Two of the biggest tech guys discussed cybersecurity with the U.S. president, Joe Biden, in August 2021. Microsoft announced $20 billion to support critical infrastructure security while Google committed $10 billion. The fascinating part is that both companies are leveraging the Zero Trust security model to address online insecurity issues in the United States.
Google prided itself as one of the leading pioneers in Zero Trust computing, affirming that trust that requires access to data or sensitive resources must be earned.
It added that zero trust assures the highest level of safety in cyberspace for organizations and is thereby worth being implemented by the federal government.
John Kindervag, a research analyst at Forrester, was the first to introduce the zero trust architecture. It simply means that everyone, internally and externally, should be subjected to verification without blind reservation of trust to any party.
Today, almost all tech security vendors consider applying this cybersecurity model to get out of the deepening destructive cyber attacks.
Cybersecurity is an umbrella term that means the practice of securing data, computers, mobile devices, networks, servers, and electronic systems from cyber attacks by applying controls, processes, and technologies.
A major goal of cybersecurity is to protect private or organizational resources against unauthorized access and exploitation.
Zero Trust Security Model
Well, many of us may ask, what is Zero Trust? Actually, it is a protective framework that has to do with safeguarding organizational resources by ensuring that every potential user, whether within or outside the network, is necessitated to go through a security check.
Zero Trust addresses the increasing struggles of organizations to protect company data, remote workers, hybrid cloud environments and ensure safety from ransomware threats.
Ransomware is a kind of malicious software — malware — targeted at blocking access to a company’s data or threatening to publish secret organization information if the victim refuses to pay a ransom fee to the attacker. The attacker usually encrypts data to prevent access until the victim makes a payment. And on many occasions, the ransom demand is accompanied by a deadline.
Zero trust deals with every user as a potential attacker until they are verified to access the data they need per time. So, just because a user or device falls within the “trusted’ side of VPN or firewall doesn’t mean that it should be awarded automatic access.
Zero trust security is neither a product nor a service. It is an approach to insecurity in cyberspace. With the method of securing resources, it is perceived by many players in the technology industry as the ‘highest level of security.’
Several vendors have tried to define zero trust in their way; however, several principles from leading organizations would help apply Zero Trust in your corporate network.
According to guidelines by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), Zero Trust addresses these three main principles:
- To put a barrier on the “breach scope.” It aims at minimizing the possibility of data loss, whether from an internal or external activity.
- To implement repeat verification. All users, private and company accounts, and devices must always pass through verification processes before accessing data.
- To automate detection, response, and prevention. Considering data based on a user’s activity and signature, it performs incident response to contain any potential breach.
Best Practices for Implementing Zero Trust Security
Organizations that want to conduct a Zero Trust framework in their system should channel their efforts around these best practices:
i. Identify data categorized as “sensitive” and prioritize them:
This approach involves knowing where it resides, who has access to it per time, and how it is accessed.
ii. Scan for potential threats often:
Zero trust is not a one-time or occasional strategy. It requires continuous monitoring of all activity around data access and sharing. It compared the activity to a set of rules built on prior analytics and behavior. Combining monitoring, rules, behaviors, and analytics strengthens security internally and externally.
iii. Establish limits and access control:
When an organization migrates to the Zero Trust security model, all devices, users, processes, and applications requiring data access must comply with established restrictions.
iv. Consider multi-factor authentication (MFA) for user verifications.
Many years back, single passwords used to be all that organizations needed to secure data access, but today, passwords and usernames can be sniffed and phished by malware. MFA must be applied regardless of who the user is. It could be a partner, privileged user, IT team member, an end-user, or a customer. Other verification layers must also be put in place to authenticate attempted access to sensitive data.
v. Employ solutions that learn and adapt:
Leading identity management solutions are designed to collect user data, information about the server, endpoint, policies, application, and every related activity. This information is fed into a reservoir of data that enables machine learning.
Cyber threats and attacks will not go away, so organizations must continue to implement ways to monitor user behavior across all networks and applications without exemptions, ensuring that policies are fully adhered to.
The Zero Trust security model will help tackle individual security challenges and safeguard organization resources by preventing potentially hacked devices from gaining access to data and setting up location-specific access control, among other measures.