Modern enterprises need one unified, secure access solution that enables users to easily connect to internal applications from any device, wherever they are located. It also needs to simplify cybersecurity administration and improve end-user productivity.
Zero trust provides a security framework that ensures all users and devices are authenticated, authorized, and continuously validated for security posture and configuration. It uses micro-segmentation to keep attacks from moving across the network and requires multi-factor authentication to mitigate breaches.
1. Identity Management
Zero trust requires a robust Identity Management (IAM) system to verify and authenticate people, devices and applications. It also confirms whether the access request meets enterprise policies and follows the principle of least privilege by granting a level of access only for the resources and actions needed to accomplish a task.
An IAM system should be able to determine who an enterprise subject is, including their attributes like job title, tenure and security clearance. It should also synchronize with user directories and other user directories like human resources to ensure that identities are consistent across systems.
The system must detect and check the types of devices used for access, including mobile phones, laptops, desktops, IoT and other devices. It must also be able to track these assets over time and flag any anomalous behavior. Lastly, it should be able to regularly generate reports specific to the organization, export logs for compliance purposes and provide insights for optimizing user workflows without impacting security. A Zero Trust solution that can manage these requirements is necessary for deploying a successful security strategy.
2. Access Control
Zero trust access controls use a combination of technologies to ensure that a user is who they say they are and has the authority to be in a particular place. These include multi-factor authentication (MFA), which means that the person entering the system must provide more than just a password to prove their identity. It also has password hygiene policies that encourage employees to use strong passwords and anti-keylogging or anti-screen scraping tools to prevent malware from stealing passwords.
A core principle of zero trust network access providers is that access should be verified continuously and revoked when a threat occurs. This requires a device posture policy that evaluates a person’s device for signs of potential risk and a dynamic security policy that considers every app-level connection to ensure it meets the organization’s access parameters.
A zero-trust architecture also uses network segmentation to remove direct access to internal systems, which makes it harder for hackers to move between servers and databases. It may require some reorganization of IT infrastructure, but it can be much simpler to manage and maintain than traditional perimeter defenses.
3. Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)
MFA makes it harder for attackers to compromise credentials and gain access to accounts, systems and data. It requires at least two independent forms of verifiable information to confirm identity. These factors can range from something you have (like a physical hardware token or mobile phone) to something you know (like a password or PIN) and even something you are (like a biometric like fingerprints or facial recognition).
Users should be allowed to choose their preferred MFA methods to feel engaged with the security process. This increases user adoption and helps to make them more vigilant. It also helps to avoid weighing down IT teams with repetitive password reset requests.
MFA is key in zero trust network access because it is often used to verify the identities of remote users signing into the corporate VPN from outside the business firewall or when logging in from an external device, such as a laptop or smartphone. Additionally, advanced technologies like risk-based MFA and next-generation endpoint and cloud workload security should automatically capture contextual data to trigger the right authentication response at the right time.
Zero trust tools operate on the principle that all access requests must be verified and authenticated before granting permission to enter a system. This requires that devices (computers, tablets and mobile phones) and users be monitored continuously to ensure they meet all relevant security parameters.
This is a significant challenge in today’s highly distributed work-from-anywhere environment. Organizations use servers, proxies and databases to run internal applications and Software-as-a-Service solutions. They also operate multi-cloud infrastructure and use various operating systems (like Linux, MacOS and Windows).
Each environment can create unique challenges for implementing and maintaining a zero-trust architecture. You must ensure your system is configured to accommodate these different tools and operating systems to succeed. You must also continuously gather and analyze data to detect potential threats and identify ways to improve performance without compromising security.
This requires a robust technology set that can provide context for the identity, device, network and application, including risk-based multi-factor authentication, next-generation endpoint protection, security analytics and rules and cloud workload technology.
Automation is key when it comes to a zero-trust network access approach. It allows organizations to securely enable productivity across the internet while ensuring all devices, users and applications are continuously authenticated and authorized. It also updates security policies and controls automatically based on user activity and device risk, including the latest threat intelligence.
In a typical tech environment, you’ll have multiple servers, proxies, databases, internal apps, Software-as-a-Service solutions and more. The zero trust model separates these systems by deploying micro-segmentation techniques and implementing identity-based authentication to reduce your attack surface. It also ensures that any system accessed remotely only has the minimum privileges needed to perform its task. This is often accomplished by leveraging the Least Privilege Principle.
In conclusion, getting to a fully zero trust architecture can be challenging and time-consuming, especially when implementing, monitoring and updating different tools like micro-segmentation tools, software-defined perimeter solutions, identities-aware proxies and more.
But find the right partner to help you deploy a Zero Trust solution. They can reduce the complexity of your infrastructure while strengthening your security posture and simplifying cybersecurity operations.