Zero Trust has become a popular security approach as the traditional enterprise perimeter has disappeared as workers work remotely on their devices. This new type of network requires continuous verification of access to applications and data.
The core principle is “never trust, always verify.” Validation is done at the device and session level, reducing the attack surface rather than the entire system.
Authentication is verifying an individual’s identity to protect a system from cyber attacks and data theft. These systems include computer systems, networks, devices, websites and databases. In addition to a unique login and password, many organizations use multiple authentication factors for added security.
Zero-trust networks eliminate the need for implicit Trust between a device and enterprise applications, and they require strong authentication and authorization on every access attempt. This approach is based on the principle “never trust, always verify.”
All users and devices must be treated as potentially malicious until proven otherwise. This helps prevent phishing, credential stuffing and brute force attacks. It also limits the attack surface to prevent lateral movement by attackers once they are inside the network.
It is also important that the ZTNA solutions you choose offer granular visibility and reporting for compliance and security posture assessments. Find a resolution supporting managed and unmanaged devices and cloud or on-premises applications. The answer should also allow for adaptive conditional access based on device, user, time of day and type of service. This helps reduce the burden on security operations centers and delivers a better employee user experience. It should also support all security protocols, including TLS, SSL, HTTPS and SSH. This is essential for the migration of existing VPN solutions to Zero Trust.
For Zero Trust to work effectively, the network must be divided into segments that logically group assets like applications, servers, and datasets. This allows for fine-grained policies that control access and communications between them. To accomplish this:
- Start by identifying the most critical resources, their sensitivity and primary security risks.
- From there, determine what communications and access are needed for each asset to perform its job function.
- Use those requirements to build your micro-segmentation plan.
Traditional methods for network segmentation include creating VLANs and deploying hardware firewall appliances. However, these approaches must provide the granularity and agility necessary to protect against today’s dynamic threat landscape. Software-based micro-segmentation solutions eliminate the need for costly hardware and complex rules, providing an affordable way to secure modern IT infrastructure.
Illumio’s micro-segmentation solution defines network boundaries based on host workloads instead of IP addresses or VLANs. This creates reliable pathways between workloads that prevent attackers from moving laterally across the data center, reducing the scope of breaches and their impact on your organization. This enables you to enforce least-privilege access and contain attacks faster. Additionally, it provides visibility into your full network environment and granular policy controls for compliance purposes. This significantly shortens the time required to detect, analyze and respond to data breaches.
Least Privilege Access
The principle of least privilege access dictates that users should only be granted the bare minimum of permissions needed to complete their tasks. This is a fundamental component of Zero Trust that mitigates the risk of compromise, breach and illicit access to high-value data. It requires constant verification and evaluation of user identities, device integrity and security compliance to ensure that access privileges are valid and needed. Unfortunately, many organizations violate the principle of least privilege by granting more privileges than required to complete business functions and accumulating excessive rights over time as employees change jobs or responsibilities.
A privileged account with access to everything in the environment, from applications and data to backend infrastructure, is a major vulnerability for an organization. If a privileged account is compromised by malware or a click on a phishing link, attackers can travel laterally throughout the environment and cause significant damage to the organization.
Zero Trust uses micro-segmentation to divide the network into isolated segments or zones that contain granular access controls. Each segment is evaluated and secured based on its business value. Using this methodology prevents an attack from spreading and limits the impact of a potential compromise or breach. In addition, it allows organizations to implement a continuous authentication and authorization model that is consistent and automated, which eliminates manual workflows that could lead to human error.
Behavioral Workload Protection
As a Zero Trust solution monitors and controls applications, servers, and other devices, it can look for and detect abnormal behaviors. When it does, it can prevent unauthorized changes to system files and installed software that malware could attempt, such as substituting malicious code for legitimate ones. This reduces the risk of a successful attack.
Zero Trust implementations include continuous authentication and authorization, with policies defined, updated, and enforced from a central console. This gives security teams more control over user access and permissions, which can be hard to manage with traditional firewalls and VPN solutions.
Micro-segmentation separates network resources into smaller segments based on function and sensitivity, reducing the impact of a breach and making it harder for an attacker to move laterally across your system. It also supports the principle of least privilege, ensuring that users are granted only the permissions they need to perform their jobs and limiting the potential damage of a compromised account.
Zero Trust can be a great way to mitigate cybersecurity risks, but your team must have the resources and support necessary to implement a solution successfully. Fortunately, behavioral workload protection tools can help make the transition easier by automating most of the monitoring and setup, freeing up time for your team to focus on other projects that benefit the organization.