December 14, 2022

Zero Trust has been making headlines in technology and business circles. Some believe it is a sales pitch, and there's a lot of hype surrounding a hard-to-implement security technology. Others argue that Zero Trust is too complex to implement. 

On November 30th 2022, C-Vision International hosted the 2022 CISO Virtual Council in partnership with Zscaler. In this virtual council, security experts shared valuable insights on implementing this into your environment.

Do you want to implement Zero Trust in your organization? Regardless of the answer, we all need to understand it, what it means and how to implement it.

"Zero Trust" explained.

The Zero Trust model is meant to reduce the risk of data breaches and malicious actors.

Zero Trust is the idea that a system should not trust a user until the user has proven they are who they say they are. It's not about passwords or encryption but how you treat your users and their data.

The panel agreed, more than being a technology policy it's really an organizational policy that you have to put in place at the beginning of your journey and it has to be one that you can sustain over time because there are some real business consequences associated if you don't take a long term approach to this kind of thing.

This approach has become popular with organizations because it allows them to manage their data privacy issues. Instead of setting up strict procedures for each employee who wants access to sensitive information on the network, organizations can simply block all unnecessary access from users without having to worry about specific cases where someone might misuse this.

Why should you implement "Zero Trust" architecture in your organization?

It's a strategy that allows organizations to move away from information security risk, drive customer buy-in, and completely alter how they approach adopting new technology.

Some benefits of implementing Zero Trust architecture in any organization are listed below:

  • Protection against external and internal threats:

To access the business's data, external threats or hackers must get past the external security defenses. The fact that internal threat actors occasionally jeopardize the organization's data without intending to do so and may even be unwitting accomplices in crime makes them even harder to get recognized.

However, with Zero Trust architecture, any deviation from normal network traffic is automatically detected and checked for potential harmful activity because Zero Trust runs on baseline activity standards. This aids in lowering risk exposure overall.

  • Increased visibility of every user:

Adaptive identity-based access control is the core of zero trust. This adaptable balancing of authority by trust levels contributes to forming a dynamic, adaptive security closed loop with a high capacity for risk management.

As a result, all systems and data are secured to their fullest extent since it gives users improved insight into all data access activities. Since data monitoring is built into the design, you have complete insight over who accesses your data, when, from where, and where. This will make it easier for the organization's security system to identify undesirable actions or data entry attempts.

  • Regulatory compliance support:

Organizations are highly concerned about new regulatory compliances like the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), HIPAA, and a host of other regulatory compliance rules.

The problem presented by these restrictions is how to safeguard and protect the data. Every time a movement is made in a Zero Trust architecture, the identity and payload are authenticated, which aids in preventing attacks before they can access data.

How can you start your "Zero Trust" Implementation Process?

The following points describe the steps you need to take to start your Zero Trust Implementation Process today. 

  • Focus on the identity of users:

This implies verifying that users are who they claim to be. 

For instance, Joe Biden's identity must be verified when he accesses his White House email account. Many businesses—including Apple, Netflix, and your bank—send you codes via your phone for identity verification purposes. It's a strategy known as multifactor authentication (MFA).

However, it has a significant flaw: MFA primarily utilizes cloud-based solutions. Covering on-premise infrastructure, which is still vast despite all the cloud hoopla, is where many firms struggle with MFA. 98% of firms rely on on-prem infrastructure, according to a Spiceworks report (via CIO Dive). That creates a significant gap that MFA needs to fill.

  • Micro-segmentation:

Micro-segmentation installs gates in your system to stop attackers from targeting one thing and then migrating to your database. 

Phishing typically involves gaining access to a corporate network to move about and uncover sensitive information rather than attacking a specific user. Many firms adopt the opposite of zero trust and allow everything once they are on a network. 

Segmentation creates a zero-trust environment by making you believe that there is no firewall keeping bad actors out and that they have already gained access. The issue is that segmentation is still challenging and time-consuming, sometimes requiring actual physical labor to isolate various portions of the company.

  • Beware of false advertising:

Zero trust has become a distracting industry buzzword, which may seem like a diversion. These days, many manufacturers claim zero-trust capabilities that are just a cover for a subtle commercial advertisement, turning zero trust into irrelevant jargon. 

These marketing initiatives resemble intrusive and unpleasant YouTube commercials at best. At worst, they misinterpret what zero trust really means. Thus, make sure the phrase "purchase me" is not being used if a vendor uses the phrase "zero trust."

Zero Trust has become a proven methodology for addressing digital security concerns. If followed correctly, the Zero Trust Strategy can prevent data breaches, implement a more secure business environment and nullify today's incoming threats. 

Zero Trust is not a magical cure-all solution to cyber-attacks, and it takes time to transition toward this model. The challenge is not finding existing "best practices or research" but translating the information into actionable instructions. There is always a gap between the concept and its implementation in reality, even with proven technology and processes. 

Having sufficient support from management from the conceptualization and strategic planning all the way to the tactical execution can take time and effort. CISOs and their executive management must have the proper tools, techniques, and help from IT Security Professionals to successfully migrate to the Zero Trust Model. 

CISOs and other C-level executives need to be educated about the potential risks within their organizations. They must know how to prepare themselves and assess these risks in advance. 

Through these events, C-Vision International aims to give them a clear understanding of what they will deal with over the next few years. Learn about new security frameworks and their implementation through C-Vision's upcoming events.