Zero trust is a security model based on the premise that no one is blindly trusted and allowed to access company assets until they have been validated as legitimate and authorized. It supports the implementation of ‘least privilege access’, which is designed to selectively grant access to only the resources that users or groups of users require, nothing more. Additionally, those who are granted access to the network, data, and other assets are continuously required to authenticate their identity
Zero trust adoption has accelerated in response to the rapid rise of mobile and remote workers, the bring your own devices (BYOD) trend, shadow IT, and the rapid rise of cloud services. While these trends benefited users and brought new levels of flexibility to IT, they also reduced the ability of the organization to control and secure access to data and network resources. Zero trust brings this control back, tightening up security in the face of a dissolving network perimeter.
Think of your network and data infrastructure as a building full of rooms with locked doors and each lock has its own individual key and you only grant users access only to the room with assets that they need and nothing else. That is zero trust in a nutshell.
The term “zero trust” was coined by Forrester analyst John Kindervag in his research as he explained the importance of inherent “non-trust” when dealing with network traffic, no matter where it comes from. The concept originated as a network security term and rightfully so, since most businesses operated on their own in-house networks and data storage capacities at the time the concept originated.
However, many of the notions expressed in zero trust networking can trace their origins to a much earlier concept, put forth in 2004 by the Jericho Forum, called de-perimeterization. Perimeter security is conducted by means of firewalls and perimeter guarding for the purposes of keeping out intruders. The flaw in this strategy is the lack of safeguards once intruders are able to breach the perimeter. De-perimeterization is a security strategy of removing the standard “boundary” security separating a network from the internet and instead creating a segmented and multi-layered security system built on encryption and authentication. Zero trust architecture (ZTA) provides layered security by means of constant reauthentication and inherent distrust of all devices, users, and actions whether they exist within the perimeter or not.
The Future of Zero Trust
Today, zero trust has evolved to encapsulate more of a general concept than just a network specific architecture. The concept is gaining foothold among all industry players and while the two most common applications of zero trust exist in network (Zero Trust Network Access) and data (Zero Trust Data Protection) spaces, this security model is expanding into other realms, such as:
Zero trust workloads
Zero trust user bases
Zero trust automation
Zero trust devices
The zero trust model is here to stay, but it requires a new, cloud-first security mindset and approach to implement. Thanks to the growth of remote workers and the adoption of cloud environments, network-centric strategies are simply not as effective as they once were at mitigating cybersecurity threats. The new dynamic nature and requirements of these remote users and dynamic cloud environments challenge legacy security architectures from every angle.
With the exploding number of remote workers needing access to corporate data and resources and the increase in private apps hosted in public clouds, organizations are finding their security perimeter must extend far beyond the four walls of their enterprise. This means legacy access control approaches are inadequate – they can’t keep data safe from unauthorized use or protect against modern, elusive threats that are increasingly sophisticated and targeted.
Luckily, zero trust technologies have been maturing to address these new requirements. Zero trust essentially adopts a “default-deny” approach to security that requires all users and devices attempting access to be verified first. New cloud-based zero trust network access solutions are highly scalable and give users safe access to applications, as opposed to the network, to effectively protect private applications and data from breaches or misuse.
What are the Principles of Zero Trust?
These are the three core principles that guide the zero trust model:
1. Grant the Least Amount of Privileges
The base principle of zero trust centers around the idea of granting the least amount of privilege and access as possible without impacting an individual’s ability to complete their tasks. You only grant access on a case-by-case basis to exactly what is needed and nothing else.
2. Never Trust, Always Verify
No action or user is inherently trusted within a zero trust security model. Every new entry into a system or request for access to new data must come with some form of authentication to verify the identity of the user.
3. Always Monitor
Lastly, zero trust requires consistent monitoring and evaluation of user behavior, data movements, network changes, and data alterations. While authentication and privilege restrictions are the backbone of zero trust, it’s always best to verify all actions taken within your organization’s infrastructure.
