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What Is A Zero Trust Network? An Introduction To Zero Trust


In a world of evolving digital technology and expanding networks, security issues are growing.

When it comes to protecting a company against potential attacks, many businesses focus heavily on minimizing threats from outside sources, with firewalls, malware prevention, and cyber security tracking. However, more than 80% of all attacks involve the use of existing credentials in the business or misuse of a network.

In order to truly mitigate disaster, companies need to consider how they can successfully defend their internal assets from network issues. As a result, many leading brands are beginning to adopt the concept of “Zero Trust” for network security.

Here’s what you need to know about Zero Trust networks.

What is a Zero Trust Network?

The concept of “Zero Trust” is a security paradigm which combines strict identity verification methods with explicit permissions for all individuals attempting to access network resources. The concept was first introduced by Forrester Research in 2010, and doesn’t rely on a single technology.

Rather, Zero Trust combines a variety of best practices and technology solutions all centred around the concept of maintaining visibility into who has access to which data and resources. With Zero Trust, every person attempting to access resources must have clear permissions in place, regardless of whether they exist outside of or within a network perimeter.

How Does Zero Trust Security Work?

The core idea behind Zero Trust networks is simple. Companies assume everything and everyone is hostile by default. All traffic is automatically regarded as hostile until it can prove otherwise. Workloads are blocked from connecting with the network until they’re validated by a specific set of attributes, such as identity details and biometrics.

Because protection in a zero trust network is environment agnostic, it can help to secure applications and services communicating across various network environments, without the need for major architectural changes and policy updates. Zero trust helps to securely link devices, applications, and users using business policies across the entire network.

Zero Trust Network Access, known as ZTNA, is the main technology enabling organizations to implement zero security. This solution conceals and defends most services and infrastructures, with one-to-one encrypted connections between resources and devices.

The Core Principles of Zero Trust Security

As of 2022, around 41% of respondents from a global survey say they are either using a Zero Trust architecture, or are in the process of building one. To implement a zero trust network, companies need to explore a range of key principles, including:

  • Consistent monitoring and validation: Zero trust assumes there are attackers present both inside of and outside of a network. As such, it monitors every potential connection to the network, and requires specific information to validate each link. Users and devices must be consistently reverified when re-entering the environment.
  • Least privilege access: With least privilege access, users are only given access to the information they absolutely need and nothing else. This involves the careful managing of various user permissions, and clear policies on how to distribute resources.
  • Device access controls: Zero trust also requires strict controls around device access. These systems need to monitor the exact number of devices attempting to access a network, and they need to determine each device has not been compromised. This helps to reduce the attack surface of the network.
  • Micro segmentation: The zero trust environment also uses micro-segmentation to break up security perimeters into smaller zones, in order to maintain access to separate parts of the network. This can help to ensure each piece of information is secured in its own unique zone, to help with the set up of relevant policies.
  • Lateral movement prevention: Lateral movement involves situations wherein an attacker can move into a network and throughout different environments after gaining access to the network. Segmented and constantly validated networks mean users can’t easily move throughout the network environment, reducing the impact of potential attacks.
  • MFA: Multifactor authentication is a core component of zero trust security. It requires users on a network to enter more than just a single password to gain access to information. Setting up this strategy can significantly reduce the risk of criminals gaining access to a network after accessing a password from an employee.

Why is Zero Trust Security Better than Traditional Security?

Zero Trust is a contrasting strategy to traditional IT network security, which automatically trusts anything “inside” of a network. Traditional IT security uses the “castle and moat” concept of security. While it’s hard to gain access to the technology environment from outside of the network, everyone within the network already has explicit trust.

The traditional strategy for IT security is no longer suitable at a time when companies don’t retain their data in one location. A lot of information today is spread across multiple cloud vendors, which makes it harder to have a single security control in place for an entire network.

With Zero Trust, no one has trust inside or outside a network unless they also have the right permissions. This strategy has been proven to reduce data breaches.