Zero Trust Security: Key Principles, Components, Pros & Cons
Zero Trust security is based on the concept of assuming breach and treating every request as if it comes from an open network. The idea is to never trust any requests and always verify, no matter where the request comes from or what it's trying to access. All requests for access need to be authorized and encrypted before access is allowed. Microsegmentation, least privileged access principles, rich intelligence, and analytics are used to achieve this.
There are different approaches to Zero Trust implementation that can be taken, although many find that it's not always straightforward. It can take time to implement Zero Trust, especially when making changes from a legacy infrastructure. There are numerous elements to consider, including identities, endpoints, apps, data, infrastructure, and networks. The process may start with taking an inventory and identifying key systems and sensitive information, as well as understanding the flow of data within the organization.
The Principles of Zero Trust Architecture
Zero Trust has several key principles that define how it should be approached. The three key principles of Zero Trust are:
1. Verify explicitly - Authentication and authorization should always be performed based on every available data point. This includes user identity and location, the health of the device, service or workload, data classification, and anomalies.
2. Use least privileged access - User access should be limited using just-in-time and just-enough-access, as well as data protection and risk-based adaptive policies.
3. Assume breach - Minimize the impact of security breaches and segment access. Take steps to verify end-to-end encryption, as well as using analytics for visibility and to improve threat detection and defenses.
Zero Trust security has both advantages and disadvantages that should be considered before it is implemented. It's important to have a full understanding of how it could help your organization, as well as the challenges or weaknesses it might present.
Some of the pros of the Zero Trust model in security include:
- Less vulnerable systems, particularly with more protection from in-network threats.
- Stronger policies for identifying users and allowing user access.
- Segmenting data to provide more protection to sensitive information.
- Better data protection through things such as automated backups or encrypted message transmission.
- Different security elements work well together to ensure there are no gaps left.
The Zero Trust model also has some challenges and potential downsides that are worth being aware of too. Some of the things to consider include:
- The process of getting everything set up - this can be time-consuming and complicated, especially when changing from legacy systems
- Users need to be monitored more strictly, including employees and other types of users, such as customers. Policies are required for each group that might require access.
- An increased number of devices to manage with their own properties and protocols.
- Application management becomes more complicated. Although implementing Zero Trust security has its challenges, it also provides some excellent benefits. It can take some time to put in place but it benefits the organization long term to do so.