As you look to implement a Zero Trust architecture, it’s critical to move away from the inherent trust permitted in the traditional Castle and Moat architecture. Our network security maturity model will help clarify the different levels of implementations on your path to achieving more sophisticated network defense.
While working on your implementation, we also recommend reviewing our Network Segmentation Best Practices. This acts as a companion piece to the network segmentation maturity model. It will help you keep in mind important practices for your implementation and the benefits you receive from a mature implementation.
What is a Network Security Maturity Model
Our Network Security Maturity Model reviews three levels, from beginner to advanced, of implementations. We also review at what level you can attain a Zero Trust-worthy implementation of network security and why.
Each level builds on the previous, adding in new elements to your architecture and enhancing your security. We’ll especially be focusing on how a network is constructed or segmented, to hinder ease of movement for an attacker and to protect your most critical information or endpoints.
There are various network segmentation models and we have discussed the 62443 model previously, which you can also reference for approaches to your network segmentation as you move forward in this process.
Network Segmentation Maturity Model Stages
Network Security Level: Beginner
At the beginner level of network security, you have very few defenses or segmentation. At the edge of your network, you are allowing inbound and outbound traffic without examination or controls in place. This leaves you especially vulnerable, as you do not know where the traffic is coming from, do not know what it is doing or where it is going, and it can move laterally through your network both quickly and easily. This is due to a lack of segmentation or having security zones a user needs to pass through within the network. There is an inherent trust permitted at this level to your traffic.
Network Security Level: Intermediate
At the intermediate level you aren’t blindly permitting access into your network. You now have firewalls at the edge and restrict inbound and outbound traffic to your devices. While you might be restricting this access, your network still looks relatively flat.
This still means you are vulnerable to a bad actor who gains access. Much of the network’s assumptions about access at this point still revolve around trusting a user who has access. This also means once a user does gain entry, they are able to freely move around the network without challenge.
The other point that marks both a beginner and intermediate level of network security from an advanced level, is that these lower levels are very reactive in their defense. While an intermediate level might have more protocols in place to respond to a threat, they are not actively monitoring for them, nor do they have a network architecture that enables them to easily see what is happening inside of it. It also lacks a way to contain a threat to just one area within that network.
Network Security Level: Advanced
At an advanced level of network security, you are following strict access policies and functionally breaking up your network into segments. It now has various security levels, with the most important assets kept down at the lowest levels, with the fewest connections able to reach that point.
A solution like ConsoleWorks is also used to permit least-privileged access to these endpoints as well, layering in complexity to how the network is secured, and removing the elements of inherent trust from the network.
You’ve built your network security around the consideration of your deepest security levels, where your most important devices are kept first. This bottom-up approach helps you with securing user access at the other security zones.
This way you also begin to address challenges, like in OT, where aging assets that were never built with the intention of it being connected to a network, can still remain protected when they are introduced to that network and forced to interact with today’s environment.
Here now you are also proactive about detecting attacks. By having a well-defined architecture that doesn’t permit trust, you are constantly monitoring users and activity on your network. You are also more easily able to contain a breach to one area of your network rather than it spilling further, due to your various security zones and micronetworks.
The Road to Cybersecurity Maturity
It is important to remember that a fully mature cybersecurity architecture involves many pieces. We recommend our Password Management, Secure Remote Access, Baseline Configuration Monitoring and Zero Trust maturity models to further explore reaching cybersecurity maturity. These posts elucidate the features and design needs to attain higher maturity levels across other areas of your cybersecurity.
Should you need any help or have questions about attaining higher levels of maturity, or want to go beyond Zero Trust security in your environment, you can always reach out and talk to us here.