The Zero Trust network security framework provides strong authentication and verification for users, devices, and data. It also limits their access to the internal network and focuses on detecting suspicious behaviors to mitigate threats and breaches. It departs from the traditional implicit trust, which relies on trusted zones and secure gateways.
Zero trust security is a foundational element of cyber resilience. This approach shifts focus from preventing attacks to accepting that they will happen and being able to quickly respond, recover, and mitigate against them. Zero trust network explained to companies is essential so that they will be encouraged to adopt a new security model that relies on continuous authentication and verification for everyone entering the network. This is a significant departure from traditional perimeter security systems that depend on rules and analytics at the network’s edge to protect against threats from inside users and devices. Zero trust security combines visibility/analytics, access control, and network segmentation with strong multifactor authentication (MFA) methods beyond passwords, such as biometrics or one-time codes, to verify every device and user entering the corporate network. It also ensures policies and controls are applied everywhere, including the cloud. In addition, it removes network location as a position of advantage and uses software-defined micro-segmentation to secure data and infrastructure across distributed hybrid and multi-cloud environments. This allows organizations to secure agile business growth while reducing the attack risk.
Principle of the Least Privilege
The least privilege principle is about limiting access to data and systems. This reduces the likelihood of an attacker spreading malware or gaining additional privileged access. It also helps ensure that an attacker can’t exploit a system flaw to gain complete control. For example, one way to apply the principle of least privilege is by requiring multifactor authentication before giving any users elevated access to your network. It’s also essential to review accounts and permissions frequently. This includes ensuring that the highest level of authority is only used for critical tasks such as creating backups or deleting files. Another way to implement the principle of least privilege is to require SSL inspection for all network traffic. This will help you identify suspicious communications that could be part of a cyberattack. Zero trust is a security model, considering that networks and cloud infrastructure are no longer confined to a single location. As such, it assumes that every entity is hostile and requires verification before granting any trust. It also reduces the chance of an attacker spreading to other parts of your network. The principle of least privilege applies to user accounts, devices, and applications. All entities attempting to connect to systems must be verified and vetted. This is a critical security concept because it limits the “blast radius” if an external or insider breach does occur. In addition to lessening the impact of a breach, it also helps reduce malware infection and propagation. Using the principle of least privilege enables organizations to grant users access to a system only for the minimum amount of time needed to do their job or complete an approved task. For example, a payroll processing clerk should only have access to the company’s customer database and not all employee records. This would prevent an employee from violating privacy laws by viewing confidential data. Other examples of applying the principle of least privilege include:
- Limiting the number of permissions granted to application and service accounts required for system functionality.
- Implementing just-in-time access elevation.
- Regularly reviewing cloud IAM permissions and entitlements.
These best practices help organizations avoid compliance violations and improve overall operational performance.
Zero trust requires identity and context to be verified before accessing critical applications. It also includes using granular access controls and multifactor authentication to ensure that only authorized users can access sensitive information, regardless of location or device. With the rise of remote work and the recent pandemic, attacks are increasingly targeting company servers, desktops, laptops, Point of Sales (POS) systems, and other endpoints to gain unauthorized access to sensitive data. The Zero Trust model assumes that these endpoints are always hostile, and the reassessment of user identities and their context is continuously validated during application and network usage. The architecture is based on a series of microperimeters that regulate and monitor traffic in the surrounding area of critical data and components. The gateway at the edge of each micro perimeter uses a Layer 7 firewall and the Kipling method to thoroughly vet users, devices, and data to determine whether they should be allowed into the network. If it is determined that they aren’t, the gatekeeper denies them entry.
Zero trust requires users to verify their identity when accessing applications and data. This means requiring multifactor solid authentication (MFA) on the device and network to ensure the person behind the screen is who they say they are. It also requires that this process be continuously validated while the user is in the application. This approach makes it harder for insider threats to gain lateral movement within the organization. It also helps protect against phishing, social engineering, malware, and password attacks. Zero trust is a fundamental shift from the traditional network security model that has relied on secure perimeters and centralized data centers. It treats every network as hostile, and each workload must be authenticated, authorized, and continuously validated for its security configurations and posture. This protection travels with the workload, regardless of whether they’re communicating across public clouds, private networks, or containers, and it can be easily implemented without requiring architectural changes or policy updates. This flexibility supports a safe digital transformation while accommodating hybrid working and the evolving business requirements of today’s workforce.