Implementing & Maintaining a Zero Trust Security Model for Your Enterprise

zero trust security model portnox

Protecting a company’s assets is becoming quite expensive. Many enterprises often carefully assess potential new solutions before deciding to venture into the technology. However, as costly as some of these solutions come, protecting all digital assets remains paramount. 

The zero trust security model has in fact been around for years. It is a strategy that requires internal and external network users to prove themselves regularly. We can say that cyber-attacks are on an exponential rise. It is, therefore, a clear indication that depending on traditional security strategies could become detrimental to any organization.   

Despite this situation, many companies still hesitate to adopt zero trust security. They view it as a disruptive strategy to their businesses. But is it? Adopting and implementing a zero-trust architecture is a strategy worth considering. For one, there’s no dramatic activity associated with its use. It is a gradual and cost-effective process with minimal downtime and business disruption. 

What is a Zero Trust Security Model?

A zero trust security model requires all network users (inside and outside) to undergo a continuous verification and validation process before accessing the network resources.   

When users access different networks, there are always data exchanges between these multiple networks and user devices. One major risk businesses face is the possibility of data breaches. It is the reason a system should not assume that any device is safe or trusted. For a zero trust  strategy, the idea here is continuous authentication. This process requires integration within the zero trust network design and the core philosophy.  

The importance of establishing a zero-trust network is basically to protect critical data. It also improves access control and management by validating the network attributes. 

Components of a Zero Trust Security Model

The zero trust security model focuses on three key components: user/application authentication, device authentication, and trust score. 

Authentication of Users & Applications

As the name zero trust sums it all up – trust no one and treat everyone and everything as a potential threat. The core philosophy of the model states that the identity of every device or attempting to access network resources needs verification. It further states that all traffic first appears malicious. The zero trust security model is a binding rule, whether inside or outside the network perimeter.  

Device Authentication

Beyond the user and application, authentication and authorization of the device is also crucial. This is in many cases feature that many services and resources protected by perimeter networks lack. 

Trust Scores

Trust scores follow computed policies binding on the application, users, and devices. The policy gives authorization to the request (access control) and can adapt to varying conditions. 

With the authorized request in place, the control plane sends a signal to the data plane for acceptance. There’s also the configuration of encrypted details in this process, applied at any level: application and device. 

Zero Trust Use Cases

  • Offers security surrounding  third parties and other non-employees  within the corporate network.   
  • Protection for remote workers accessing public cloud resources. 
  • Security and visibility for businesses with an IoT presence.  
  • Securing traditional Windows applications. 
  • Accessing and controlling operational technology stations from the IT environment. 
  • Supporting globally distributed teams using VPN or virtual desktop infrastructure. 

5 Steps for Implementing a Zero Trust Security Model

The implementation of a zero trust security strategy requires a step-by-step process.  Here’s are some tips and best practices to guarantee a smooth transition to zero trust security. 

Defining & Protecting Your Threat Surface

Traditional security strategies focus on defining and defending attack surfaces. The idea is often to create a security perimeter and to keep sensitive data away from the perimeter. However, with the increasing rise in cyber-attacks, identifying and defining potential entry points is becoming more challenging. In addition, let’s not forget the high costs associated with the processes.  

A zero trust security strategy involves clearly defining a protected surface, and while focusing on specific components and frameworks within the network.  

A protected surface includes critical aspects of the enterprise, such as data, applications, assets, and services (DAAS).  

Stipulate DAAS Interdependencies

After defining the protected surface, the next stage is to map its traffic flow and interdependence. This flow includes instructions and data that give valuable insight into an overlapping network. While mapping, organizations need to document how specific resources interact while including every detail and direction related to the data exchange pathway.  

The entire procedure is a guarantee of safeguarding a protected surface that avoids  the accidental breaking of any related applications, services, or workflows. 

Designing  Your Zero Trust Architecture

Every zero trust network comes with customization for protecting surfaces. With this, organizations can build out their zero-trust network architecture. Start with installing a next-generation firewall  as a segmentation gateway. The goal is to prevent unauthorized access to the protected surface via micro-perimeters around it.   

Next, update the segmentation gateway with more layers of access control. Installing layer-7 protection can serve as a good choice.   

Establishing a Zero Trust Policy

Of course, prior to creating zero trust security policies you need to create zero trust.  

Using the “Kipling Method” will help to determine access. For this reason, asking the following questions becomes crucial 

  • Who has access to this resource? 
  • What internal application is needed? 
  • When will the resource be accessed? 
  • Where is the resource destination? 
  • What is the need to access it? 
  • How is access to this resource taking place?
Monitor & Optimize

The final step is to monitor, audit, and maintain a continuous log c. It is equally important to frequently monitor all user and device communication in and out of a new micro-perimeter. It then becomes easier to detect and remediate potential latency and performance issues while creating a baseline for normal behaviors. 

Zero Trust Security Model Best Practices

Zero trust can make a big Here are some key takeaways for implementing and maintaining a zero trust security model across your corporate network: 

  • Assess all zero trust security capabilities. 
  • Use multi-factor authentication (MFA), single sign-on (SSO), and passwordless authentication. 
  • Data discovery and classification. 
  • Keep  network-connected devices up-to-date with the latest  patches and firmware. Be sure to replace outdated devices.  
  • Always monitor the network and device attributes consistently. 

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