Best practices for implementing Zero Trust Architecture

Everyone is suspicious
Best practices for implementing Zero Trust Architecture

With the move toward hybrid and remote work over the past few years, network security has become an increasing concern. As companies scrambled to enable their networks for remote work as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, gaps in security were uncovered—both by companies, and by unwanted intruders.

How can companies best adapt to the growing need for hybrid and remote work, and protect their networks, data, apps, devices, and workers? Today, more organizations are implementing Zero Trust security models to support this more complex and dynamic environment.

What is Zero Trust?

A Zero Trust security model is designed to assume that every user and device has the potential to be a threat. It embraces the concept of “never trust” as its default, and requires mutual authentication, in which two parties authenticating each other simultaneously. Zero Trust also features higher levels of user access controls and permissions to restrict the content and services available to a user based upon criteria such as department, job role, or location.

Why Zero Trust matters

Zero Trust architecture has become so compelling because of its flexibility—an attribute that’s needed in a growing and changing technology landscape. It reduces the business risk associated with attacks by viruses, malware, and hackers while keeping security mapped to specific workloads. For organizations operating under industry standards and mandates, Zero Trust is a key tool to ensure fulfilment of reporting and compliance requirements around security.

Best practices for implementing Zero Trust architecture

Today, a Zero Trust approach has become an important element of network security. The foundation of successful Zero Trust strategies is rooted in six core best practices.

  1. Data exchange and communication mapping – Look beyond standard network architecture diagrams and level up your mapping. Build out a holistic view of all connections across your network, including each connection through which data moves and all applications and their data sets. Get granular and review the mapping to identify points of vulnerability that should be protected.
  2. Micro-segmentation – With the growth of cloud and mobile, secure networks are more essential than ever to protect data. By micro segmenting your network using solutions like intrusion-prevention and data-loss tools, deep-packet inspection, and advanced firewalls, it’s easier to monitor and control network traffic, and quickly address threats.
  3. Policy development – Establishing and executing on granular security policies requires a significant investment of time but is essential to achieving a rock-solid Zero Trust architecture. Policy development demands a deep understanding of the landscape of the network surface, its users, and why and how endpoint access is requested and approved.
  4. 24×7 monitoring – Store all reports and activity logs in a central destination and set up automated reviews to flag issues so any adjustments and fixes can be implemented incrementally to strengthen the system in near real time.
  5. Strengthen with AI – Facilitating a Zero Trust security environment is a big job, requiring significant time, infrastructure, and resources in order to be successful. With expectations high around Zero Trust, more and more organizations are leveraging artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to manage heavy workloads. AI can help reduce or eliminate a lot of the standard maintenance and infrastructure setup associated with Zero Trust. It can also scale easily as the network evolves.
  6. Streamline for easier compliance – If a complex IT environment makes it difficult to successfully meet audit requirements, Zero Trust can help. Using tools that offer solutions like data rick inventory, control implementation, and reporting to auditors will make it easy to help you stay ahead of (and often exceed) compliance mandates.

Next steps: Reduce your risk with Zero Trust

Our Security Strategy & Design services can help you plan and implement a successful Zero Trust security strategy and help you protect your network and dramatically reduce your business risk. Schedule a free, no-obligation chat with one of our security experts today!