Security TipsTech Zone

What is Zero Trust Security and Its Core Principles

7 Mins read
zero trust security

Now more than ever, organizations are increasingly trying to understand the concept of ‘Zero Trust Security’ and how it can be used to bolster the security of their data and systems. No doubt, a zero-trust strategy can safeguard any type of business, small or large, in this new era of remote work.

So, what exactly is Zero Trust security and how does it work? In this article, we’ll explore the concept of zero trust security and more.

1. What is Zero Trust security?

Zero Trust security is not a product, vendor, or technology.

Zero Trust security is a model or framework for protecting data and applications in an organization. It is about a simple concept – “trust no one, always verify”. It means that organizations must not trust anything by default, inside or outside their IT network or infrastructure. They must strictly verify identity and authenticate and authorize users who are closer to their resources.

To implement this model, organizations are essentially required to include verification activities such as auditing, tracking, monitoring, and alerting in every aspect of their IT infrastructure.

Zero Trust security is similar to the Principle of Least Privilege, where only those users are given privileged access who require it to perform their job. The only difference in Zero Trust security is that organizations are required to track the activities of all the users, including the most privileged ones.

So, don’t trust anyone, not even your most privileged users. 

Zero Trust Security
Credit: Pexels

2. How Zero Trust security work?

Practically, a Zero Trust security model focuses on five key areas:

  • User
  • Device
  • Application
  • Data
  • Session

Among the five focus areas, User and Device are the key areas that the Zero Trust ecosystem emphasizes on the most. If we think about how organizations must take cybersecurity, these choices will make a lot of sense. However, due to the increasing use of cloud technologies, there are other areas too that increase an organization’s risk surfaces, and therefore, areas such as Data and Applications have also gained importance in the cloud-first strategy (as listed above).

Hence, rather than addressing security only from an identity standpoint, organizations have broadened their security strategies by addressing Zero Trust from a more controlled access standpoint.

2.1. Principles of Zero Trust Security Model

The principles of Zero Trust Security Model are:

  • Verify explicitly: The first principle of zero trust security is to always verify and authenticate every user, device, and application that requests access to the network or resources, regardless of whether the access is coming from inside or outside the network.
  • Least privilege access: Grant users and devices only the minimum access necessary to complete their tasks. Limit access privileges to resources and data, so users can only access what they need to do their job.
  • Assume breach: Assume that attackers have already gained access to the network or system, and design security protocols accordingly. Continuously monitor all activities and analyze every transaction for anomalies or suspicious activity.
  • Micro-segmentation: Divide the network into smaller, manageable segments, and restrict access between them. This ensures that if a breach does occur, the attacker’s access is limited to a small portion of the network, rather than the entire network.
  • Data protection: Encrypt sensitive data and protect it with access controls. Limit the use of data by only allowing access to authorized personnel, devices, and applications.
  • Continuous monitoring: Monitor and analyze network activity in real-time to detect and respond to potential security breaches. Use machine learning and artificial intelligence to identify anomalies and suspicious activity.

2.2. Zero Trust Architecture

Organizations build a Zero Trust Architecture (ZTA) by blocking unauthorized users from accessing areas of the network, applications, and data.

Zero Trust Architecture – Core Components (Credit: NIST)

There are three approaches that organizations use for creating an effective Zero Trust architecture.

2.2.1. Identity-based

Organizations often take an identity-based approach when building their Zero Trust security architecture. This approach puts the identity of devices, users, or services in focus while drafting policies. For example, the resource access policies of an organization are based on role-assigned attributes.

The basic requirement for any user or device to enter an organizational resource is to have access privileges. This access is granted to them only after their identity is verified by a trusted source. Enterprises need to authenticate the identity and the health of each device and then decide whether to allow entry to the users or devices on a real-time basis.

2.2.2. Network-based

The nature of the network-based approach requires the ability to divide the network perimeter of corporate resources into sub-sections where each sub-section is secured through a web gateway. While this approach is quite safe yet is not completely risk-free, as anything that manages to enter the network gateway is trusted. Hence, organizations must use robust security measures in this approach to protect each resource.  

Organizations must also use network devices such as intelligent switches for improving network efficiency or Software-Defined Networking (SDN) for improving performance, monitoring and overall network management.

2.2.3. Cloud-based

A cloud-based approach uses systems that integrate with any asset and make cloud access more manageable for any organization. It uses software-defined perimeter, identity and access management, and multi-factor authentication to block unwanted events from occurring. Like other approaches, it also divides traditional perimeters into sub-zones. This enables easy monitoring and better access control.

Overall, everything required for a sleep-deprived or overly stressed security team to protect their data and resources is the ‘Zero Trust security model’.

2.3. How to design a Zero Trust Architecture? Few points to consider.

  • Plan ahead and design an architecture based on the outcomes you define.
  • When designing, consider securing all areas.
  • Decide who, what, where, and when to allow access and at what levels. Accordingly, draft access control policies and implement them across environments.
  • Inspect all traffic that enters or leaves your network and take full control of all activities over all layers.
  • Use multi-factor authentication (MFA) and short-lived credentials.
  • Apply the right workflows and regularly create reporting and analytics of compliance.

2.4. Trust Broker and Actionable Metrics

In a Zero Trust architecture, a trust broker plays a crucial part in deciding whether the context, identity, and policy adherence are sufficiently trusted before allowing access to the specified participants. To make this decision, following are the trust metrics on the basis of which security teams operate within an organization:

2.4.1. People Trust Metrics

User Authentication: This involves verifying the authentication status of users and the security level that users need to pass. For example, two-factor or multi-factor authentication provide better security than simple authentication.

