Trust, but verify is a rhyming Russian proverb, which was also used by U.S. President Ronald Reagan frequently when discussing U.S. relations with the Soviet Union. Today, the IT security universe is taking up the proverb seriously. Zero Trust is a security policy that focuses on the belief that organizations should not automatically trust anything inside or outside their own environment and instead verify everything that tries to connect to their system before granting access.
Zero Trust information security model
The Zero Trust information security model basically breaks the old fortress-and-ditch mentality of organizations focused on protecting their own environment and assuming that everything that already inside does not pose a threat and is therefore accessible. Security and technology experts who say that the fortress-and-ditch approach does not work a point out that some of the most terrible data breaches occur after hackers gain access to corporate firewalls so that they can act on internal systems without much resistance.
Today, modern corporate networks consist of interconnected zones, cloud services, and mobile environments. The zero-trust approach is getting more important because the traditional trusting devices within a corporate perimeter or connected via a VPN is not relevant in today’s complex IT environments.
It is very important to have a strict security model that constantly carries out checks to improve security in modern organizations where users and devices are far away and threats bypass traditional environmental defenses. Before accessing the network, all devices and users must be identified, authenticated, provided with the minimum necessary access, and then constantly monitored.,
Basic requirements of Zero Trust
Zero Trust also means being safe just an hour ago does not mean the system is still being safe. With that in mind, every access to the network or to the data must be re-evaluated based on the corporate policies, developed based on common security standards. As an advanced cybersecurity practitioner, it is not hard to say even the big companies don’t apply these standards properly.
Most systems allow the users to download, share, copy, modify, and transmit the data across the network and user devices without any access control systems. Thus, the data is also shared across the cloud services. Also please keep in mind that these organizations do not classify sensitive data. In any way, it is the responsibility of the corporate to keep the data safe, and as the data is stored or moved without any safeguards or controls, it becomes a big risk.
Zero Trust requires the following basic components:
- Comprehensive visibility – Active and passive discovery can help you implement controls, ensuring full visibility of all users and devices on your network.
- Minimal access micro-segmentation and control – Access control policies provide access to resources that are absolutely necessary for a device or user, and from other sources that are not required.
- Continuous monitoring and implementation – Continuous monitoring of users and devices on the network greatly reduce the risks associated with threats and malware.
Zero Trust should be well understood and implemented in each organization. The policies should be renewed and the scope should be expanded. Zero Trust must be applied to the whole corporate system including the cloud services. Within a Zero Trust implemented corporate, the security controls are not applied only when the data is accessed, but also each time it is shared or used.
Zero Trust in post-Covid era
Zero Trust helps to ensure network security in today’s working-age of mobility, IoT, and home environments. It limits exposure to security risks associated with vulnerable IoT devices and helps reduce the risk of advanced threats that bypass traditional environmental safety controls. Zero Trust also limits damage related to lateral movement by attackers and infected devices. It brings a more holistic approach to security, regardless of who or what is connected from where. Zero Trust applies best practices such as micro-segmentation for the “Least Access” approach.
The usefulness and importance of the Zero Trust approach to security have increased as remote working is adopted almost all over the world during the COVID-19 pandemic. It is still expected to see accelerated adoption of a remote working model in the post-Covid era, which means Zero Trust is also getting more important and becoming more common and widespread.
It will be more important for the corporates to adopt Zero Trust principles to enable their employees to access cloud-based services securely as well as on-premise services. In the near future, Zero Trust will also help remote working corporates to manage and orchestrate the whole system securely and implement the necessary safeguards and monitor them easily.