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      Information Security

      Revolutionizing Your Cybersecurity Landscape With Zero Trust Security Architecture


      Aug 23, 2023

      5 minute read

      Security analysts understand the depth of Stephane Nappo’s saying that “Technology trust is a good thing, but control is a better one.”

      The shift to digital-first operating models is crucial for enterprises seeking growth. But at the same time maintaining strict cybersecurity standards is equally important for technological times.

      Zero trust security architecture is one of those granular safety measures that challenges the conventional ‘trust but verify’ approach for users inside and outside of the organization.

      The model rests on the assumption ‘always under attack’ and follows the principle of constant verification and authentication for every user, device, and transaction, irrespective of their connection point.

      Since the digital age has reported numerous cases of cyberattacks and data breaches, it is necessary for organizations to embrace zero trust and enhance their resilience.

      This blog post discusses the importance of zero-trust security implementation and how it can help you stay ahead in the ongoing battle against cyber threats.

      Revolutionizing Your Cybersecurity Landscape With Zero Trust Security Architecture

      What is the Theory Behind Zero Trust Security?

      At its core, zero trust security revolves around the principle of distrust. It refuses to rely on assumed trust within a network and recognizes that no internal or external entity should be automatically granted unrestricted access. Instead, the zero trust model implements rigorous access controls and micro-segmentation, breaking the network into smaller zones to minimize potential damage in case of a successful breach. Here are the model’s four main principles –

      1. Identity-Centric Approach

      In a zero-trust environment, the primary basis for granting access is the identity of users, devices, and applications. To ensure that only the right people get in, robust authentication methods like multi-factor authentication (MFA) and biometrics are used.

      2. Continuous Monitoring

      Zero trust adopts an ongoing monitoring approach and continuously evaluates the security posture of every element within the network. Behavioral analytics and machine learning algorithms scrutinize user behaviors and actions and immediately report if any suspicious activities are detected.

      3. Least Privilege Access

      Zero trust adheres to the principle of least privilege. This implies that it provides users with only the minimum necessary permissions to fulfill their designated tasks. This helps in limiting potential damage in the event of an account compromise.

      4. Micro-Segmentation

      Networks are divided into smaller segments, each protected by its own security controls. In the event of an unauthorized user breaching one segment, access to other areas is blocked, considerably reducing lateral movement opportunities for attackers.

      5. Device Access Control

      Zero trust security model subjects devices seeking access to stringent authentication procedures and mandatory identity verification. Additionally, device profiling is used to assess their trustworthiness and identify any associated risks. Consistent device health checks are conducted to ensure every connected device complies with security standards, is up-to-date, and adheres to policies.

      6. Control Lateral Movement

      The zero-trust security model implements strict access controls and segmentation, which prevents lateral movement within a business network. By isolating and segmenting different parts of the network, even if an attacker manages to compromise one area, they will face significant barriers in moving laterally to other parts. This approach significantly reduces the attack surface and limits an intruder’s ability to traverse the network undetected.

      Real-Life Illustrations of Zero Trust Security Model Implementation

      1. Google’s BeyondCorp Zero Trust Enterprise Security

      Google’s BeyondCorp exemplifies a successful implementation of the zero-trust security model. Instead of relying on VPNs and perimeter security, Google embraced an identity-centric approach, subjecting every user and device to stringent authentication and authorization processes before accessing resources. With this implementation, they have emphasized contextual awareness and ensured that access policies adapt to changing conditions.

      2. Zero Trust eXtended (ZTX) By Forrester

      Forrester Research introduced its Zero Trust eXtended (ZTX) framework. It is a comprehensive blueprint for organizations aiming to implement zero trust security across all infrastructure layers, including data, applications, networks, and devices. By integrating various technologies and security controls, ZTX enables businesses to maintain a robust and dynamic security posture.

      3. US Federal Government’s (CISA) Zero Trust Maturity Model

      The U.S. Federal Government has adopted zero trust security by releasing a memorandum on the Federal zero trust architecture strategy. It provides a roadmap to companies looking to implement the zero-trust security model. They aim to assist companies and agencies develop zero-trust strategies, manage identity and access controls, and encrypt data.

      How to Implement Zero Trust Architecture in Cyber Security?

      1. Identify the Protect Surface

      Define your attack surface. Mark the areas you need to protect and add them to your zero-trust checklist. Focus on your most critical applications, physical assets, and sensitive data that need attention. This will help you implement policies and deploy tools across those areas in your network.

      2. Understand How Traffic Flows in and Around Your Network

      The way traffic flows in and around your network is determined by the dependencies of every system. For instance, most systems need to access a database that includes information about a customer, service, or product. Access requests are, therefore, directed to this database only. Therefore, understand how the traffic is routed to your network, and then you’ll be able to implement stronger data protection mechanisms.

      3. Design a Zero Trust Network

      To design a zero-trust network around your specific ‘protect’ surface, begin with a next-generation firewall (NGFW). This firewall acts as a segmentation gateway and creates a microperimeter around your ‘protect’ surface. You can also extend the layers of inspection and access control to Layer 7 to verify access requests to resources within the ‘protect’ surface.

      4. Outline the Zero Trust Policy

      Outline your zero-trust policies around the ‘protect’ surface after you’ve designed your zero-trust network. This stage requires you to define the accessibility of your ‘protect’ surface. You can use the Kipling method to proceed further. For instance:

      a. Define who should be allowed to access a particular resource or application and at what time.
      b. What is the packet destination?
      c. Why is a particular packet trying to access a resource?

      5. Monitor & Maintain Controls

      At this stage, you can begin monitoring and assessing your network to identify potential threats. This monitoring activity will help you extract valuable insights into optimizing your network performance without compromising security. Here’s how:

      a. Reports

      The reports generated can help you regularly analyze any abnormal activity around your network. They can also determine the zero-trust architecture’s impact on the employee or system performance.

      b. Analytics

      The data pulled out from analytics provides insights on when you should ideally monitor network traffic, how the network components perform, and the user behavior patterns.

      c. Logs

      The system logs provide a permanent activity record. This record can be analyzed manually or using machine learning algorithms to identify patterns and irregularities.

      Wrapping Up

      The zero-trust security model indicates a transformative shift in how organizations approach cybersecurity and challenge the concept of implicit trust. Incorporating it into your organization will help you:

      a. Bolster Your Cybersecurity Strategies
      b. Safeguard Sensitive Data
      c. Proactively Respond to Potential Threats
      d. Ensure the Resilience and Integrity of Digital Assets

      Ready to Transform the Cybersecurity Scenario of Your Organization? Get Started Today!

      Our cybersecurity experts can help you learn more about zero-trust security and implement the model in your organization. Should you want to learn more about our InfoSec services, please drop us a line at [email protected] and we’ll take it from there.

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