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What is Zero Trust?

by Juliana De Groot on Monday February 25, 2019

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Learn why the Zero Trust model may be more secure than traditional network security in this week's Data Protection 101.

Zero Trust is a security-centered model based on the idea that an enterprise should not have a default trust option for anything outside or inside of its boundaries. Instead, it must authenticate everything that tries to gain access and connect to the system before access is granted.

Definition of Zero Trust

Traditional network security is based on a concept known as castle-and-moat, where it is difficult to gain access from the outside but there is default trust with everyone within the network. The problem with this strategy is that if a hacker manages to pose as an insider, the hacker will have access to everything within the network.

Thus, the Zero Trust model proposes that companies should disconnect all access until the network has verified the user and knows that they are authorized. Nothing and no one has access until they have been authenticated and need access to the network for a valid reason. To achieve this, there needs to be an adaptable security strategy that leverages modern technology.

Why Zero Trust?

According to Cyber Crime Statistics, 43% of businesses were hit by a cybersecurity breach in 2018, and the state of California alone lost more than $214 million due to cybercrime. These statistics illustrate the magnitude of monetary loss and the challenges that businesses will face if they fail to protect confidential and personal data.

Today, many organizations have critical data and information stored in the cloud, which makes it even more important to verify and authorize users before granting access.

In addition to that, users now access data and applications across the network and are increasingly mobile. They can also use personal and public devices to access organizational data on the network as well as in the cloud. This further necessitates that access at all levels must be governed by the Zero Trust policy.

How the Zero Trust Model Works

The Zero Trust model relies on first creating a secure environment using continuous infrastructure transformation. It requires thinking differently and being a step ahead of hackers in order to provide a secure environment.

The model requires the security team to implement multi-factor authentication to access various micro segments of the network for high security, effectively making it difficult for hackers to obtain all of the information they would need to access someone’s account.

The model also includes a high-level risk management philosophy that builds on anomaly detection and data analytics. This helps in curbing security threats and aids in quicker detection and response to a security breach.

What is Zero Trust Networking?

Zero Trust Networking is a security model that stops lateral movement within the corporate network. This means that a user who is on the same corporate level as his or her colleague will be prevented from having the same access as that counterpart.

The model is accomplished by adding perimeters for verification at each step within the network. It uses micro-segmentation and adds granular perimeters at critical locations in the network. This prevents a malicious insider from having access to sensitive data and system processes.

Zero Trust networking also eliminates the drawback of the traditional perimeter-based security model by completely removing trust entitled to internal users and tightening security around valuable assets.

The Technology Behind Zero Trust

Zero Trust begins with giving users access, as per the governing policies of the organization, only for the limited time they need to accomplish a specific task. In addition to that, it pulls in the latest technologies revolving around scoring, file system permissions, orchestration, analytics, and multifactor authentication.

Zero Trust is not only about the technology. It also develops security parameters by understanding the business process, the stakeholders, and their mindsets as well. Security is designed from the inside out, instead of vice versa.

Benefits of Zero Trust Security

Aside from providing a more secure environment, the primary benefit of Zero Trust Security is that it overcomes the limitations of firewalls and perimeter-based security for networks. Zero Trust also emphasizes accurate and effective verification of user credentials at regular intervals within the network. It incorporates the use of perimeter protection and encryption to safeguard targeted systems.

Zero Trust serves as a barrier to safeguard an application, its processes, and data against malicious insiders and hackers. With effective implementation, the Zero Trust Security model could set a new cybersecurity paradigm.

Tags: Data Protection 101, Zero Trust

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Juliana de Groot

Juliana is a Marketing Operations Specialist at Digital Guardian. Prior to joining DG, she worked at Dell and CarGurus. She graduated Bentley University with a Bachelor of Science in Marketing with a minor in psychology.