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What Are the Key Features of Zero-Trust Security?

Remote work wasn’t a new concept when the pandemic hit, but it forced businesses to take it on in a much more large-scale way than they did previously. Employers have discovered that remote work comes with many advantages, and employees may ultimately be more productive. 

That doesn’t mean the transition to a cloud-based and flexible work environment isn’t without challenges, though. 

One such challenge is cybersecurity. 

The zero-trust security model is one way to tackle security issues that come with a dispersed workforce. The principle underlying zero-trust security is that you trust nothing and verify everything. 

The following is an overview of some of the key features and elements of zero-trust. 

The Basics

Zero trust is a set of ideas and concepts that are at their core intended to enforce access decisions in a way that reduces uncertainty and potential security compromises. 

Zero trust architecture is a term that encompasses a cybersecurity plan based on zero trust concepts. Zero trust architecture includes the relationships between components, workflows, and access policies. 

Zero trust uses network segmentation to prevent lateral movement if someone does access the network. Zero trust also relies on granular access control of users. 

The idea was created by John Kindervag when he served as vice president of Forrester Research. He built the premise on the idea that traditional security models were working on outdated assumptions that everything within the perimeter is inherently secure, which we now know is not the case.

Zero trust is a framework that requires every user, inside or outside a network, to be authenticated and authorized, and validated continuously before they can access data and applications. 

There’s no network edge in zero trust. Networks can be in the cloud, local, or hybrid. 

How It Differs from Trust But Verify

Zero trust moves away from the trust but verify method in significant ways. 

Traditionally with the trust but verify method, there are users and endpoints that are within the perimeter. However, if someone were to acquire credentials, they would have unfettered access once inside the network. 

Cloud migration and remote work have made trust but verify all but entirely obsolete. 

Features of Zero-Trust

The zero-trust model requires that you continuously monitor and validate that each user and the device they’re attempting to connect from has the proper attributes and privileges. 

To have a zero-trust model in place, you need to know all of your privileged accounts. You need to do an initial audit of user access, and you need to conduct those regularly after the initial audit as well. 

Zero trust policies need visibility, in real-time, into credentials and attributes that can include:

  • User identity credentials
  • The number of credentials on each device
  • Behavior patterns between the credential and the device
  • The type of endpoint hardware and function
  • Geolocation
  • Authentication risk and protocol
  • The applications that are installed on the endpoint
  • Security and incident detections

Key principles of zero trust are:

  • There is never a trusted source. With the zero-trust model, attackers are located both outside and inside the network so every access request has to be not only authenticated and authorized but also encrypted. 
  • There are many techniques aimed at preventing breaches and minimizing damages. These include identity protection as well as device discovery. Multi-factor authentication is also necessary, and it’s one of the best ways to confirm identities and improve security. 
  • Zero-trust often utilizes least privilege access, meaning that every person has the lowest possible level of access to all devices and applications needed to do their job. This reduces attack surfaces. 
  • Microsegmentation is another feature of zero trust. This security principle divides perimeters into zones that are maintained separately to contain an attack that might occur. 
  • The big goal of zero trust is to be preventative, but real-time monitoring is needed to stop any bad actors quickly. 
  • Zero trust architecture is meant to be just one part of a larger security strategy. No matter how robust your security strategy or advanced your technology, those things alone can’t entirely prevent a breach. 

Of course, zero-trust isn’t without its challenges. For example, legacy network resources, apps, and administrative tools can create a challenge. 

Regardless of challenges, zero-trust is likely to be the primary path moving forward as more businesses have remote employees and hybrid work models, and they need cybersecurity approaches that will keep up with these changes. 

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Written by Virily Editor

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