Today’s hybrid IT environment and enterprise trends have forced businesses to adapt their security measures. Traditional approaches which assume that every user within an enterprise’s network perimeter is trustworthy and will act responsibly is no longer enough to safeguard enterprise assets and prevent data breaches. The focus of classic approaches to network security is to strengthen the network perimeter and grant full access to corporate data once credentials are validated. It aims at keeping potential threats outside. However, this means that once a threat actor or malicious insider is inside the system, they are able to move laterally within and access whatever data they want. With the proliferation of remote infrastructure and cloud-based assets, everything is becoming progressively interconnected. This makes it not only more complicated for businesses to secure the many entry points but also easier for insider threats to find their way in with the increased attack surface area. In other words, the traditional type of trust-based security system crumbles and ultimately fails in today’s evolving and complex IT world where users access all types of apps on all types of devices from many locations inside and outside the corporate network. In order to defend against cloud-based threats and reduce risk exposure, organisations need a more secure, flexible, and dynamic model of network security like the zero trust model which eliminates the concept of trust from an organisation’s network architecture and is rooted in the principle of ‘never trust, always verify’.
The Zero Trust Model
The Zero Trust Model is a strategic initiative that protects the modern digital environment by eliminating the necessity of trust within the network. Regardless of where the users are, which devices are being used, or where the workloads and data are being hosted, unless there is a valid identity and authorisation to interact in that database, users will not be able to access the information. By understanding who the user is, limiting access rights to the bare minimum, and monitoring exactly who is accessing the network, companies can create a more secure environment and prevent access to unauthorised users and exfiltration of sensitive data.
Implementing zero trust network access is a preferred choice for network security because of its ability to streamline operations and security to a cloud-services approach. It builds upon the existing architecture and is relatively simple to deploy, implement, and maintain. The simplified IT network and reduced complexity allow for easier and scalable modifications to the network architecture that is user friendly. Zero trust network access increases the visibility of users, devices, components and more across the entire work environment to better detect and respond efficiently to threats. When combined with predictive and behavioural analytics, security teams can use the evaluated data to apply security policies, enforce compliance, and reduce risk.
Zero Trust Access in the Workforce, Workload, and the Workplace
For this holistic approach to work, the zero trust model must be applied to the workforce, workload, and the workplace. Reinforcing the workforce refers to protecting users, devices, or applications against stolen credentials, phishing and other identity-based attacks. It verifies the users’ identity with multi-factor authentication (MFA) and establishes device trust before granting access to applications regardless of location. By combining adaptive and role-based access controls with endpoint detection and response technology, the workforce is not only better secured but is able to detect possible malicious endpoint activities.
Implementing the zero trust network to the workload means that the database inside the hybrid, multi-cloud system is more protected. By identifying the workload, segmenting applications, and continuously monitoring and determining indicators where data might be compromised, lateral movements within the network can be minimised and breaches can be contained quickly and effectively. Technologies such as network segmentation, transport encryption, and session protection help to classify and segment data to make it impossible for insiders to gain access to other isolated pockets of data. Supplementing these technologies with data loss prevention (DLP) tools can ensure that unwanted exfiltration or destruction of sensitive data within the website or cloud can be prevented.
Zero trust in the workplace does not refer to the physical space but rather the corporate network. Enterprises can gain insight into all the users and devices, identify threats, and maintain control over all connections within the network by granting the right level of network access with network authentication and authorisation, and classifying and segmenting users, devices, and applications on the network. By taking advantage of technology such as Next Generation Secure Web Gateway (Next Gen SWG) or Cloud Access Security Broker (CASB), corporations can detect and stop threats quickly before they reach the workforce, workload, and the workplace. Both of these are cloud-based web security solutions. CASB helps to protect against cloud-based threats by governing cloud usage and securing data while Next Gen SWG prevents malware while detecting advanced threats. By constantly monitoring and accessing movements within the network, it can protect against threats within the network effectively.
Implementing a Zero Trust Network for More Efficient Security
Assimilating a zero trust network into the company’s existing network security may sound complicated but there are a few key steps that you can take to get started on the right path.
First, divide your network into smaller, more isolated segments. As mentioned, microsegmenting and breaking up security perimeters to separate secure zones will reduce the risk of broad lateral movements. Enterprises should also require presentation of two or more authentication factors to increase security. Multi-factor authentication should include a mix of knowledge factors such as passwords or PIN numbers, possession factors like an ATM card or a mobile phone, or biometric factors. Implement the principle of least privilege by limiting access rights for applications, systems, and devices to the bare minimum they need to perform. This helps to create a more secure network environment and prevent access to unauthorised users. Lastly, make sure to validate all endpoint devices.
The biggest issue with traditional types of security networks is the assumption that all within the open network is trustworthy. Once the threat is on the inside, the security has a hard time tracking and identifying the threat. By extending the identity-centric controls to the endpoint, corporates can gain greater control and ensure that every device used to gain access to the database is recognised, verified, and only accessing resources that meet the security requirements.
As a recognised technical specialist in information security and premier provider of information infrastructure management solutions in the Asia Pacific market, Argentra provides IT security solutions, security risk consulting, and custom security software to help your corporation to better protect its sensitive and confidential information. Contact us here to learn more about information security or for our consultation services.