Whether you have a distributed workforce or take a hybrid approach, the age of perimeter-based security is over. Threats are persistent. And virtual private networks (VPNs) and network firewalls can’t fully protect your organization. However, learning how to implement zero trust can significantly decrease security incidents.
A zero-trust security model treats every transaction as suspicious. It verifies all devices, users and applications before granting access. But there are challenges to zero-trust network implementation, and companies must plan their approach thoughtfully.
Understanding the Zero-Trust Model
Zero trust means what it sounds like: Nothing is trusted inside or outside of your organization’s boundaries. No device or user gains access based on merits, superiority or familiarity. Once a user is authenticated and authorized, they have just enough access to do their job (known as the principle of least privilege), and transactions are continuously monitored.
A zero-trust network or zero-trust architecture leverages different technologies, governance policies and processes. Companies incorporate microsegmentation and identity and access management (IAM) to secure networks.
According to Microsoft, an ideal zero-trust environment includes:
- Universal multifactor authentication (MFA)
- Continual device health validation
- Real-time monitoring and control
- Enforced principle of least privilege
How To Implement Zero-Trust Architecture
Many organizations are already using individual technologies related to zero trust. However, an ideal zero-trust environment requires a shift in your corporate mindset and a concise strategy. Like other cybersecurity programs, efforts are ongoing, multilayered and occur in stages.
1. Create a Team Dedicated to Zero-Trust Initiatives
Appoint a small team to outline how to implement zero trust at your business. This is preferable to tasking an existing group with new goals. Their objectives are to evaluate, plan and execute the strategy.
TechTarget recommends involving members from various security teams, including:
- Network and infrastructure
- Application and data
- User and device
- Security operations center
- Risk management
2. Evaluate Users, Devices and Processes
Before prioritizing your zero-trust activities, you must understand every potential vulnerability. Identify who accesses your digital resources and which users have privileged access. Next, create an asset catalog listing all hardware that connects to your network. Lastly, review all applications and define your core processes.
3. Select Your Zero-Trust Technology Path
Zero-trust implementation happens in phases, and the best route for your organization is one that addresses the most significant needs of your current environment. In Microsoft’s case, they separated initiatives into four verification categories: identity, device, access and services. However, there are different on-ramps to zero-trust implementation.
User and device identity is a good fit for companies with remote teams relying on cloud-based tools. Associated technologies include zero-trust network access (ZTNA) with MFA and IAM.
Businesses with critical, cloud-based applications and data may prefer to secure these first through container security and data loss prevention technologies. However, network security is your first priority if your company maintains an on-premise data center.
Jump-Start Your Zero-Trust Implementation
Security is crucial to your organization, yet traditional methods no longer work, putting your company’s future at risk. Zero-trust initiatives reduce significant security incidents. Indeed, a Nemertes research study found that “the most successful organizations are 137% more likely to have adopted a zero-trust approach to security than everyone else.”
The Migus Group can help you define your zero-trust strategy and put your architecture in place. With a comprehensive approach, you can reduce external and internal threats. Contact The Migus Group to take your first steps toward implementing zero trust at your business.
Jessica Elliott is a business technology writer specializing in cloud-hosted and cybersecurity services. Her work appears in U.S. News, Business.com and Investopedia.
- Nemertes — Operationalizing Zero Trust
- Microsoft — Implementing a Zero Trust security model at Microsoft
- NIST — Zero Trust Architecture
- TechTarget — 7 steps for implementing zero trust, with real-life examples