IT strategy is evolving rapidly due to the increasing incidence of security threats in recent years. Amongst the technology involved, one of the newer security models—zero trust security has been gaining significant consideration from private as well as government enterprises since 2022 and is predicted to continue its journey to fame in the coming days.
But what is zero-trust security?
Zero-trust security helps secure corporate and customer data far superiorly than perimeter-based security. However, it needs to have seamless control over your IT infrastructure in order to fortify enterprise security.
Organizations must take sufficient time to prepare before adopting zero-trust security. Although some security tools will be required, most businesses concentrate on management. As a result, it’s best to start by creating a list of everyone in the organization and the level of access they need to accomplish their tasks.
Furthermore, before developing a zero-trust implementation strategy, enterprises must conduct a thorough evaluation for data discovery and a cybersecurity assessment. This helps IT employees understand what data they protect and where it is stored, which might pose a challenge.
In this blog, we will dive deep into what zero-trust security means, how it works, and 6 strategies to implement it in your IT organization.
What is Zero-Trust Security?
A zero-trust security model is a cybersecurity method in which companies do not automatically trust any user, device, or network communication. This implicit trust model needs all network traffic to be authenticated and authorized before being given access. This method guarantees that users, devices, and other resources on a trusted network are only granted data access after they have been verified as legitimate and safe.
This is different from traditional security models that merely trust endpoints and users within the perimeter. Traditional security strategies significantly raise the danger of unauthorized entry, insider threats, and lateral movement. In a digitally transformed world where most businesses operate using the public cloud, such an approach does not work anymore.
Using the zero-trust security model, organizations allow secure network access to data and apps on corporate networks through continuous authentication, authorization, and validation of internal and external users.
What are the principles of the zero-trust security model?
Enterprise zero-trust strategies must include the following principles, regardless of whether organizations function in an on-premises data center or the public cloud:
- Assume that “inside the network” does not exist at any point.
- Implement security rules that are clear and adaptable to changing threat levels consistently.
- Never put your confidence in anyone, and always double-check everything!
There is no conventional network edge in the zero-trust model. As a result, it is an ideal security framework for securing business networks and data in a highly connected world. This method, for example, can help address malware and ransomware attacks, remote working, and cloud security issues.
Furthermore, zero-trust complements security guidelines and compliance models such as SOC 2 and the National Institute of Standards and Technology 800-207 (NIST 800-207).
How Does Zero-Trust Security Work?
To implement a robust zero-trust approach, security teams must use a variety of security tools. Successful zero-trust security implementations, for example, integrate biometrics, device certification, VPNs, cloud workload management protocols, multi-factor authentication (MFA), next-generation endpoint security solutions, single sign-on (SSO) tools, encryption tools, identity protection protocols, and other technologies.
In zero-trust architecture, continuous monitoring and verification are required to ensure that users and related devices only obtain access to data and applications needed to complete a job.
In this scenario, security teams must constantly enforce cybersecurity policies and best practices. They must, for example, evaluate compliance with regulations and access to business infrastructure by user and device Industry-specific requirements.
After identifying all services and privileged accounts, the first step is to create individual access controls. Observing that on-time validations are ineffective because user attributes and the most recent threats evolve rapidly is critical.
Gaining full visibility into the environment assists security teams in determining the following:
- Apps that are loaded on endpoints
- Protocol for authentication and risk
- The various kinds of endpoint hardware and their functions
- Versions of firmware
- Individual certificate advantages
- Detection of incidents or notice of security events
- Geographical places
- Various operating systems with varying patch versions
- Over standard connections, user and device activity
- User identification and authorization (programmatic or human)
Automation is also used by zero-trust security tools, which incorporate artificial intelligence and machine learning. Additionally, the addition of threat intelligence and analytics tools allows for a hyper-accurate policy response.
6 Strategies to Implement Zero-Trust Security in Your Startup
There are many tactics to enforce zero-trust security measures in your IT organization. Let’s check out the six most commonly-used strategies:
- Assign a team of dedicated personnel
Your IT staff will already have a to-do list, and the transition to the zero-trust security model may need to be prioritized. It is best to create a small dedicated zero-trust team to plan and initiate the migration to zero-trust architecture.
Including risk management, security operations, applications, data security, and user and device security experts is critical. Once the team is assembled, they can begin assessing the present situation.
- Create a blueprint for hybrid environments
Hybrid cloud environments and Internet of Things (IoT) gadgets dramatically increase the attack surface. They make steering clear of threat actors and ensuring network security increasingly difficult.
During the early stages of your zero-trust journey, mapping hybrid environments and investigating various use cases is critical. This approach assists security teams in rapidly identifying potential cyberattack paths and limiting data exposure to a security breach. Security teams, for example, can use network segmentation to segment device types, group tasks, and identities.
