What is Zero Trust

What Is Zero Trust Architecture?

Technology is changing at a rapid rate. The days where you will commute to work to sit in front of one device from your office will potentially soon come to an end. Users can now work and access their data from anywhere in the world and instead of just one device (a computer) users have multiple devices. (mobile phones and tablets). Because of the shifting security threats that come with these new technologies and the growing demands of both businesses and end users, different security paradigms are constantly evolving. It is becoming increasingly harder to ensure these users and their data are protected and secure. Zero Trust architecture is here to focus in on and solves these issues.

Introducing Zero Trust Architecture

Zero Trust, Zero Trust Network, or Zero Trust Architecture is a security concept and threat model that no longer assumes that the user, systems or services operating from within the security perimeter should be automatically trusted, and instead must verify anything and everything trying to connect to its systems before granting access. If you have worked in the IT industry for some time you may be familiar with the term “trust but verify.” This is a concept many security methods are built on. In some cases it can work well, but when security is crucial, this may not be enough.

Zero Trust architecture takes a different take on security and revolve around a more strict concept of “never trust, always verify.” Typically anything or anyone that would be inherently trusted in other security methods, like internal servers and employees’ devices, aren’t trusted. This can reduce your risk against external threats, since even if they appear to be internal, they won’t be trusted.

Why Is Zero Trust Architecture Important for IoT?

If you use IoT devices, this will be one area where Zero Trust can be a necessary security measure to aid in protecting your infrastructure. IoT devices will typically require an internet connection and rely on the concept of trust but verify. More IoT devices means more potential attack vectors, and are becoming more of a target in larger hacks. When a cyber-security attack takes place, the point at which the attackers have entered the victim’s network is not usually where their target files or information are located. This is the reason why preventing lateral movement and access across the network is so important, it can stop an attacker from being able to reach their target.  If you trust IoT devices on premises, an attacker could use them to target other devices from the inside.

Implementing Zero Trust Architecture

A great place to start is by reviewing and improving identity and access management systems. The low hanging fruit are most commonly taken advantage of. This will often be a users complete lack of care when it comes to security, or even just a misconfigured authentication and authorisation controls by the IT department. Strong identification and authentication make the most sense as a starting point to ensure that all access is authenticated access. Identity and access management technologies represent the control plane for Zero Trust architectures. Starting with a strategic deployment of global, adaptive authentication and using this capability as the policy administration and decision point for which all risk signals and policy decision points integrate is how many are building their Zero Trust environments today.  

Ensure you pay special attention to your IoT devices. These devices are meant to be autonomous, so it can be tricky to constantly verify them. One way to handle it is to harden your internal devices as if they were exposed to the internet to keep them clear of vulnerabilities. This also includes bring-your-own-devices. The bottom line is if you can’t completely control a device, it shouldn’t be able to access anything.

Monitoring is also important here. If any unusual traffic or device activity is detected, this raises major flags. Fortunately, with a Zero Trust system, it should be easier to detect which user or device is the cause.

Conclusion

Zero trust is a better protocol to use to design and structure your security model placing the secure boundary between the human being and the sensitive data and systems. Using a zero trust model creates a solid basis for designing services and systems and forces a trust by verifying your users and devices. The growing needs of a user and business that creates a lack of perimeter doesn’t matter as new security measures are created that more closely reflect modern data movement.

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