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A six-step approach to Zero Trust in today’s perimeterless world

Jul 11 2018

Zero Trust is a security concept that is centered around the belief that organizations should not trust anything inside or outside its perimeter and instead must verify anything trying to access systems. Zero Trust is rooted in the principle of “trust, but verify,” which became a well-known phrase used by President Ronald Reagan on multiple occasions in the 1980s in the context of nuclear disarmament.

The Zero Trust model can be thought of as a more modern way of thinking vs the old castle-and-moat mentality that had organizations focused on defending their perimeters while assuming everything already inside could be trusted. The issue today is that the Trust Model needs to be adapted to the erosion of the perimeter caused by a combination of the rise of BYOD and the rapid adoption of cloud services. Let’s take a look at a 6-step approach to implementing Zero Trust in today’s perimeter-less world.

Step 1 – Bring users into zero trust fold

Implementing an Identity and Access Management (IAM) tool with single sign-on (SSO) is an important first step to covering users as part of your Zero Trust program. Only users that are under identity and access management and can verify their identity get access to your corporate-sanctioned cloud services. Implementing a CASB like Netskope alongside IAM enables you to expand identify coverage to use cases such as compromised credentials where you can identify what users have had their credentials compromised in a data breach and then take action such as force a step-up in addition to a password change.

Step 2 – Focus next on devices

Focusing solely on user identity is not good enough. You need to also extend Zero Trust to devices.  If you have a user that is verified via IAM and you trust the user, that user can easily use their personal device to access your corporate systems and exfiltrate data to their personal device. Implement a CASB like Netskope that can provide real-time visibility and control of unmanaged devices that are connecting to sanctioned cloud services. Also look for granular  control because Zero Trust does not necessarily mean outright block access from personal devices. It can mean allow access, but don’t permit downloads of sensitive data. Look for a CASB like Netskope that can provide granular controls.

Step 3 – Find the most risky cloud services and exclude them from your circle of trust

Now that you have user identity and devices covered, the next logical step is to identify cloud services that pose an inherent high-level of risk given the lack of security capabilities.

A CASB like Netskope can help you discover cloud services in use and help you assess the enterprise-readiness using more than 50 different criteria. For the most risky ones, you can block them outright, not letting into the trust circle/

Step 4 – Apply security controls to cloud services that have been sanctioned by IT

For cloud services like Office 365, Box, Salesforce and others that IT has sanctioned and has administrative control over, apply security controls such as restriction policies, DLP, and threat protection. For example, use a CASB like Netskope to restrict sharing of sensitive data to only users that are inside your organization, ensure sensitive data from competitors is not being brought in and uploaded by employees, and assess the security posture of your AWS and Azure environment and get guided direction on how to remediate against misconfigurations that can expose your sensitive data. A CASB like Netskope can also help you protect against advanced threats like ransomware that uses the cloud to hide, infect, and spread.

Step 5 – Apply security controls to cloud services that are unsanctioned, but permitted

In step 3, I talked about blocking the most risky cloud services based on the results of a discovery and risk assessment.  It turns out that there are potentially thousands of unsanctioned cloud services that are being used by your lines of business and knowledge workers. The use of these cloud services is good for the business and blocking them would be disruptive. You can use a CASB like Netskope to extend the same security controls we discussed in Step 4 to thousands of unsanctioned cloud services.

Step 6 – Block risky websites and extend security controls to the general web

A comprehensive Zero Trust implementation takes in account all users, all devices, and all systems being accessed. The general web should be a part of your target coverage given the inherent risk presented with malicious sites, malware, and sensitive data loss. A CASB like Netskope enables you to block risky sites and extend security controls like threat protection and DLP to websites.

Follow these steps and you will be on your way to implementing a Zero Trust security framework that provides comprehensive coverage of users, devices, cloud services and websites.

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Bob Gilbert
Bob Gilbert heads up the product marketing efforts at Netskope, a market-leading cloud security company. Bob is a prolific speaker and product demonstrator, reaching live audiences in more than 45 countries over the past decade.