The Zero Trust model does not sound offensive in the IT landscape. It is now a crucial principle of network security considering that remote work is now the new norm and consumers prefer the e-commerce platform. The greater reliance on online transactions has also increased, with cybercrimes now four-folds than pre-pandemic.
Here we will look into how the zero-trust model works and how it can protect one IT network.
What is Zero Trust Security?
An IT security model enforces a strict identity verification of every user and device that tries to access a private network, irrespective of whether they are sitting within a network perimeter or outside it.
The Zero trust network access (ZTNA) is the leading technology behind the Zero Trust architecture.
Zero trust security is a holistic approach to a network using various techniques and principles. It is opposite to a traditional IT network that trusts everyone inside the network. A zero-trust framework trusts no one.
A traditional IT network works on the concept of castle and moat. The castle and moat security does not allow anyone to obtain access from outside the network but trust everyone within by default. The downside to this approach is when an attacker gains access inside the network. The attacker gets free run and access to everything inside the network.
The vulnerability in the castle and moats security system is that nowadays, organizations do not have data in one place only but scattered across different cloud vendors. Hence, that makes it all the more difficult to have single security control over the entire network.
When no one is trusted by default, either inside or outside the network, verification becomes essential for everyone trying to access the network resources. The significance of zero-trust security gets underlined right here. The added layer of security prevents any data breach attempt. According to statistics, an average cost of a single data breach costs more than $ 3 million. It is not surprising that organizations are gradually opting for a Zero Trust Security policy, considering the huge amount involved in an attack.
The principle behind Zero Trust Security
Continuous monitoring and validation
The zero-trust policy philosophy of not trusting anyone assumes that attackers can be inside or outside the network. Thus, no device or users can be trusted—the verification of user identity and their privileges and the identity of the device for security. The logins and connections are periodically timed out. They are established after the users and devices re-establish their credentials.
The least privilege access is another principle of zero-trust security. It allows users to access only as much as their job roles allow them and minimizes their exposure to sensitive data in the network.
Implementing least privilege options for users involves giving permissions carefully. For this, principle, VPN is not suitable as giving authorization to someone logging in to a VPN allows them access to the whole connected network.
Device control access
Zero trust, apart from controlling users' access, also exercises strict controls on device access. Zero Trust systems monitor various devices that try to access the network and ensure that every device is authorized. In addition to this, it assesses all the devices to make sure that they are not compromised. It reduces the probability of an attack on the network.
Micro-segmentation is a process where security perimeters are divided into small zones to maintain separate access for different network parts and spread the security risk. A network has had files living in a single data center that uses the micro-segmentation technique with dozens of separate, secure zones. A user with access to one of those zones will not access other zones without additional authorization.
Prevents lateral movement
A lateral movement in a network is regarded when an attacker moves inside after gaining access to that network. Even if an entry point in the network gets discovered, it gets complicated to detect any lateral movement. The problem is that the attacker moves to different parts of the network, thus compromising them.
Zero Trust is designed in such a manner so that it can contain attackers and prevent their lateral movement. The segmentation of Zero Trust access and periodic validation ensures that an attacker cannot move across to other microsegments of the network.
If a security breach or abnormality is detected, the compromised device or user account is quarantined and removed from further access. It is in sharp contrast to the castle-and-moat model. Here a lateral movement makes it possible for the attacker to be unaffected by the quarantining of the original compromised device as it may have already reached other parts of the network.
Multi-factor Authentication (MFA)
The MFA is the core value of Zero Trust security. The requiring of more than one confirmation to authenticate a user, for example, a password, is not enough to gain access. A widespread application of Multi-factor Authentication is the 2 FA or 2-factor authorization used on online platforms. Apart from entering a password, users who opt for 2FA for these services must also enter a one-time passcode sent to another device, such as a mobile phone, to doubly confirm that they are the one and same user.
Installing Zero Trust Security
Zero Trust may appear complex, but using this security model is simple with the right technology partner who can use a SASE platform that combines network services with an in-built Zero Trust security for its user and device access.
The Zero Trust security was discovered in 2010 by an analyst at Forrester Research Inc. The concept was presented, and later Google adopted the Zero Trust security in their network. It led to more awareness and interest among the tech community. In 2019 Zero trust security was listed as a core component of SASE solutions.