A few years ago, enterprises heavily relied on the conventional perimeter-based security architecture to safeguard their networks, systems, and confidential information. However, given the sophistication of modern attacks, which use tactics like advanced persistent threats, application-layer DDoS attacks, and zero-day vulnerabilities, that strategy is no longer adequate.
Consequently, many businesses are adopting the zero trust approach, a security model that believes trust should never be assumed, regardless of whether a device or user is inside or outside the organization.
Although zero trust promises to be a more proactive approach to security, adopting the solution comes with various obstacles that might already compromise an organization’s security before it is even in place.
Understanding the concept of zero trust
Zero trust is a security philosophy that is centered on the core idea of not automatically trusting any person or system, whether they are inside or outside the corporate network. Zero trust is not only a set of tools or a particular technology. No user or device is trusted in a zero-trust environment until their identity and security posture are confirmed. Therefore, zero trust emphasizes constant verification and stringent access constraints in order to increase security.
The zero trust strategy also relies on the least privilege principle, which states that users and systems should only be given the minimal level of access required to do their duties.
With this strategy, the attack surface is reduced, and the potential harm that a hacked user or device can perform is constrained.
The key components of zero trust and strategies for maximizing its effectiveness
The notion of least privilege emphasizes that users and systems should have only the lowest level of access required to execute their tasks. The most effective strategies for your organization to implement least privilege are highlighted below:
- Implement a default-deny policy, which prevents access by default and only grants rights that have been approved. This strategy ensures that no unneeded access is granted while reducing the attack surface.
- Reviewing and auditing user access to organizational resources on a regular basis to make sure that permissions are in line with job roles and responsibilities is a good least privilege practice. Removing access after an employee leaves the company or no longer needs it is another aspect of this technique.
- Implement segmentation: By dividing the network into isolated areas or microsegments, you can prevent attackers from moving laterally through the network. Only necessary access to certain resources should be permitted in each zone.
- Lesser authority for administrators: Administrators are not exempt from the least privilege rule. Therefore, it is important to make sure the least privilege principle applies to administrative accounts. By doing this, the likelihood of insider assaults can be checked.
Controlling who has access to resources on a network inside an organization is at the center of access management. The following are some top tips for efficient access management:
- Implementing effective multifactor authentication (MFA) systems enables networks to verify that users are who they say they are before granting them access to any resources. A successful MFA typically combines two or more authentication techniques, such as a mobile authenticator, password, facial recognition, and biometric checks.
- Utilize OAuth tools: OAuth (Open Authorization) tools can be used to improve access management in zero-trust environments. OAuth is an open standard for access delegation that offers consumers a safe way to give restricted access to other websites and applications without disclosing their login information
- Use role-based access control (RBAC): This essential element of access management entails giving rights to roles rather than to specific people. With RBAC, security teams can more easily control access across the company and make sure that workers are given specific permissions depending on their job responsibilities.
- Watch user activity: In order to spot irregularities and potential security gaps, user behavior should be constantly watched. Adopting solutions for user behavior analytics might help in spotting odd patterns of behavior that might point to a security problem.
In order to avoid unwanted access and data breaches, the zero trust framework also highlights the necessity of protecting sensitive data while it is in transit and at rest. Here are some tips for how your company can implement data protection:
Data classification: The organization’s data assets should be categorized according to how sensitive and crucial they are. Based on the classification of the data, implement access controls and encryption. Prioritize resources according to the worth of the data since not all data deserves the same level of security.
Data loss prevention should be put into practice. DLP solutions should be used to monitor and stop the unlawful sharing or leakage of sensitive data. DLP provides a technique for identifying and stopping sensitive data transfers, whether purposeful or unintentional, so that even if a user is able to obtain unauthorized access to your organization’s data, it won’t be a big deal.
Secure backup and recovery: It’s important to periodically back up important data. Additionally, make sure backups are always encrypted and stored securely. To lessen the effects of data breaches or data loss situations, always have a solid data recovery plan in place.
Select strong encryption and use the best encryption tools to implement strong encryption methods. Data that is transported across networks and data that is stored on servers, databases, or other devices should all be encrypted. Use industry-standard encryption techniques, and make sure that encryption keys are securely controlled using a centralized encryption management tool like NordLocker.
Segmenting the network
Network segmentation is another strategy your business may use to promote zero-trust adoption. Network segmentation is the process of dividing a network into more manageable, isolated zones or smaller portions in order to decrease the attack surface. The following hints can simplify the procedure:
Use zero-trust network access to implement rigorous access controls based on user identification, device posture, and contextual variables. Users and devices can only access the precise network segments and resources that they are permitted to use, thanks to ZTNA.
Segmentation for remote access should be used: Implement segmentation for remote access so that remote users can only access the resources they require to complete their activities.
Consider microsegmentation: Microsegmentation entails splitting the network down into smaller, more precise pieces as opposed to generating huge, broad portions. This method isolates each segment, allowing it to have independent security guidelines and controls. Additionally, by confining a breach inside a smaller network segment, it lessens the impact of a breach and allows for more precise access management.
Zero-trust implementation is a continuous process in real life. An organization may need to make changes to its policies, technology, and culture as a result of this security strategy. The specific tools and tactics employed can vary significantly depending on your organization’s goals, size, industry, and current infrastructure, even though the fundamentals stay the same.
The shift from traditional perimeter-based security to the zero-trust approach represents a necessary evolution in the face of increasingly sophisticated cyber threats. Zero trust is not merely a technology but a comprehensive security philosophy that emphasizes constant verification, minimal privilege, and stringent access controls. By implementing least privilege principles, access control measures, data security strategies, and network segmentation techniques, organizations can significantly enhance their security posture.
It’s important to recognize that zero trust is an ongoing process, requiring continuous adaptation and refinement to address the evolving threat landscape. The specific tools and strategies an organization chooses to implement will depend on its unique needs and circumstances, but the core principles of zero trust remain a solid foundation for modern cybersecurity. Embracing zero trust is a proactive step toward safeguarding valuable assets and sensitive information in today’s dynamic and ever-changing digital landscape.