Utilizing Current Technology to Achieve Zero-Trust Security

Enterprise Security Magazine | Saturday, January 22, 2022

A zero-trust security architecture can be utilized instantly to solve present deficiencies and create a secure basis for managing risk from internal and external threats in the future.

FREMONT, CA: Zero trust is at the top of the agenda of every CIO and CISO, typically to overcome the obstacles posed by old security practices in today's modern IT environment. Cybersecurity Insiders reports that only 15 percent of firms have implemented a zero-trust strategy by the end of 2019, while more than 50 percent aim to do so in the future. Increasing numbers of organizations are transitioning to a zero-trust security model, but few are achieving this objective.

Before the recent past, enterprises primarily relied on network access and segmentation to separate trusted internal network traffic from untrusted external network traffic. However, once a malicious actor crosses the network's perimeter, the entire network's data may be at risk. Through investigation and post-mortems, a clear pattern has emerged: the most severe data breaches occur when attackers acquire access to the corporate network. Once attackers access the network through a system flaw, compromised credentials, or a firewall hole, they can proceed undetected into other internal systems.

Time to board the train to zero-trust adoption: Enterprises are seeking ways to restrict the lateral mobility of attackers within the corporate environment. In today's reality, network segmentation and least-privilege network access are insufficient. The COVID-19 epidemic has hastened the use of SaaS, which has resulted in the placement of vital data outside of conventional network borders.

Herein lies the utility of the zero-trust security concept. Zero trust presupposes that there are untrustworthy users on both sides of the boundary. There is no unquestionable faith in anything within or beyond the business landscape with this strategy. Before granting access, any device or user attempting to connect to internal business systems must be verified. Zero trust also necessitates governance practices that impose a least-privilege approach, in which users are permitted the minimum amount of access necessary to complete a given task. To accomplish this, organizations frequently employ many technologies, including multifactor authentication, identity and access management, network access control, and encryption.

Monitoring and inspecting all requests, not just those arriving from the outside, is a crucial feature of the zero-trust strategy. Even with the least privilege access in place, privileged users will always have access to sensitive data in the system, making their accounts vulnerable to configuration changes and data loss. Consequentially, regular monitoring and analysis of user behaviors are essential to ensure that any possible threats can be identified and mitigated promptly.

Zero trust is a model that all companies with sensitive data should consider. Government entities frequently set the bar, as they are the most frequent targets of cyberattacks, but the private sector should also adopt the strategies they deploy. Whether it be consumer data, employee data, financial data, or intellectual property, zero-trust principles ensure the security of essential assets. Inevitably, malicious actors will compromise a device or credential, and the consequences will depend on how successfully the business has implemented least privilege access and restricted the capabilities of compromised devices and credentials.

The network alone is insufficient to protect data: Implementing a zero-trust model across identities, networks, devices, and applications can differentiate between a small hack with minimal harm and a massive event resulting in the loss of vital data. Any organization unsure about the usefulness of zero trust should begin by auditing its identities, networks, devices, and apps. They will undoubtedly discover instances of shadow IT, zombie accounts, and overprivileged users that pose obvious and present hazards.

A zero-trust mentality can instantly address existing weaknesses and lay the groundwork for future risk management. With zero trust, the objective is a continual improvement by reducing risk exposure over time, understanding that some risks may always exist but that fewer risks are always preferable to more.