It is critical to note that implementing zero-trust without a thorough knowledge of the organization’s current security posture will be a complete waste of time and resources. Having a dedicated staff map your environment is therefore critical.
- Identify key workflows
Determining critical process flows is vital because it is becoming increasingly difficult. Assessing operational workflows and pathways across users, devices, apps, and services will assist dedicated zero-trust teams in developing rules and policies and purchasing the appropriate tools to implement them.
This is also an excellent opportunity to consider what tools can help increase employee productivity and efficiency. Furthermore, while providing users with only the data and applications they need to complete their tasks is critical, strengthening the enterprise security posture should not affect user experience.
Organizations can use access management solutions to minimize the attack surface by determining key process flows using the least-privileged-access strategy (preventing lateral movement) without hampering client experience.
- Design Policies and Regulations to Control the Micro-Perimeter
After mapping all pathways and process flows, the teams can define and create the protected surface. They can, for example, establish network perimeter guidelines and policies. Using this method, businesses can attain greater granularity across endpoints.
By default, the zero-trust security model concentrates on the micro-level of the attack surface. As a result, defining the protected surface, which typically includes digital assets, sensitive data, business-critical applications, and services, is much simpler.
Mapping traffic flows across enterprise networks also gives security teams the knowledge they need to develop a security plan. Contextual insights into application and data interdependencies aid teams in enforcing secure access controls while improving operations through proper documentation.
The secure surface will almost always include intellectual property (IP), personally identifiable information (PII), and protected health information (PHI). After defining the security surface, it is best to move user access and security controls near the attack surface as feasible. By getting as close to the attack surface as possible, zero-trust dedicated teams can create a micro-perimeter with precise and easily understood limited policy statements.
Zero-trust security teams must engage all organizational stakeholders to guarantee that only the most appropriate policies are enforced. This method also allows you to teach your employees about them.
- Build a Stable Zero-Trust Policy
After the zero-trust security team has designed the network, it is time to create and implement zero-trust policies. The Kipling Method is a well-known approach for determining which resources should have secure access.
The Kipling Method emphasizes the “who, what, when, where, why, and how” of the resource in question. It has been derived from the famous late author Rudyard Kipling’s poem Six Serving Men.
As a result, when applying this idea to your cybersecurity strategy, you must consider questions such as:
- Who are the people with access to a particular resource?
- What are the various methods the packet can gain access to the protected surface?
- When will they need to use the resource?
- Where is the packet finally supposed to reach?
- Why is a packet attempting to access resources on a secure surface?
- How should workers use the applications available to them to gain access to resources within the micro-perimeter?
The Kipling Method guarantees that only verified and legitimate traffic and apps traverse the network.
- Continually Maintain and Implement Zero-Trust Architecture
Cybersecurity protocols and security tactics must be proactive in the present threat landscape. There is absolutely no alternative, and it is the only way for businesses to mitigate risk and avoid a potential data breach in a rapidly evolving threat landscape.
Supplementing your zero-trust strategy with real-time monitoring and dynamic governance procedures is critical. In addition, zero-trust security teams can implement policies and rules at the micro-perimeter before deploying zero-trust network architecture.
This stage of zero-trust execution can be time- and resource-consuming. As a result, taking the time to plan ahead of time will help to prevent any potential downtime.
Since humans can’t remain alert and monitor traffic in real-time and around the clock, cutting-edge AI and ML-powered tools are essential to implement the zero-trust policy you have devised around the clock. These powerful tools will provide real-time alerts to security teams while fortifying business infrastructure.
To obtain a comprehensive understanding of security events, zero-trust teams can use security information and event management (SIEM) systems.
Cybersecurity and Compliance With Akitra!
The zero-trust paradigm necessitates a collaborative effort on the part of all stakeholders. If everyone is not committed to implementing security best practices, the organization will not receive the full benefits.
Furthermore, creating responsibilities for various sections of the zero-trust framework is critical. The best strategy is to bring security and non-security teams together to find and fix potential vulnerabilities. Enterprises can prevent catastrophic security events by detecting and resolving possible vulnerabilities before threat actors exploit them.
Another way to effectively reduce the incidence of catastrophes affecting your IT infrastructure is by implementing a cybersecurity program tailored to your organization’s IT protection requirements and keeping your operations and systems updated with regular compliance checks. This is why Akitra will be ideal for your requirements.
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Our solutions’ benefits include enormous time, human resources, and money savings. Customers can stay safe from cybersecurity threats and unforeseen IT infrastructure breakdowns, achieve compliance certification fast and cost-effectively, and remain continuously compliant as they grow.
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