It’s safe to say that we are at a juncture where Zero Trust architecture is being heralded as the gold standard when it comes to cybersecurity. This architecture gives top priority to user behavior and assets as the primary line of defense from cyber threats. Even though the vast majority of companies worldwide have adopted Zero Trust, only 1% actually meet the requirements.
The organizational approach to taking on cybersecurity as a measure has gone through a drastic overhaul. It’s hard to believe that just a few years ago, millions of dollars were poured into expensive and bloated software built to protect organizations’ endpoints from external threats while today, organizations are spending the same amount of money, if not more, to protect their endpoints from you, the user.
When an organization invests in cybersecurity from the inside out, it should commit to implementing it correctly during every phase of the process. Here are four key areas to focus on to build an effective Zero Trust architecture.
1. Network visibility and monitoring: Understanding the state and scope of your network is imperative for making key access-related decisions. To do this, the IT administrator must take stock of all sensitive data, assets, and services within the network. Once this has been determined, it is important to understand the different types of users, what applications and services they need to use, and what access is required to access them. The key is to start by providing the least access to all the users, and to continuously monitor each application to validate its behavior.
2. Authentication and authorize: Zero Trust welcomes the generally frowned-upon principle of making assumptions. Its philosophy assumes that every endpoint is a vulnerability and every user is a threat. Further, all it requires that access be denied by default, and only be provided upon request, subject to inhuman levels of scrutiny. MFA is the most effective way currently in use to authenticate a user. Once it’s established that the user is who they’re claiming to be, the next step is to ensure that only the relevant level of access is provided to the user.
3. Automation and orchestration: SOAR is the new kid in town. This is an umbrella term used to describe a collection of software that can identify and gather information about security threats and respond to them with little or no human intervention. Security orchestration allows applications, such as vulnerability scanners and endpoint monitoring tools, to be connected and integrated in order to gather valuable data that can help with early threat detection and provide timely alerts and analysis. Upon processing this data and alerts, security automation uses AI and ML to automate mitigating tasks, prioritizing threats, making recommendations, and handling future responses.
4. Data security: At the core of an organization’s Zero Trust architecture lies its most valuable asset: data. Some argue that taking a data-centric approach to Zero Trust is the right approach; after all, this is the asset that the company is aiming to protect. The workplaces we know today are mostly hybrids with endpoints spread across a vast area, and connected to many kinds of networks. With this workforce model, it is easy for data to be compromised. The best way for an organization to tackle this is to assume that their data has already been compromised, and put mitigating factors, such as asset inventory and security audits, in place to limit the impact of the breach.
The Zero Trust philosophy is a long and meticulous journey towards cybersecurity that every organization should implement to bolster its infrastructure by using the right architecture, and adapting the four principles we discussed in this blog. With all the restrictions and authentication walls in place, you can rest easy knowing that your organization’s Zero Trust architecture is headed along the right path.