Last updated on January 6th, 2023
Enterprises were forced to support work-from-home culture, which provoked them to dig out old VPN techniques to support their infrastructure. They did all they could to keep their internal data secured and converged. After initially establishing the compliances to retain their infrastructure’s stability, IT teams are looking for innovations to sustain their architecture. Their requirement is to maintain this security, manage everything through the cloud and deliver a consistent experience.
At the same time, the challenges also advanced as cyber-attacks on less-secure data increased significantly. This sudden surge prompted the adoption of Zero Trust Security Network Access. ZTNA is the foundation where every team member enrolled in an organization must be authenticated, authorized, and recurrently validated every time they access resources on the company’s private network.
Zero Trust means not trusting anybody, even from within the organization. But this does not mean the employees are looked down on. Zero Trust system is placed within the system to safeguard employees and the organizations.
Zero Trust Architecture – Trusting No One
“Zero Trust Model Enforces that only the right people can have access to the right resources, right data, and right services from the right devices under right circumstances” – Bill Harrod.
Since this word is gaining more traction daily, organizations and IT experts need to understand the meaning of Zero Trust Security before implementing it structural-wise.
Zero Trust Architecture is as simple as it gets – “Never Trust Anyone, Always Verify .” A rigid ZT system is designed to protect remote working environments and promote digital transformation with the help of multi-layered authentication. The presumption here is that no one is trustworthy, either from inside or outside the organization. Or it can be interpreted as a threat that can exist within or outside the organization.
Traditional security norms assume that everything within an organization should be implicitly trusted. This trust created a framework that suggests that any member internally – Including malicious threats, once entered into the system, can easily navigate and leak the data as per their wishes.
With continuous migration and cloud adoption, a granular level of security controls is necessary. Since there are multiple standards to implement Zero Trust Security, each vendor has its definition and way of introducing the system within its organization.
How does Zero Trust Security Work?
For Starters, the architecture involves treating every individual as a threat. Multi-layered authentication is then introduced to make sure each user gets checked before accessing any private cloud resources.
Previous networks used to work on recognition where the protocol records IP addresses, ports, and devices. It then keeps on granting them access to the private network without verifying again. However, in Zero Trust, traffic, even from recognized devices, must authenticate themselves before accessing resources.
Moreover, this authentication is validated via critical attributes such as fingerprints, identity, or two-factor OTP sharing. This process is known as Identity-based validation. The best part, it will create strong security in different workspace environments – On-premises, Hybrid environment, public cloud, and many more.
Zero Trust architecture requires enterprises to monitor and track their employee’s activity and device details continuously. Once logged in, the user can use particular resources that they are given access to. After logging out, their sessions expire, which forces them to re-login when coming back.
Core principles of Zero Trust
Least Privilege access has been deemed as the best practice for establishing security. This principle sets up a secure model which provides just enough access, just in time for a limited time. The principle of least privilege (PoLP) is required to break the chain of Ransomware attacks on the servers and workstations.
Since remote working’s worldwide adoption accelerated, individual users’ workstations are at much more risk. Implementing PoLP is the orthodox yet most effective approach to cater to the challenges such as workstation compromise, vertical movement, account takeover, or privilege escalation.
Treating each user hostile allows organizations to adopt and implement these risk-based adaptive policies easily. With Respect to data security, it also helps in preserving their employee’s productivity.
Device Access Control
Apart from user access, Zero Trust policies also need to focus on defining strict rules for device access control. IT monitoring in Zero Trust records how many devices access their resources. It also ensures that those devices are authorized or not. This practice further cut down the possibility of external attacks.
Using identity-based management, Zero Trust implementation can achieve Microsegmentation. Microsegmentation encompasses breaking up security parameters into small units and implementing these on a different part of the network. For Instance, a zone consisting of a data center may contain multiple secure network zones with the help of micro-segmentation.
Moreover, a person with access to one of these zones will not be able to access another zone without permission.
Preventing Lateral Movement
Lateral movement states the movement of an attacker within the network once they gain access to any part inside the secure network. The major challenge with lateral movement is to detect the actual position of the attacker, even after identifying their entry point, as other parts of the network are equally compromised.
