Zero Trust Fundamentals

3 minute read

July 15, 2022

What is Zero Trust Architecture, and what are the benefits?

Zero trust Architecture is a paradigm and culture shift in the way that we protect our assets. With millions of people working from home and in the cloud, businesses have been looking for new ways to keep their networks secure. According to Cyber., ‘’98 per cent of organisations plan to implement zero trust architecture.’’ 

So, if you’re considering adopting a Zero Trust approach, it’s important to understand what it is and how it can help your cyber security practices. 

What is Zero Trust? 

By default, Zero Trust Architecture removes all inherent trust from users, applications and devices, even if it’s part of a trusted business network.  

The concept of Zero Trust was invented by cyber security expert John Kindervag, who coined the term ‘’never trust, always verify.’’ This saying is the backbone of Zero Trust – removing all trust from digital systems and verifying their safety. 

Zero Trust can be thought of as risk-based access. It is applied right before the user or machine accesses the asset they are requesting and based on principles of need to know, least privilege and, risk their access request poses to the business. You can also think of it as just-in-time security because the risk is evaluated at access time, right before the user/machine gains access to the business asset.  

To build trust, users and machines requesting access must first be verified. Verification works using many trust signals. Trust signals might comprise multi-factor authentication (MFA), endpoint device health, asset health, the physical location of the requestor, and many more.   

Once verified, the requestor (user or machine) is only allowed access to what’s needed for their job; and sometimes, only for a limited time. The next time they request access, they have verified again then and if the risk context changes, the access decision may change too. 

How is it different? 

More traditional forms of cyber security automatically place trust in a user once they are within their business' network, such as a VPN. Once a user has access to the network, they can roam freely to access sensitive data.  

The issue lies when malicious insiders or hackers gain access to the network – they are free to access all the data within the network and use it for malicious purposes. 

What are the benefits of Zero Trust Architecture? 

Greater data protection 

Zero Trust allows you to control the amount of data users are granted access to within the network - and possibly the time they are allowed to access it. By doing so, attackers looking to breach the system are restricted to only a limited set of data.  

Therefore, if a breach were to occur, it would likely have less impact on your business' data than a breach of a traditional security system. With traditional systems, if an attacker were to breach a firewall and gain access to the network, they’re able to roam freely and access all the sensitive data.  

Upholds compliance 

Zero Trust gives you detailed visibility into what’s taking place in your network. Every action is logged and assessed no matter who the user is, by using factors such as location and time.  

So, you can have a continuous audit trail of the data users are trying to access, giving you a clear picture of what’s taking place within the network, making it more efficient as well as more reliable. 

Enables mobility: security that moves with your users, assets and risk 

With remote or hybrid working being increasingly commonplace, users are accessing sensitive data on different networks across more locations, meaning they can be working outside of your business’ network perimeter. Consequently, this increases the attack surface of the network, leaving it more vulnerable. 

With Zero Trust, the identity is in the perimeter. Identity is made by the user, application and the device. So, wherever someone is, your business’ network is secure. 

Better user experience 

Zero Trust can also improve the user experience and improve productivity. Zero Trust is context aware security that works on trust signals - this means that while risk levels remain low for access sessions, users will experience fewer interruptions from security. This leads to a better user experience. 

By implementing tools such as Single Sign-On (SSO), users only enter the necessary credentials once to gain access to everything they are allowed to, rather than for every application. Meaning users have fewer passwords to remember. 

Simplified IT management 

Zero trust can help with the large workloads of IT teams by streamlining their IT processes. Zero trust can be automated to continuously monitor and validate network-connected devices and send alerts when a problem occurs. If a request is deemed low-risk, access gets granted automatically.  

Your IT department benefits from this if they spend a lot of time dealing with help desk requests, such as someone struggling to gain access to an application or forgetting their password. Instead, they can focus on more important things within their role. 

Get in touch with us 

As you can see from our name, we are big advocates of the Zero Trust Architecture, and we believe businesses should take the Zero Trust approach. Contact us today to see how we can help your business mitigate cyber attacks using our Zero Trust Architecture. 

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