Zero Trust security is a model and set of system design principles that assumes a breach in your network is inevitable or that a breach has already occurred.
A Zero Trust cybersecurity model uses a mixture of system monitoring, secure remote access and security automations to maintain the security of your environment and give a user the least-privileged access required to endpoints within your network.
Though Zero Trust isn’t something new – it was popularized by Forrester in the ‘00s – the calls for moving to a Zero Trust architecture this year have never sounded so urgent. Watching the breaches from the past twelve months, from the SolarWinds breach, Colonial Pipeline breach and Microsoft announcing a second attack from the same group who committed the SolarWinds breach, one can see why.
President Biden signed an executive order calling for the need to implement Zero Trust cybersecurity measures immediately to improve the nation’s security and protect federal government networks.
These recent attacks were significant. They were breaches permitting access to some of our nation’s most critical networks and infrastructure. They are the biggest warnings yet that cybersecurity infrastructure in this country is not ready to handle the sophistication of its adversaries.
Why Implement Zero Trust Cybersecurity
There are many reasons for implementing a Zero Trust security model. These past 12 months have only added more urgency to this move:
- Increases in remote workers
- Evolving and increasingly complex supply chains
- Organizations moving to cloud and Software as a Service
- Accelerated adoption of new technologies
- Increases in the number of cyberattacks and in their sophistication
- Aging operational technology
Viewed together, we can see we are already in an environment requiring stricter security measures. The traditional model does not work well against the sophisticated attacks we have recently seen.
Where a traditional cybersecurity approach takes a trust but verify view of allowing access, a Zero Trust approach never trusts the user and assumes worst intent. This moves an organization away from assuming someone within the network is verified and is a trusted, privileged actor who should be there.
Implementing Zero Trust Architecture
Zero Trust itself is not a technology, but a shift in design approach. Implementing a Zero Trust architecture requires buy in at all levels of your organization, in addition to technology enabling its core principles. You are moving from a perimeter-based defense to access-based defense, from a reactive defense to a proactive defense.
To begin a successful implementation, you must address the following:
- Know your most valuable data, assets, applications and services. Where they are, who accesses them and how
- Limiting and controlling access to endpoints
- Threat detection in your environment
- Your company’s current knowledge of cybersecurity best practices
With these key elements in mind, design your Zero Trust implementation to have:
- Role-based, privileged access giving a user only the access needed to perform their role at the right time and in the right context.
- Thorough system monitoring and logging of all users to know what is happening when, where, by whom and how.
- Education and buy in at all levels of the business for a Zero Trust mentality
Privileged, secure remote access ensures a user receives only the level of access they need, and only when they need it, to perform their role and nothing more. Users receive no additional information about your network than is necessary. ConsoleWorks always checks who the user is, gathering contextual information about them every time.
Users log into ConsoleWorks, which manages the connections to the endpoints and keeps sensitive information like passwords to your devices out of the hands of potential threats.
User activity is logged while accessing the environment and the endpoint’s configuration is monitored, ensuring inputs or changes have not been made by the user that would indicate a threat or attack.
You should also ensure all your partners are doing their best to maintain secure environments within their own operations. With compromises to many companies happening from supply chain breaches, TDi Technologies completed its SOC for Supply Chain examination to be a secure link in our partners’ chains.
Zero Trust Model Benefits
A Zero Trust environment gives you more opportunities to detect threat actors in addition to giving more response options to quickly deploy and address the threat. This, together with a company-wide mindset around the Zero Trust mentality, primes you from top to bottom to notice the subtle threat indicators that many companies miss during an attack.
With the level of sophistication in attacks now surpassing traditional defensive capabilities of many companies in the United States, and critical industrial control systems in our country facing these new threats, a Zero Trust approach is more important than ever.
Transitioning your IT or OT operations to Zero Trust? ConsoleWorks simplifies your access, logging and monitoring needs in one secure operations platform. Talk to us about your Zero Trust needs here to make sure you’re doing it right.