There has never been a better opportunity to implement zero-trust security approaches than now. Technology has progressed, protocols and standards have been established, and the need for a fresh approach to security cannot be overlooked.
Over the last several years, the zero trust cybersecurity architecture has gained traction across organizations, as businesses and government agencies have attempted to improve security by focusing less on the network perimeter. When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, forcing much of the globe to communicate completely online, the relevance of zero trust security and the “never trust, always verify” concept that underpins it skyrocketed.
Employees began working remotely and accessing resources from their homes all of a sudden. Online shopping and e-commerce have become the primary means of transacting between businesses and individuals. While the transition opened up many positive possibilities, it also gave bad actors new opportunities to infiltrate into networks and systems. As a result, better defenses were required, with the realization that bad actors only need to identify one access point, whereas companies should defend their entire footprint.
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Security solutions based on zero trust have been established for over ten years, and the idea is still evolving. A solid identity and access management structure is required in a real zero-trust environment. The following elements are essential for success:
Identifiers that are unique
For authentication and authorization, each user must have an identity, but more information is needed to build this framework. When devices have access to networks and systems, user and device information must be classified. This information is integrated to build a profile for identity and access management (IAM) deployments that includes a unique identifier. Provisioning rights, privileged access, physical access, and other IAM operations are all aided by the resulting “trust score.”
Framework for collaboration
A structure that facilitates collaboration among individuals who manage systems and data is another great practice. This type of architecture improves user experiences while also revealing possibilities to boost efficiencies through automation and other process changes.
Finally, for zero-trust security to succeed, a culture that understands and stresses the need for cybersecurity throughout the business is critical.
Taking advantage of resources
External industry resources are used as part of an effective zero trust security strategy to assist strengthen the program even more.
The National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (NIST) Zero Trust Architecture (ZTA) is one of the useful resources provided to security teams. The zero-trust principles, logical components of ZTA, deployment scenarios/use cases, and risks related to ZTA and ZTA are all covered in the NIST document outlining the architecture. It also discusses potential conflicts with existing federal guidance and the transition to ZTA.
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Another resource is the Department of Defense (DoD) Zero Trust Reference Architecture, organized by the Joint Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) and National Security Agency (NSA) Zero Trust Engineering Team. The reference architecture outlines standards and capabilities, with the Department of Defense stating that the design will change as zero trust needs, technology, and best practices advance.
Organizations can design and manage a zero-trust cybersecurity program to assist protect against emerging risks in this distributed environment by utilizing existing tools and implementing best practices.
Zero trust is more than a marketing gimmick. It’s a paradigm shift in security that enhances security while lowering user friction and it’s become essential in a more challenging risk environment.
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