What are the Types of Zero Trust?
Implementing a zero trust model protects private applications, sensitive data, and network assets, while drastically reducing risks from malicious insiders and compromised accounts.
There are two current and distinct applications for the zero trust model:
Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA)
Zero Trust Data Protection (ZTDP)
What is Zero Trust Network Access?
When designing a zero trust strategy for remote access to an environment, it is commonly referred to as Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA) but is also known as a Software-Defined Perimeter (SDP). A ZTNA or SDP is a modern way to secure access to the network, which uses a cloud-first, software-based approach to replace the hardware of legacy VPNs. It creates an overlay network that securely connects users and devices over the Internet to the servers and applications they need in the data center or public cloud.
A ZTNA solution offers the following benefits:
Efficiently secures remote user access
Ensures strong authentication
Implements effective resource access governance
Reduces breach potential and damages
Supports compliance audit initiatives
Accelerates a transition to the cloud
Transforms security – initiating VPN replacements and adopting software-defined solutions
Most enterprise organizations are adopting a zero trust model to provide both full visibility and control over users and devices that have access to a growing number of cloud applications and data services. This includes both managed applications within an enterprise’s ecosystem as well as unmanaged applications used by lines of business and individuals within the enterprise.
What is Zero Trust Data Protection?
On the other hand, you have Zero Trust Data Protection (ZTDP), a new security framework created by Netskope which applies the core principles of zero trust when guarding your data from unauthorized viewing, movement, alteration, and exfiltration.
ZTDP benefits include:
Continuous risk assessment
Data context and sensitivity awareness, for better policy enforcement
Enables safe access-from-anywhere
Ensures data is protected everywhere
Adherence to current compliance standards
The addition of other tools like analytics platforms and inline visibility to cloud, web, and network usage allows these administrators to tailor their zero trust rules and prevent unauthorized lateral movement to other sets of data. All in all, Zero Trust Data Protection is a first line of defense against unauthorized data access and exfiltration.
While both of these concepts utilize zero trust, ZTNA deals with applying the zero trust model strictly for the purposes of guarding network access, while ZTDP applies zero trust to the protection of access to data. In a perfect world, companies would utilize both concepts as a safeguard against network intrusions and data exfiltrations/alterations.
Zero trust predictions and insights from Gartner
of new digital business applications will be accessed through ZTNA
of enterprises will phase out most of their remote access VPNs in favor of ZTNA
SOURCE: GARTNER REPORT: THE FUTURE OF NETWORK SECURITY IS IN THE CLOUD
How Does Zero Trust Fit Within the Netskope Security Infrastructure?
To be effective in today’s cloud-first, increasingly mobile and distributed environments, zero trust solutions must blend a wide array of capabilities and technologies, from Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA), to Identity and Access Management (IAM), to encryption, to scoring, to file system permissions and more.
In terms of Netskope, our Private Access solution is specifically designed to support diverse environments as a cloud-native ZTNA platform. It combines comprehensive access policy management, compliance assessment, integration with existing IAM and security information and event management (SIEM) solutions; and it supports any application, and any protocol – to simplify network and security operations.
The solution also provides extended protection through integration with the Netskope Next Generation Secure Web Gateway (NG SWG), which comprises several integrated cloud-native technologies, including an inline CASB, data loss prevention (DLP), SWG, and advanced threat protection (ATP). This allows the offering to be uniquely capable of providing unified visibility and protection of hybrid-cloud environments and enhancing latency-sensitive security functions such as DLP and ATP.
Simply put, Netskope Private Access provides a next generation approach to zero trust accessibility, for any app, in any environment.
As technologists, many of us like to play with tools; especially when we discover a cool new feature of some product. We immediately look for a use case, then try to persuade our leaders to buy it so we can implement it. While this has often helped advance security programs or controls, it is also how we created a massive technology debt and complexity over the years.