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7 Things to Know About Zero-Trust Security

The world of cybersecurity moves quickly, and traditional security solutions like firewalls and anti-DoS aren’t enough to fully secure your network. Enterprise-level organizations are turning to more extensive options like protective DNS service, often with the goal of establishing a zero-trust security architecture. 

Below, learn more about what zero-trust means and what it entails because it is the future of cybersecurity. 

1. The Basics of Zero Trust

The zero-trust network is also called zero trust architecture. It was created in 2010, and it’s becoming increasingly mainstream as a way to protect enterprise systems and their growing data in the face of increasingly sophisticated attacks. 

Zero trust is built on the idea that there should not be automatic trust of anything inside or outside the perimeters of a network. 

Everything has to be verified before access to systems is granted. There is no inherent trust in anyone. 

No one can access IP addresses or machines until they’re identified and authorized. 

The consensus right now is that zero trust is the best way to stop attacks. 

What zero security is not is a specific type of technology or set of tools. Instead, it’s a strategy or approach. 

The model requires very stringent identity verification for every device and individual trying to access resources. 

2. Zero Trust Contrasts with Castle-and-Moat

The old way of doing things was called castle-and-moat. With this concept of security architecture, organizations focused on the perimeters, with the assumption everything inside was no threat and could have access. 

This approach isn’t working, and some of the biggest and most painful data breaches have occurred because once the attacker got inside the firewalls, they could move around internally with ease. 

One of the reasons castle-and-moat no longer works is because companies now have so much of their data and information dispersed across cloud vendors. It’s nearly impossible to have a streamlined security control for a whole network. 

3. There Are Numerous Benefits

When you have zero trust architecture, it gives you a framework for how you can best allocate your security resources. Knowing that a zero-trust architecture is guiding you can help you prioritize as needed. 

You can also monitor all of your data and user activity easily because a core component is granular visibility. 

As more organizations rely on the cloud, zero trust gives you efficiency without requiring you to increase your risk level. 

Relatively speaking, zero-trust security frameworks are also low-cost but high value. 

4. Key Principles

The key principles of zero-trust security include:

  • As has been touched on, no machines or users are automatically trusted. The assumption is there are attackers within and outside the network. 
  • There is a concept called least-privilege access, meaning that employees only have access to what they need. This limits exposure. 
  • Micro-segmentation is used in zero trust. Micro-segmentation breaks up larger perimeters into smaller ones so that the network is subdivided in terms of access. 
  • Multi-factor authentication is required for zero-trust security. It’s not enough to use just a password. 
  • Along with user access, there are controls on device access. With a zero-trust system, you need to know how many devices are trying to access the device at any time, and every device has to be authorized, cutting down on the potential attack surface. 

5. Identifying the Protected Surface

In some ways this has been touched on, but in zero-trust one of the first things you do is identify what’s called a protected surface. 

This is made up of your most critical data and assets, and it’s unique to your organization. 

The protected surface is vastly smaller than the attack surface. 

6. COVID-19 Likely Accelerated Zero Trust

While zero trust wasn’t new when COVID-19 hit, there’s some evidence that it’s accelerating the adoption of this approach. 

Security teams had to change priorities to remote workers and sustaining business opportunities. 

7. Implementation

This was mentioned above, but to implement a zero-trust model, one of the first things you have to do is define your protected surface, which again, is specific to your organization. You’ll identify your most sensitive data and assets, as well as applications. 

Go over gaps in your infrastructure and the tools you currently use. 

Focus your strategy on the protection of your most critical assets. 

From there, you can start to map out how transactions flow between your assets. 

Then, you can get specific with the implementation of elements of zero trust architecture like multifactor authentication and least privilege principles.