The Pillars of Zero Trust Security

In today’s modern technological world, it is no longer enough to just keep people out. Cybercriminals have a myriad of ways to access networks and systems, whether legitimate or not. And once they’re inside, they can cause a lot of damage. One of the newest and most effective ways to reduce the number of cyber criminals who access your systems is to limit the number of people who can access those systems in general. And you can accomplish this with the Zero Trust security model.

What Is Zero Trust?

The principle of zero trust is based on the concept that no one is to be trusted to access your network and systems. Don’t think of it as a rigid framework. Rather, the idea behind the zero-trust concept is that there is an ongoing evaluation of the security and trust of all users and devices that request access to a network or system.

Zero trust is primarily concerned with protecting an organization’s data and services, but it can encompass the protection of all assets, such as applications, devices, and those that exist on the cloud. Previously, we discussed the principles of zero trust. Here, we’ll delve into the pillars of zero trust that hold it up as a vital contributor to your overall cybersecurity.

The Tenets of Zero Trust

Before we dive into the pillars of zero trust, there are some basic tenets of the concept you should be aware of. These are as follows:

  • Resources include all computing services and data.
  • All communication is to be secured, no matter where it takes place on the network.
  • Access to resources is granted on a per-session basis.
  • Access to resources is determined based on a policy that is fluid and encompasses identity, the service or application, the requesting asset, and additional environmental r behavioral characteristics.
  • All assets, whether owned or associated, are monitored closely by the organization.
  • There is strict enforcement of all authentication and authorization before access is granted.
  • As much information as possible about assets, network infrastructure, and communications is collected to ensure the improvement of the organization’s security.

The Five Pillars of Zero Trust

Adopting the zero-trust security model requires extensive planning in terms of logistics to shift from a strictly perimeter-based security model to one that includes zero trust. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) suggests seven pillars for a zero-trust architecture. Each organization has its own interpretation of this architecture. While you may want to implement all seven pillars suggested by the NIST, what follows here are what we consider to be the five key pillars of the zero-trust model that will help you integrate it into your cybersecurity landscape.

Identity and Access Management

Identity and access management (IAM) is the act of controlling who has access to your network and when they have that access. IAM combines technology with policies and processes to ensure that strict authentication is in place to confirm a user’s identity and access privileges. Read more about IAM here.

Network Segmentation

Network segmentation takes a traditional network architecture, in which all devices and servers can see all other devices and servers and divides that network into smaller segments that are completely independent of each other. This ensures that if one device or server is compromised, it won’t affect any others outside of that segment, and this can prevent a serious breach from happening.

Data Security

The security of your data is paramount to the security of your organization. You don’t want just anyone to have access to it. Data security involves limiting access to data based on functionality. Only users that require a certain set of data to do their job should have access to that data, and only for as long as they need it.

Device Security

Just as people want access to your network, so do endpoint devices and the software that runs on them. This access must be strictly controlled so that unknown programs can’t be run on your devices and that each device requesting access to your network is identified and authenticated before that access is granted. Once access is granted, ongoing monitoring is critical to stay informed about what these devices are doing on your network so you can identify malicious attacks and respond quickly.

Application Security

All applications that are used by your organization must be secured. The zero-trust security model requires strict control over applications, ensuring that an app only has access to the parts of the network that relate to its function. This means that an application should not be able to access all devices and servers.

Making Zero Trust Security Work

These pillars can only be fully effective with the proper supports in place. This includes high visibility into and close monitoring of network activity to be able to identify patterns in behavior and traffic that could indicate suspicious or malicious activity. This is aided using automation, such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, to detect anomalies, control configurations, and provide end-to-end visibility.

Upcoming articles will dive deeper into these pillars of zero trust to increase your awareness and knowledge about this important concept.

Reach out to Platinum Technologies to learn more about zero trust security and how you can use it to protect your network.

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