Zero Trust prevents lateral movement by designing and containing the attackers so they cannot move laterally. Since Zero Trust designs are created with micro-segmentation, attackers are restricted to one segment only. Moreover, the device is quarantined when the attacker is identified, cutting off all further access.
Multi-factor authentication is one of the fundamental components of any security-driven policy. MFA in Zero-trust is used to validate and authorize users’ access with layered authentication protocols. Just entering a single password is not enough to access critical resources.
Along with password layer security, users with MFA activated will be prompted to enter another code sent to their devices. This ensures that each user is designated to access that particular resource and has all the keys to perform operations.
Stages of Zero Trust Implementation
There are three stages using which an enterprise can implement Zero Trust Security policies:
- Visualize (Verify Who): The first stage is to understand what resources will be shared among users. Visualizing also includes recording users’ endpoint devices and what risks they can produce in the long run.
- Mitigate: In the event of a threat occurrence, it is imperative to detect the origin and location of the threat as soon as possible or to mitigate the danger, ensuring the least damage to the server.
- Optimize: Keeping user experience in mind, process security protocols for each component of the system infrastructure.
Zero Trust Use Cases
Zero Trust, defined as a standard procedure now in the cybersecurity industry, has provided a secure passage for digital transformation and a variety of threats seen in the last decade.
Since many organizations have benefitted from this approach, yours can also gain the upper hand if applied immediately.
Here are some examples where Zero Trust can be leveraged:
Securing Third-Party Access: Staff Augmentation technology is making rounds across the world. Organizations, while trusting their employees, still need to rely on third-party support from time to time. In such situations, it is imperative for IT admins to set up Zero Trust Security to ensure their company’s integrity.
It can be achieved in 4 easy steps:
- Firstly, identify the roles of third-party team members and what type of devices they are using to connect to the network
- Setup access priorities for tools, applications, files, and resources for such arbitrator
- Install tools to continuously monitor the activities, file access, and device authentications
- Audit access records to ensure security policies are being followed
IoT security and Visibility: Several IoT devices need to be secured more. It can cause a lot of issues with ambitious IoT companies. Zero Trust offers an out-of-the-box security mechanism to support IoT development and deployment.
ZTS in IoT will automate the monitoring of devices. It is challenging to install security with a component-based approach, such as endpoint detection and response on IoT sensors. With Zero Trust, users can implement communication control that restricts what and who can communicate in case of a compromise.
Zero Trust For VDI: Since Virtual desktops are gaining popularity, traditional cloud security practices started posing challenges as local devices used in cloud networks encapsulate a significant parameter, which is difficult to secure.
With Zero Trust integrated, IT teams can reduce the parameter to include only the backend systems to particular applications and data. Moreover, another key component of ZTS is the least privileged access. This allows the admin to restrict the use of resources and provide access to only those users who are allowed to use them.
By treating everyone hostilely, enterprises can implement zero-trust security to protect any application; however, the type of implementation can differ based on their use case.
The use of identity-based firewalls takes this strategy to the next level in a VDI environment. The network policy can be dynamically applied based on who the user is. This allows for the policy-based lockdown of the environment to the least privilege required for that user.
Busting Zero Trust Myths
Since the keyword “Zero-Trust” has gained much more perspective in the marketing world, many myths have started floating around this subject, mainly from SEO associates.
One such myth is that enterprises can adopt this policy easily. The truth is that Zero Trust is far more attainable with the help of modern hardware and technology. Transforming legacy systems with Zero-trust can be a more daunting process. The tools used in traditional systems were designed with the concept of secure boundaries. These designs are not valid anymore and need major infrastructure changes to deploy Zero-Trust.
The second major myth is that productivity will not be hampered and will not hold organizational structure back. This is only true when Zero-Trust is implemented carefully with flexibility in mind. If not, it can produce major challenges for the administration in the long run.
Zero Trust Virtual Desktop
DaaS Service provider ACE Cloud Hosting offers Zero Trust Virtual Desktop, optimized and custom-curated specifically to cater to the modern remote working environment challenges.
We at ACE VDI have designed our Virtual Desktop offering with Zero Trust embedded in our core architecture. Our Zero Trust starts with the identity layer, where our first approach is to identify users and accessible resources shared among them. All the layers in our architecture are enclosed in the Zero-Trust umbrella, secured, and ready to go.
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