The Complete Guide to Zero Trust Architecture

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“Zero-Trust Architecture is an enterprise’s cybersecurity plan that utilizes zero-trust concepts and encompasses component relationships, workflow planning, and access policies.” — National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

Businesses are constantly under threat by bad actors looking for ways to penetrate security systems. Traditional perimeter defenses are increasingly ineffective in stopping the initial breach or preventing cyberattackers from then accessing the entire network, especially in the case of an insider threat.That’s where the zero trust security model comes into play, with its credo of “trust nothing; verify everything.” This means that access to any resource within a network always must be subject to specified trust dimensions, or parameters. If these parameters are not met at any time, access is either denied or revoked. This model stands in complete contrast to traditional security models that assume implicit trust within the network perimeter, as with an employee who automatically has carte blanche within the entire network.

What Is Zero Trust Architecture?

The zero trust security model strives to make enterprises resilient to cyberthreats by continuously identifying and eliminating uncertainty in enforcing security rules. And zero trust architecture is the framework, or blueprint, for implementing the principles of zero trust.

Zero trust architecture is designed with the realities of the current threat landscape in mind: enterprises cannot detect and block every threat; however, zero trust practices can improve a business’s security posture by implementing ways to grant and control access across the network.

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The 3 Security Domains of Zero Trust Architecture

Zero trust architecture is based on the premise that attackers are already present in a network. Yet, with zero trust principles in place, an enterprise becomes cyber resilient and can carefully prevent a threat actor’s access to applications, servers, and endpoints by following the key tenets of zero trust architecture.

These seven ZTA tenets fall into three security domains:

ZTA Domain 1: Granting Access

On what basis does one grant access? How does one determine and verify the identity of an accessor, the integrity of an accessor, and the state of an accessor? The three tenets within the “Granting Access” domain are “Authentication and Authorization,” “Integrity,” and “Observable State.” If these three tenets are not properly implemented, unauthorized or compromised users or devices may get access when they shouldn’t.

ZTA Domain 2: Controlling Access

How much access does one grant, and for how long in terms of both time and activity? These determinations fall under the ZTA principle of least privilege. The two tenets within the “Controlling Access” domain are “Minimal Access in Size” and “Minimal Access in Time.” If these tenets are not implemented correctly, an enterprise risks granting too much access, which could lead to a security breach.

ZTA Domain 3: Monitoring and Securing Access

When zero trust access protocols are established, access must be continuously monitored and secured. The two tenets within the “Monitoring and Securing Access” domain are “Monitor All Access” and “Encrypt All Access.” If these tenets are not followed, the zero trust architecture could be vulnerable to network, infrastructure, and environment attacks.

It’s vital that organizations properly control these domains to make their zero trust architecture bulletproof.

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Securing Modern Enterprises: The Need for Zero Trust

Organizations worldwide are embracing digital transformation in many parts of their business, but security is often overlooked. Traditional security technologies do not consider today’s complex cyberthreat landscape or new normal of remote work, cloud migration, and distributed IT infrastructure. Securing modern enterprises requires implementing a zero trust architecture.

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Top 10 Reasons Zero Trust Is the Right Cybersecurity Solution

Infosec leaders from around the world increasingly ask about the zero trust security model. They want to know how they can adopt and implement zero trust, but it’s also important for them to understand the benefits of zero trust cybersecurity.

Here are the top 10 reasons that explain the benefits of a zero trust strategy and how it can improve security postures for enterprises, organizations, and governments.

  1. The Evolving Enterprise
  2. Cloud Data Centers
  3. Third-Party SaaS and PaaS Applications
  4. The Internet Network
  5. The Expanding Workforce
  6. The New Normal of Work from Home
  7. The Shift from Work Devices to BYOD
  8. The Ubiquity of Cyberattacks
  9. The Evolution of Targeted Advanced Persistent Threats
  10. Higher Security Stakes
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The Future Is Zero Trust

Even as the world continues to change, the need for cybersecurity will remain a constant for businesses trying to protect their customers, employees, data, and IP. Cybercriminals thrive on chaos, agilely taking advantage during major disruptions to attack businesses that are defenseless. Worse, they also target enterprises that have a false sense of cybersecurity, believing their perimeters are protected and impenetrable. The most secure way forward for all business entities is to understand the limitations of traditional perimeter-based security and to step into the future by implementing the zero trust security model.

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