What is Zero Trust Network Architecture?
The Zero Trust Network Architecture (ZTNA) is a security paradigm that employs many layers of access control, attack prevention, and continuous verification for each person, device, and process before allowing access to data and applications. With a ZTNA strategy, trust is never given unquestioningly and must always be assessed.
Zero Trust’s security architecture aims to give remote workers even more safe access to data and apps. Zero Trust can assist firms in safeguarding against malicious activity from both internal and external threats, helping them avoid costly data breaches, as today’s organisations operate in a considerably more complex, connected ecosystem and cloud services.
As more and more businesses explore ways to strengthen their cybersecurity posture, zero trust is gaining popularity. Even better, any size business can employ a Zero Trust paradigm for user access. You may apply Zero Trust to increase your security whether you run a small or large organization.
What Are the Benefits of Zero Trust?
Organizations now have new potential to widen their markets, increase sales, and boost efficiency thanks to the digital transformation. But this change has also given malicious actors new attack pathways and a larger attack surface, enabling them to use increasingly complex threats like malware, phishing scams, and ransomware.
The main advantage of a zero trust network architecture is that it contributes to the development of a solid strategy for digital identity in the contemporary IT environment. IT security teams can no longer merely use firewalls to secure their network infrastructure. Mobile devices, cloud environments, DevOps, BYOD, IoT devices, and other contemporary complicated contexts are becoming commonplace. All people, endpoint devices, and automated machine and application processes can receive specific access and permissions through Zero Trust.
Furthermore, ZTNA is a solid design that restricts lateral movement on a network once inside and shuts weaknesses to outside attackers trying to obtain access. Organizations frequently place more emphasis on creating their external perimeter than on internal controls and system setups. Consider the malicious insider discussed earlier. They frequently attempt to use their “trusted” status and credentials to get into other systems. By never implicitly granting trust for any identity, Zero Trust closes that security gap.
Beyond the strong identity security benefits that Zero Trust provides, another benefit is that it isn’t an all-or-nothing proposition. Organizations can implement Zero Trust incrementally without a complete overhaul of their existing network infrastructure and cloud security at once. In fact, the National Security Agency (NSA) has identified and recommends three maturity levels of Zero Trust:
- Basic: Implement fundamental integrated secure access to data and applications.
- Intermediate: Refine your integration capabilities and add more capabilities.
- Advanced: Deploy advanced protections and controls, with robust analytics and orchestration.
How Does a Zero Trust Network Architecture Work?
The Zero Trust Network Architecture prevents users or machines from accessing resources unless they have explicit permission. There are no connections of implicit trust. Additionally, each time access is sought, those access privileges are constantly assessed and approved (or rejected) in real-time for each identity. The main distinction between Zero Trust and traditional network security approaches is this “never trust, always verify” validation philosophy.
The 3 Stages of the Zero Trust Security Model
- Attack Prevention: This is a defensive security posture that keeps malicious attacks out. For example, isolation techniques like network segmentation and micro-segmentation can be deployed to harden the network perimeter.
- Access Protection: This is a form of access management that is designed to let trusted traffic in. A combination of setting access security policies, monitoring usage, and managing usage creates an adaptive access protection model.
- Continuous Visibility and Assessment: In order to maintain compliance with and enforce the requisite policies and systems, organizations should implement procedures for continuous visibility and assessment of their environment. These procedures are a constant cycle of implementing a ZTNA posture, monitoring it, and adjusting it.
How to Build a Zero Trust Architecture?
Organizations must strictly regulate access and permissions for each human and machine identity in order to adopt this security strategy. But constructing a zero-trust architecture is challenging given the expansion of already complex environments to include mobile and VPN-enabled remote workers, cloud services set up in hybrid and multi-cloud environments, developers writing code in DevOps environments, and all departments automating processes with Robotic Process Automation (RPA), widely used IoT devices connecting to systems, and numerous other enterprise applications. For overworked IT professionals, managing all of those identities successfully and averting a breakdown that exposes a firm to data leak and theft is practically difficult.
Some ways you can use digital certificates to build this type of solution include:
- Replacing passwords with user identity certificates
- Automating the issuance and renewal of SSL/TLS certificates
- Protecting email with S/MIME certificates
- Securing critical workflows with document signing
A Zero Trust Network Architecture requires the proper installation, monitoring, and renewal of all certificates – which is where Certificate Lifecycle Management (CLM) comes in. CLM provides a single administration portal to manage an increasing number of digital identities securely, as well as integrations into leading technology providers that can be used in any IT environment.