With the “Zero Trust” model, it is possible to increase security significantly: The security concept is based on the principle of not trusting devices, users, or services inside or outside your network. In today’s post, we look at how the Zero Trust model works and contrast the advantages with the disadvantages.
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Zero Trust: Don’t Trust Anyone!
Zero Trust is not a product but rather a technology philosophy, a framework idea that companies can implement. Zero Trust’s philosophy: “Don’t trust anyone blindly” – only verification can create Trust.
Specifically: Where Does Zero Trust Apply?
In this world full of cyber security threats, companies have a lot to cope with: Mobile workplaces such as the home office want to be just as secure as the company’s workplaces, and in both cases, countless devices and applications are used. The zero trust model starts with the fact that requests are not automatically classified as trustworthy even if they come from the company network.
In principle, all elements – all devices, services, users, etc. – are treated precisely the same way as if they came from open and insecure networks: they are initially not trusted. Following the zero trust principle, neither authenticated users nor end devices nor VPN connections are charged – even if they are generally classified as secure because automatic Trust would immensely increase the risk of data leaks – possibly triggered by internal company employees who move through the network without checking and with absolutely no restrictions.
Specifically, the Zero Trust approach means:
- Network users are authenticated, authorized, and validated in real-time and, if necessary, repeatedly. This serves to ensure the required authorizations. It is not enough to check the identity of the user once.
- The principle of least privilege applies to the zero trust model: identities are initially given the lowest access level. If further cybersecurity measures are added, movements in the network can be considerably limited using least privilege access.
- When implementing these zero trust principles, companies must first define assets worth protecting: data and systems, for example, classified as critical. These assets are covered with a comprehensive platform – contrary to the otherwise prevalent assortment of individual solutions built around individual users.
To successfully implement the Zero Trust model, the interaction of various security applications is necessary: In addition to the three points just mentioned, multi-factor authentication, network, and device monitoring, and behavior analysis and automation must also be considered. Nevertheless, the user experience also has to be suitable to not seduce users into compromising security. This tightrope walk can be achieved using IAM (Identity and Access Management) solutions.
Correctly implemented zero trust models are tailored to all behavior patterns and data points representing everyday life in the company network. Zero trust solutions grant or deny access rights based on various parameters, such as time, location, operating system, device type, or firmware version. Special zero trust tools allow advanced protective measures.
To maintain Trust in the zero trust model, a risk analysis is always necessary – before access to IT resources is granted, they must be fully authenticated and authorized, and security checks on devices and applications are also carried out. The risk analysis must include locations, the context of processing, and users. If anomalies are detected during monitoring, these are generally classified as risks and answered with previously defined security measures.
Advantages And disadvantages of Zero Trust
The main advantage of the Zero Trust principle is obvious: By reducing the risk of attacks, cybersecurity improves immensely. This enhances data protection and data security at the same time.
However, practice, which we briefly introduced above with a few points for consideration, shows that Zero Trust is, unfortunately, more of a security philosophy than a new standard in cybersecurity. Any risks and functionalities are difficult to assess in advance, posing unexpected challenges for the company. This may increase the costs for IT security, and the fact that the systems must be constantly monitored and maintained will not result in any reduction of the expenses or effort.
The zero-trust approach is always interesting: Everything in and outside of the company’s network must be verified before Trust; if necessary, also repeated. This curbs unnecessary network movements and thus can immensely improve security. However, the effort required to implement the zero trust principle successfully is not (yet) feasible for the majority of all companies, so it currently makes sense to deal with the protection of identities. If there will be zero trust solutions in the future that can offer user-friendliness in addition to protecting company assets, it is worth taking a closer look.