User Activity: This involves verifying if the users follow normal working patterns in an organization. For example, are users accessing the devices during normal working hours? Are users accessing the organizational resources from their usual access devices?

2.4.2. Device Trust Metrics

Location Tracking: This involves verifying whether a device is being operated from an expected geographic location, using a safe network.

Device Security: This involves steps that authenticates if the device is used by an authorized person and has anti-virus, anti-malware installed.

2.4.3. Data Trust Metrics

This includes verifying the following:

(a) Who has access to what kind of data?

(b) What is the level of sensitivity of the data?

(c) What security parameters are set on the different data types?

3. Do you need Zero Trust security?

Here are the benefits of implementing a Zero Trust security architecture:

3.1. Reduces risk for organizations

A Zero Trust solution such as InstaSafe helps organizations to minimize risk in the cloud and improve governance and compliance. It helps them to gain better visibility into all devices and users, detect threats and maintain control across a network. A Zero Trust model helps in defining policies that get updated automatically when risks are identified.

3.2. Turns down the breach possibilities

Data breaches can not only cause financial loss to companies but also can impact a customer’s confidence in them. Both customers and governments are increasingly growing their demands for security and data privacy, and it is on enterprises to meet that requirement in the best possible manner.

To reduce the possibility of breaches, a network using the Zero Trust architecture continuously analyzes the workload. The moment a mismatch is detected, its communication privileges are blocked from the rest of the system. This process continues within the system until the system is improved according to the defined security policies.

3.3. Improves compliance and trust

Zero Trust architecture naturally improves an organization’s appetite for compliance and adherence to the policies. This, in turn, helps them gain customer trust. There are many tools provided by trusted vendors offering cyber security services to businesses of all sizes to help make the digital world more secure.

4. How to implement Zero Trust security?

Below are the key steps and considerations for successfully implementing Zero Trust security:

  • Identify What to Protect: Start your Zero Trust journey by pinpointing your attack surface. Focus on safeguarding your most crucial digital assets, so you’re not overwhelmed. This includes sensitive customer and employee data, key business applications, vital physical assets like PoS and IoT devices, and essential corporate services.
  • Manage Network Traffic: Understand how data flows through your network. This knowledge will help you set up effective network controls, particularly around sensitive databases and architecture.
  • Build Your Zero Trust Network: Design a network that caters to your specific needs, as there’s no universal solution in Zero Trust. Usually, you’ll start with advanced firewalls for network segmentation and incorporate multi-factor authentication (MFA) for rigorous user verification.
  • Develop Zero Trust Policies: Use the Kipling Method (who, what, when, where, why, how) to create detailed access policies for every user, device, and network segment.
  • Monitor Network Activity: Keep a close eye on your network. Regular reports can spot unusual activities, while analytics provide insights into network and user behavior. System logs offer a detailed, timestamped activity record, which can be manually or automatically analyzed for patterns and anomalies.

Building a Zero Trust security architecture, with solutions like InstaSafe, can be an excellent decision for futuristic organizations. With time, Zero Trust will be the only framework in the market when it comes to cybersecurity.

5. Why choose InstaSafe as your Zero Trust solution?

InstaSafe stands out in the world of Zero Trust security, offering a strong and easy-to-use solution.

Here’s why it’s a great choice:

  • Simple Yet Strong Security: InstaSafe uses a Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA) framework. Think of it like having two layers of security – one for your network and one for your apps. This keeps your data safe and separate from where you log in, making everything more secure.
  • Extra Layers of Protection: With InstaSafe, you get extra security checks like multi-factor authentication (MFA) and single sign-on (SSO). This means it double-checks who you are and what device you’re using, which is super important to keep out cyber threats.
  • Easy and Flexible to Use: Using InstaSafe, you can get into your web apps from any device or browser without having to install anything extra. This makes it super user-friendly and flexible, no matter what kind of tech setup you have.

In short, InstaSafe is a top-notch, secure, and easy-to-use option for your Zero Trust needs. It has got all the advanced features you need, plus it is also user-friendly.

Want to see how InstaSafe can protect your business? Give it a try and see the difference for yourself!

PS: You may be having a secure infrastructure and so, may have nothing to be worried about. But what’s the harm in getting it assessed and verified?

Here’s a link to a free Security Assessment Tool to help you get security status quickly.

Read Next: 5 Essential factors to consider while selecting end-protection tool for your business

60 posts

About author
Priyanka Dadhich – a content writer, can usually be found reading books. She likes to write about technology, healthcare, travel and fashion. Priyanka loves coffee and listens to music in her free time. She spends her free time with her family.
Related posts
Security Tips

How to define a proactive security approach with Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR)?

5 Mins read
While navigating an evolving digital phase, businesses encounter the mounting challenge of safeguarding their endpoints against increasingly sophisticated cyber threats. Against this…
Security Tips

What is Endpoint Security? How does it work and what are its use cases?

4 Mins read
The traditional boundaries that once confined us to a designated office space have blurred, giving rise to the era of hybrid work….
Security Tips

7 Must-follow Tips for Data Leakage Prevention (DLP) in 2024

5 Mins read
In today’s modern digital world where technology rules the roost, safeguarding sensitive information has become highly critical. As organizations harness the power of…