7 Simple, Yet Effective Steps That Will Take You to Zero Trust Security

John Kundera, who was the principal analyst at the time in Forrester Research laid the foundation of zero trust network and zero trust architecture in 2010.

A decade later, many businesses are embracing zero trust as a technology which could help them protect their enterprise systems against sophisticated cybersecurity attacks and data breaches. 

What is Zero Trust?

Zero trust is a security concept which revolves around the belief that businesses should not trust any user or device connecting to their network before authenticating them properly. It prevents data breaches by eliminating trust from an organization's network.

Charlie Gero, Chief Technology Officer at Enterprise, and Advanced Projects Group at Akamai Technologies summed it up brilliantly when he said, “The strategy around Zero Trust boils down to don’t trust anyone. We’re talking about, ‘Let’s cut off all access until the network knows who you are. Don’t allow access to IP addresses, machines, etc. until you know who that user is and whether they’re authorized.

In this article, you will learn about seven simple steps you can take to reach zero trust security.

7 Steps to Zero Trust

Here are seven steps you can take to implement zero trust security.

Create a Strategy

The first thing you need to do is to create a strategy. Ask yourself, what goals do you want to achieve by implementing zero trust architecture? Do you want to implement zero trust throughout your organization or only to a portion of your network? 

Answering these questions will give you a clear direction to move in. Knowing your business goals and the cybersecurity threats which can hinder your progress towards those goals assist you in creating a zero-trust strategy to mitigate these risks. Additionally, it allows you to get buy in from C-suite executives. Without their support, you will struggle to implement your strategy. Involve key stakeholders from the get-go to make the transition smoother. It could be different departments of your company such as human resource, finance or legal or different stakeholders such as users, employees or vendors, suppliers or more.

Identify Assets You Want to Protect

How can you create an effective zero trust strategy when you do not know what you need to protect? The short answer is you cannot. That is why it is important to identify assets you want to protect. By creating distinction among data, you can easily protect it. Let us say you have a dedicated server or planning to buy vps server, think about what type of data will it store? Is its sensitive business data, customer data or financial records? Once you have classified data, you can also understand how to protect it in a better way.

Keep an Eye on Data and Traffic Flow

Once you have drawn the line between assets you want to protect and assets you don’t want to protect, it is important to understand where and how your data is stored and who is responsible for data management? Answering these questions is critical as it will direct all the future policy decisions in your zero trust architecture. The more information you have about how data is stored, managed and transferred, the more likely you are to create a winning policy that can facilitate smoother data management.

Assess Your Maturity Level

Many large-scale enterprises already have zero trust networks operating on their architecture. It could either be an advanced application aware firewall or using a virtual private network for remote access. Despite this, it is important for businesses to assess maturity level. By knowing what you have already implemented and how it can help you fulfill zero trust requirements. Zero trust can come in handy when you are developing the architecture, create a roadmap for implementation and get a better idea about resources and time required to complete the project.

Develop a Zero Trust Architecture

After assessing your current standing, it is now time to start developing your zero-trust architecture. The zero-trust architecture focuses on authorization and oversees how different elements such as threat intelligence, data centers, analytics, vulnerability management systems interact with one another. In most cases, it adopts an agent based approach, which means that resources are grouped together without policy implementation being managed by a single gateway.

In addition to this, zero trust architecture also elaborates how much of your architecture consists of software defined perimeters and how much of it is governed by identity or micro segmentation. It is highly recommended that you run a pilot project to iron out all the shortcomings before implementing zero trust architecture. The focus of these pilot projects should be on sensitive data.

Create a Zero Trust Policy

To implement a zero-trust architecture, you might have to fulfill certain criteria. You must visualize what your zero-trust architecture might look like when it is ready to create a zero-trust policy which can govern traffic and data flow. You can also take a score-based approach algorithm for this purpose, but it might require a lot of planning, tweaking, and testing to do it perfectly. Your zero-trust policy should never ignore risk elements and trust factors. Since the zero-trust policy is driven by identity, your architectural approach will matter and might even influence policy composition.

Monitoring and Maintenance

Last but certainly not the least is constant monitoring and frequent maintenance of your zero-trust architecture and network. Your policy should also be flexible allowing you to dynamically adjust it according to the activity and threats. By monitoring your zero-trust network, you know exactly whether you need to divert more resources to handle increased load or adjust defenses based on the elements you identify during monitoring. You can also use automation and real time analytics to your advantage to streamline the monitoring and maintenance processes. This is crucial especially if you want to maintain zero trust state for a long time.

How do you implement zero trust security in your business? Let us know in the comments section below.

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