero Trust Network?

Before diving into creating a Zero Trust network, it’s important to understand the concept behind it. Zero Trust essentially means that no user, device, or connection is automatically trusted and given access – instead, authorization must be continuously verified throughout a network. How does one create such a network? It starts with implementing a robust identity and access management system for verifying user identities.

Next, segmenting the network into micro-perimeters can limit damage from potential intrusions. Finally, utilizing multifactor authentication and continually monitoring network activity can ensure that only authorized users and devices have access. Implementing these steps can help create a secure Zero Trust wireless network.

Summing Up!

If you are a  business owner, you should consider implementing a Zero Trust network to better protect your company’s digital assets. This approach can be more secure than traditional perimeter-based security and enable more efficient use of resources. We hope this guide has helped you better understand Zero Trust networks and how to create one.

Derik Belair

As President and CEO, Derik leads the vision, strategy and growth of Augmentt. Prior to founding Augmentt, Derik was the Vice President at SolarWinds, leading the digital marketing strategy for SolarWinds’ Cloud division. Derik has been working in the channel for over 20 years, starting his career as a channel sales rep at Corel Corp. and eventually becoming the first employee at N-able Technologies in April of 2000.

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