Zero trust is a cybersecurity framework that has become a term often misused and misunderstood. This article will define zero-trust network access (ZTNA) and the core principles behind the concept.
What is Zero Trust Security (and Why Does it Matter)?
First, it's essential to define what ZTNA is—and what it's not. As a quick definition, ZTNA means everything is suspicious. There are no blanket levels of general accessibility, and each step in the process requires verification. Whenever a user or device tries to access a resource, they must identify their identity before granting access. And even after giving access, if another resource needs to be accessed, the verification process starts again.
In more detail, Gartner defines zero-trust network access as a product or service that creates an identity- and context-based, logical access boundary around an application or set of applications.
All applications are hidden, and access is denied until a trusted broker can verify the user's identity, context, and policy adherence before allowing access. Lateral movement is prohibited anywhere else in the network, such as in another application or file.
Therefore, there is less for an attacker to see and target with applications hidden.
Zero trust is crucial because even if an attacker slips past your firewall and other defensive systems, they are isolated and unable to move deeper into the system, saving organizations time and money since attacks and damage are minimized.
The History of Zero Trust
Zero trust developed from the idea of "trusted" and "untrusted." With zero trust, everything is suspicious. All applications are hidden, and access is denied until identity, context, and privileges are verified.
Key Zero Trust Benefits
A zero-trust approach is more practical for cybersecurity. Network perimeters have become more dynamic, and zero-trust steps away from protecting those parameters to preserving your applications and data.
Zero trust does this through the following benefits:
- Reduces risk. Assuming devices or users are trustworthy puts organizations at risk. Adopting a zero trust strategy puts suspicion on each interaction and allows for reduced liability.
- Decreases vulnerability. Zero trust makes it possible to see who and what is connected to the network.
- Extends security. Unlike VPN, ZTNA can extend past the network layer, providing application security independent of the network.
Zero Trust Principles
The least privilege principle isn't new, but it is a guiding principle in zero trust. Users are only given the minimum amount of access they need.
Device Access Control
Zero trust also means implementing something similar for devices, building on the idea of least privilege for users. Zero trust systems monitor how many devices are trying to access the network, ensure each machine is allowed, and assess the devices to ensure they haven't been compromised.
Microsegmentation involves breaking up security perimeters into small zones, so each zone needs separate access for each part of the network.
Continuous Monitoring and Validation
The zero trust base assumes that attackers have already infiltrated the network, so no users or devices should be trusted automatically. Zero trust requires verification of user and device identity and privileges, and connections time out periodically once established. This forces users and devices to re-verify.
Preventing Lateral Movement
Lateral movement is when an attacker moves within a network after gaining access. It's hard to detect even if the entry point is discovered.
Zero trust contains attackers so they cannot move laterally. Since access is segmented and requires re-verification periodically, the attacker cannot move freely throughout the network. When the attacker is detected, the infected device or account can be quarantined and cut off from the network.
Like any good security plan, multifactor authentication is a core principle. MFA requires more than one method of verification to authenticate a user.
Why Adopt Zero Trust
Zero trust allows users access to the resources they need for their jobs no matter where they are while providing additional protection to the network.
How Anteris can help
Zero trust may sound complex to implement, but working with the right partner can make it simple.
At Anteris, we make security a top priority. As cybersecurity professionals, our security services support your business and protect your data from outside threats.
We pride ourselves on being lifelong learners. Being a security expert doesn't mean that someone has learned everything they need to know about cybersecurity. That's impossible. It's always changing. We know that and recognize that cybersecurity is an ever-evolving process to assess, align, and act, and keep moving forward as cybersecurity changes.
While there is no guaranteed protection against threat, we also have best practices for recovery in the event of a security breach.
Let us make your technology freeing, not frustrating.