What is zero-trust security and how to implement it?

Trust no one.

Ever.

Outside your network or inside your network, don’t trust ‘em.

Verification is needed from every user trying to gain access to resources on your network.

That’s zero-trust security in a nutshell.

As you know, cyber security is vital to your business, and with more and more businesses moving to cloud architectures, not to mention remote working, the need for increased authentication and zero-trust security has become a priority.

According to polls by Deloitte, 37.4% of security professionals think the pandemic has sped up their organisation’s adoption of zero-trust security.

In this article, you’ll learn about what zero-trust security is, what it could mean to you and how to approach implementing it into your business.

 

What is zero-trust security?

Have you recently had to enter in a code sent to your mobile, in addition to your usual username and password authentication?

Well, that’s multi-factor authentication (MFA), and a foundation of zero-trust security.

Authenticate everywhere and control access to all your devices, services and data.

Even if it’s a service you’ve accessed previously, or a saved setting, for example.

The common metaphor that’s used is that traditional IT security is a ‘castle and moat’ scenario.

Defend your IT perimeters and assume everything inside the perimeter doesn’t pose a threat.

But experts say this approach no longer works.

Hackers who breach the moat and gain entry to the castle, have free reign to move through and across internal systems.

Plus, the single castle doesn’t really exist anymore.

Businesses these days don’t tend to have a central data center or centrally contained networks.

Some hardware, systems and applications may well be on your business premises for example, but more typically these days at least some will be in the cloud.

Not only that, with an increased working-from-home workforce, your employees, partners and customers will be accessing applications from a range of devices, networks and locations.

So, with a more distanced and segmented IT architecture, the need for increased monitoring, logging, authentication and controlled access becomes vital for your business.

 

The technology behind zero-trust security.

Essentially the technology behind zero-trust security enables businesses to manage segments of their networks and control who, what and when someone connects. It lets businesses determine whether to trust a user, device or application that’s trying to access a part of the network or system.

Some of the technologies used include:

-          Continuous monitoring and validation of traffic and activities.

-          Least privilege access. This essentially allows a user the least amount of access to data and services required.

-          Device access control.

-          Micro-segmentation. This uses network management techniques to restrict the flow of traffic within your network. It uses firewalls and virtual networks to force untrusted users or requests in the network to prove themselves repeatedly to access new areas.

-          No lateral movement. With zero-trust security one large perimeter no longer exists, it is instead made up of the micro-segmented areas. Therefore, lateral movement and traffic flow are more secure, restricted and controlled.

-          IAM (identity and access management). These systems provide you the tools to change a user’s role, track user activities, create activity reports and enforce policies – across a whole business enterprise.

-          MFA (multi-factor authentication).

 

You can probably guess that with the rise of remote working, the benefits of zero-trust security and MFA are coming into sharper focus.

For example:

-          Data can be seen only by users who are strongly authenticated and granted access.

-          Prevent data breaches and contain lateral movement.

-          Limit the ability of malware to cause harm.

-          Easily expand security protection across multiple networks and environments, independent of the underlying structure.

-          Better monitoring, logging, reporting and alerting improve detection and responses to threats.

 

How to implement zero-trust security.

You may need to steer the mindset of your company’s security strategies.

You’ll no doubt need to involve service providers, employees and contractors.

But don’t just throw technology at your strategy. Fully understand the strategies involved and evolve your technology accordingly.

There may be issues with legacy systems so maybe an iterative approach is called for.

Ideally, it’s best to implement a zero-trust policy when moving to cloud environments, as you transform your digital strategies or move to new systems and networks.

A good first step is to incorporate an MFA tool. This will encourage your business to:

-          Identify and prioritise your data.

-          Limit and control access. Authenticate access to all resources using MFA, for example.

-          Micro or granular segmentation.

-          Monitor continuously to better detect internal and external threats.

-          Incorporate least privilege-controlled access. I.e., access on a need-to-know basis. This becomes important with increased segmented security.

 

What next?

Hopefully, this article has helped introduce the idea of zero-trust security.

It’s important stuff, especially considering remote working and the move away from the traditional castle and moat approach to IT architectures and cyber security.

This article has come from part of our research that has uncovered some key findings that every UK CISO will want to know. We will be hosting a hybrid, interactive event that will be broadcast on the 15th October, 3:30 pm from a studio in London, UK to a live audience of CISOs and CTOs - Bluefort Live

If you want to find out more or discuss any of your current or potential cyber security requirements, just give us a call on 01252 917000, email enquiries@bluefort.com or get in touch via our contact form.