The Zero Trust model provides many benefits that can improve the security of hybrid and remote work environments.
The primary benefit is enhanced defense against external threats and internal attacks. The solution also enables organizations to monitor their entire network from a centralized dashboard, providing real-time insights that can lead to rapid responses to cyberattacks.
This helps limit the attack surface and makes it more difficult for attackers to move laterally across the organization.
The best Zero Trust Network Access solutions require a complete survey of every organization’s user, device, and application. This helps to identify orphaned accounts, obsolete permissions, and other potential vulnerabilities. Once these have been closed, Zero Trust minimizes the attack surface by reducing the number of places attackers can go.
This approach also verifies users and their devices, encrypts connections, and marks known and trusted devices to prevent them from being used by malicious actors to gain entry into the system.
This way, any user or device that makes it past the initial verification process is prevented from accessing critical applications and data – whether on-premises or in the cloud. In addition, Zero Trust can provide true least privilege because access is granted based on context, such as the user, device, location, type of content, or even the app being requested. These policies are adaptive so they can be reassessed as the situation changes.
As more employees work remotely, security teams face the challenge of securing data in multiple locations. Zero Trust is an excellent solution, as it allows organizations to eliminate VPNs and connect users directly to the applications they need. This reduces the risk of compromised apps spreading malware to other network parts and eliminates administrators needing to manage multiple systems moving from on-premises to multi-cloud environments.
Secure Access to Critical Data
Zero trust networks use granular context-based policies that verify access requests and rights. They check users, devices, and applications against business policies on the fly—before they reach network boundaries.
And they’re adaptive, so access privileges are reassessed continually. This limits the attack surface, eliminates lateral movement, and protects against compromised devices that could infect other systems. For example, a user who wants to connect to an application is first verified using multifactor authentication.
The user must enter a code sent to their mobile device and provide a password. This checks the user’s identity and ensures the device has not been tampered with.
This prevents the theft of a username and password, which can be used laterally across an organization’s networks. In addition, Zero Trust also uses policies to mark devices as known or risky and flag them for additional checks. This allows businesses to enforce policies specific to the environment and their requirements for access, such as checking for out-of-date software on user devices.
This enables businesses to improve security without creating security fatigue for employees or contractors that can affect productivity. Zero trust technology complements traditional tools like firewalls, intrusion detection/prevention systems, and network access control brokers (NAC) by stopping attackers while they’re inside the perimeter.
Reduced Risk of Data Loss
With data that once gathered on one central server now spread across countless cloud platforms, Zero Trust has emerged as the best way to protect against threats.
This approach involves creating zones within the network to secure elements that might contain sensitive information or provide access to malicious actors. When these zones are micro-segmented, a firewall or filter forms a barrier that prevents threats from entering or exiting them, protecting the rest of the network.
A zero-trust security strategy also requires granular monitoring of application access based on risk, ensuring that only authorized devices gain access to applications. This is much more difficult than securing a VPN, as logging in to a VPN grants users access to the entire connected network.
Zero Trust strategies can be implemented in phases, allowing staff to get used to the new system without disrupting operations. Another critical component of Zero Trust is continuous verification, which can be achieved using identity protection and multifactor authentication.
MFA requires more than just a password to log in, such as the two-factor authentication (2FA) used on social media platforms like Facebook and Google. This helps reduce the potential for insider and stolen credentials attacks when users enter their passwords to access a sensitive file.
In addition, Zero Trust strategies must consider a wide range of factors, including device and user identity, location, and device and network security posture. Automating context collection and response is crucial for the most accurate threat detection and mitigation.
Zero Trust takes a new approach to security and requires everything on a network to be vetted, verified, and monitored. Its core principles include:
- Continuous verification.
- Limiting the “blast radius” in a breach.
- Ensuring no single device or user can access resources inside a network perimeter (even if previously authenticated).
In many enterprises, Zero Trust requires a range of technologies to be deployed, including micro-segmentation tools, software-defined wide area networks (SD-WAN), identity-aware proxies, cloud access security brokers, firewall as a service, and even single sign-on (SSO) solutions.
For organizations to effectively deploy and scale a Zero Trust model, their security infrastructure needs to be consolidated into one platform that can be easily managed from a central control plane. Traditionally, this has been difficult to achieve because each solution may operate on a different network with its own policies.
For example, in a typical enterprise environment, multiple databases, servers, proxies, firewalls, and other systems operate in different physical and cloud data centers with their policies and configurations.
With the help of a Zero Trust Network Access solution that supports robust device and user authentication, it becomes much easier for IT to converge these disparate systems into a cohesive, zero-trust architecture. As a result, users get a consistent and productive experience, and the network is more protected from threats.