When combating threats and attacks in cyberspace, you’ll find an unending list of hardware, software, staffing solutions, and more being welcomed from time to time. And it may appear as if organizations need to maintain deep pockets to provide enough security for their resources. But what would be the fate of small and medium business owners with little funds to spare on their security infrastructure?
However, the Zero Trust principles have been shown to satisfy organizations of all levels regardless of their industry and location. It is a ‘no trust’ security strategy for those within and outside a network.
It continuously checks the activities of potential users on a corporate network to maintain its security posture. And has shown to be highly effective in keeping away the bad guys by simply assuming everyone is bad until they have proven otherwise.
Zero Trust is simply a network and security strategy that ensures every identity is authorized and repeatedly checked to keep the work environment safe. So, instead of defining an attack surface and creating a wall around it to block out potential threats, all users are expected to prove that they are worthy of having access to resources.
Zero Trust is a least-privilege strategy based on users’ and devices’ identity to provide and offers security in a way that perimeter-based security cannot. A vivid explanation of the Zero Trust concept is something like this:
You are about to enter a house, but the front door is locked. And when you finally get a key to enter the house, all the rooms are individually locked. Likewise, when you finally get a key to access a room, the closet and every part of the room are locked.
So, to get access resources, you’ll need different keys to open each part. However, zero Trust still offers a bit tighter security because it also ensures to verify periodically or blocks a user when it detects an act of compromise.
The Applegate senior vice president has reportedly backed up this security strategy saying, “The shift is necessary since most traditional network security methods are breaking down in the face of increasingly sophisticated threats and attacks on corporate networks.”
Trust is presumed and misplaced because access control is based on an outdated framework that proffers Trust to prospective users based on their physical locations. But this doesn’t meet today’s highly distributed system, with organizations continually facing increasing security challenges, mainly due to workers in dispersed locations. This situation is faced by organizations of different employee sizes.
Zero Trust grants access based on context and identity policies which are automatically and dynamically implemented upon every access and around different resources departments.
In the traditional ‘perimeter security model, only the primary access is kept secure. Concerning the previous analogy, only the house’s main door entrance and windows are kept secure with locks. And once a user has been given access through the main door, they can access anything at any time within the building without being restricted. In essence, a prospective user with a malicious intentions only needed to break through one security lock to carry out plans unrestricted.
When an organization moves to the Zero Trust model, they treat every access request—from individuals, laptops, printers, networks, and departmental databases—as untrusted while providing optimal security around the intellectual property that requires protection. This approach also simplifies operating a remote system as the model regards every workforce the same as the untrusted internet.
Organizations can deploy the Zero Trust model on various levels of a computer system, networking, storage, program execution, and others, to control access to resources.
The administrator specifies a set of rules to highlight permitted activities. Then, the software will evaluate every activity against the rules to determine if it is permitted and should be offered access. And if it is not, it blocks the activity.
An IT expert suggests that businesses should divide their Zero Trust network into different levels of Trust. These levels should be categorized based on how sensitive the resources are, and it should restrict employee access to only a specific segment or level.
Business owners should consider deploying the least-privilege access model in their Zero trust framework. With this, only users or employees specifically entitled to resources will receive access to carry out their given task, rather than making access available to diverse users, which can result in some serious security posture.
Implementing Zero Trust security depends on your company and its goals. You can analyze your company size, resources, critical data and assets, and IT budget to decide which measure or approach will be most valuable to you. The main idea is to think about the overall approach instead of the individual solution.
Many vendors flaunting Zero Trust solutions do not actually offer a comprehensive model. Instead, they only offer elements in the solution.
Zero Trust requires sophisticated access control to data, hardware, and applications. Applications should be designed to maximize resistance to potential attacks, including physical and operational security, such as threat detection and nullification.
However, these requirements may exceed many small businesses’ budgets. But then, businesses of all sizes can still benefit from the Zero Trust model in various affordable and manageable ways.
Traditional systems focus on the attack surface, but the modern approach differs. This perimeter-based approach requires that you create a security perimeter around your entire network and keep away sensitive and vulnerable systems as far as possible.
However, Zero Trust focuses on specific or individual items that need to be secured. Therefore, the protection surface should include the most critical aspects of your enterprise, such as data, applications, assets, and services (DAAS).
You’ll customize each Zero Trust network around the protected surfaces. Once you have defined the protect surface, define documented traffic flows and interdependencies and create the network architecture.
For example, you could consider a next-generation firewall to segment and monitor traffic and enforce access control on all layers of the Open Systems Interconnection (OSI) model—a model that references how applications communicate over a network.
Your Zero Trust policies should revolve around who should be authorized to use resources, which application is to be considered, when resources should be accessed, where the resource is located, why the resources need to be accessed, and how the access should be granted.
As a final step, monitor the protected surface and conduct frequent log reviews to reaffirm the Zero trust operations function correctly. Utilize gathered information from the network to improve your Zero Trust security framework’s next iteration and op