What is Zero Trust?
Learn about the benefits of Zero Trust and how to implement a Zero Trust security architecture.
In This Article
Digital transformation, cloud adoption and remote working have created the perfect storm that breaks the legacy architecture of a perimeter-based security model.
Cloud computing has pushed data, users and devices outside of the trusted corporate network. Organizations must respond with the appropriate security measures to eliminate vulnerabilities in this new environment.
Zero Trust security is the answer to this challenge.
Zero Trust allows access to an organization's network from anywhere without compromising the ability to stay compliant with fast-changing privacy regulations. It's essential in today's work-from-anywhere world.
What is Zero Trust?
Zero Trust is an IT security framework that provides secure access to applications and services based on defined access control policies, whether a user is inside or outside an organization's network. Besides being authenticated, authorized users must be continuously validated for their security configurations and postures before being granted access to data and applications.
Zero Trust is a series of concepts and involves the orchestration of many products across various pillars (e.g., user, data, devices, network, application, automation) to deliver a unified architecture. Because it works for infrastructure with no traditional network edge, you can apply the framework to local networks, the cloud and anything in between.
Why is Zero Trust important?
Zero Trust focuses on securing a company’s digital assets and preventing a breach. Here are the key benefits of a Zero Trust architecture compared with a legacy security architecture:
Reduce attack surface
Zero Trust mitigates the risks associated with the increase in attack surface caused by the adoption of cloud computing and remote working. It uses micro-segmentation to define micro-perimeters close to the data source, thereby eliminating the broad lateral movement found in many legacy architectures.
Limit access to sensitive data
Zero Trust components positively authenticate and authorize users and their devices to reach approved applications and information. This means the least privileged access model grants users access to data on a need-to-know basis. You can make company assets invisible to unauthorized users with the right technical solution. Since threat actors can’t attack what they can’t see, you can minimize the damage of a breach by limiting what can be accessed.
Assess risks continuously
Unlike legacy architectures, a Zero Trust solution can dynamically assess the security risk of users, devices and services to mitigate risks that may occur post-authentication. It can shut down access if a resource falls below what the organization deems as an acceptable risk level.
Implementing Zero Trust security
To address today's threat environment, you need to start with a Zero Trust mindset:
- Assume all network traffic and requests for critical resources may be malicious.
- Assume all infrastructure and devices may be compromised.
- Accept that all access approvals to critical resources can incur risks.
- Be prepared to perform damage assessment, control and recovery operations.
- Implement aggressive system monitoring, system management and defensive operations.
Zero Trust comprises various technical attributes that allow organizations to address the highest risk areas efficiently. An effective Zero Trust security framework should offer:
- A security-first design: Reduces risks through isolated network virtualization, granular separation of duties and least privileged access.
- Automated threat mitigation and remediation: Decreases the complexity of implementing security measures while preventing human errors.
- Continuous and always-on security measures: Includes default-enabled and ubiquitous encryption, continuous monitoring of user behaviors, and context-aware adaptive authentication.
However, not every organization can instantly replace a legacy security architecture with a fully mature and optimized Zero Trust one. As such, we have laid out a logical path to provide our customers with a blueprint to mature their Zero Trust architecture over time.
For example, many companies start with enterprise segmentation in the data center to address lateral movement. Then, they'd evolve the architecture to address the contextual components of Zero Trust.
Standards organizations, such as NIST, regularly publish architectural blueprints on how to build out Zero Trust architectures. We are positioned to align closely with these standards and support the practical execution of Zero Trust with short, agile workstreams.
Ready to take the next step in Zero Trust security?
In our complimentary Zero Trust briefing, we'll explore the capabilities and benefits of a Zero Trust architecture, along with vendor-specific capabilities and innovations. We'll work with your key stakeholders to understand your long-term vision and discuss strategies to secure your environment.