The Zero Trust Architecture (ZTA) has made a lot of noise in the cybersecurity world, primarily due to a recent issue. In that order, the Zero Trust Architecture (ZTA) is cited as one of the best practices for modernizing Federal Government cybersecurity.

It is a method of designing the cybersecurity infrastructure of an organization’s network based on the Zero Trust Architecture (ZTA) Model. At its core, Zero Trust Architecture (ZTA) operates on the principle that there is no implicit trust given to any part of a network. The Zero Trust Architecture (ZTA) Model was developed to reduce the potential attack threat and increase the security posture.

Network security generally deals with access. Gaining access to a resource requires users to prove their identity by showing their credentials, thereby achieving the network’s trust. The traditional “fort and moat” approach to security relies on establishing perimeter defenses where these credentials are checked and access is allowed once verified. However, this practice poses potential security threats.

In the Zero Trust Architecture (ZTA) Model, every network request should be treated as if the network had been compromised, and even simple requests should be treated as a potential threat. As a result, multi–factor authentication and authorization are required before a session can be started or any access allowed. Also, when an authenticated user requests access to a new resource, their credentials need to be rechecked. This approach helps limit lateral movement when there is a threat inside the network and helps to quickly detect, identify and neutralize threats coming from the outside or inside the network.

The total transformation of an organization’s IT systems to implement a Zero Trust Architecture (ZTA) is complex. Instead, organizations should continually improve their security posture in small and simple steps. Also, migrating existing services to the new architecture is often more costly than designing new services from scratch. Therefore, it may be an excellent strategy to implement new services, especially cloud-based ones, by Zero Trust Architecture (ZTA) principles.

Zero Trust Architecture (ZTA) is a data–centric approach because it focuses on protecting the network’s assets rather than its segments. A critical factor for implementing Zero Trust Architecture (ZTA) should be to identify the resources that need protection and the best method to protect them. Data must be protected at rest and in transit, so encryption, especially PKI, is the cornerstone of Zero Trust Architecture (ZTA) implementation. Data collection on the efficiency of the policies implemented and user behavior is also critical in creating a dynamic system that can adapt to cybersecurity’s ever–changing environment.

As the Zero Trust Architecture (ZTA) develops and matures rapidly, the concept of Zero Trust Architecture (ZTA) is explained in different dimensions for different situations. However, based on the Zero Trust Architecture (ZTA) approach;

  • Network locality is not sufficient to decide trust in a network.
  • External and internal threats are always present on the network.
  • Every device, user, and network flow must be authenticated and authorized.
  • Policies should be dynamic and calculated from as many data sources as possible.

Integration of IoT devices into IT networks is quite common nowadays. However, this integration of IoT devices comes with its own set of problems. These devices are not recognized with high–security standards, thus putting the entire network at risk of unauthorized breach.

To get it, Zero Trust Architecture (ZTA) is a policy implemented to counter this new vulnerability.

Design Principles of Zero Trust Architecture (ZTA)

  • Know your architecture, including users, devices, and data:

In other cases, you can identify your purchases by following a non–technical procedure such as querying procurement records.

It is also essential to know what data is stored in your environment, its location, and its sensitivity.

  • Evaluate user behavior, service, and device health:
  • Focus on monitoring users, devices, and services:

In a Zero Trust Architecture (ZTA), your monitoring strategy will likely change to focus on users, devices, and services. Monitoring your devices, services, and user behavior will help you build your cyber health.

Tracking must be done on the device and exported via a secure transfer (to a central location). User behavior, such as regular working hours or standard working location, is another critical metric to monitor. It is also essential to have visibility of your services and services. Understand the interaction between users and their data. This information can be used as a signal with any observed abnormal activity operated by a policy engine to make an access decision.

You should know what devices, users, and services perform and their access data. Your monitoring should go back to the policies you set and verify that they are implemented as you expect.

  • Do not trust any network, including your own:

Please do not trust any network between the device and its accessing service, including the local network. Communication over a network to access data or services must use a secure transport such as TLS. In addition, the device must be configured to prevent attacks existing on a local web.

  • Know your user, service, and device IDs:

An identity can represent a user (human), service (software process), or device. Each must be uniquely identifiable in Zero Trust Architecture (ZTA). This is one of the most critical factors in deciding whether to grant someone or something access to data or services.

These unique IDs are a series of signals that feed a policy engine that uses this information to make access decisions.

Completing a discovery exercise is an essential first step towards allocating a single identity resource to your users, services, and devices.

  • Authenticate and authorize everyone:

When assessing the risk associated with access requests.

MFA is a requirement for Zero Trust Architecture (ZTA).

This does not mean that the user experience has to be poor. On the contrary, powerful MFA can be achieved with a good user experience on modern devices and platforms.

  • Use policies to authorize requests:

Policies can also help facilitate risk–managed to share of data or services with guest users or partner organizations.

Use product–managed services and protocols that support a continuous authentication and authorization process.

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