What Is Zero Trust Strategy?

Zero Trust is a cybersecurity model that assumes users and devices inside and outside an organization’s network have been breached and cannot be trusted. "Never trust, always verify" is the core principle of Zero Trust, meaning that no user or device is trusted by default, even if they are inside the organization's network. Instead, all access to applications and data is granted on a least-privileged basis, and users and devices must be continuously assessed for posture, authenticated and authorized before they are allowed to connect.

Why is Zero Trust important?

Before Zero Trust, previous security frameworks used a perimeter defense strategy. Anything inside the organization’s firewall could be implicitly trusted. In today's world, where users and devices are increasingly mobile and connected to the internet, the traditional network perimeter has become increasingly porous. Zero Trust helps to protect organizations from cyberattacks by applying principles that make it more difficult for attackers to gain access to their systems and data.

What challenges does Zero Trust solve?

Countering Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs): By continuously verifying identities and devices, Zero Trust hinders APTs' ability to move laterally within the network.

Securing Remote Work: In the age of remote work, Zero Trust ensures secure access to company resources from anywhere without compromising security.

Thwarting attackers' movement: Following a Zero Trust approach, users establish direct connections to the applications and resources they need without relying on network-based connections, decreasing attackers' ability to move laterally in the network.

Benefits of Zero Trust

A Zero Trust Strategy is a proactive and comprehensive approach to bolster your security posture in an increasingly interconnected digital landscape.

Reduced Attack Surface: Strict access controls and micro-segmentation shrink the attack surface, making it harder for attackers to move laterally within your network.

Minimized Risk: With strict access controls, Zero Trust mitigates the risk of data breaches and insider threats by limiting access to only what is necessary for each user's role.

Improved Compliance: Adhere to regulatory requirements and industry standards by enforcing strict access policies, auditing user activities, and maintaining comprehensive logs.

Adaptability: Zero Trust is adaptable to various IT environments, including cloud, hybrid, and on-premises, making it suitable for modern, dynamic infrastructures.

Future-Proofing: As cyber threats evolve, Zero Trust provides a forward-looking security strategy that can adapt to new challenges and technologies.

What are the 5 pillars of Zero Trust?

Organizations need a framework and maturity model to adopt Zero Trust. The U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency (CISA) has published a maturity model to help organizations transition to a Zero Trust architecture. This model encompasses the following five pillars. Organizations should tailor the pillars of Zero Trust to align with their specific security needs.

  • Identities: Rigorously authenticate and authorize users and devices.
  • Devices: Verify the security postures of all devices accessing the network.
  • Networks: Segment internal and external network traffic to prevent lateral movement.
  • Data: Use encryption, access controls, and data loss prevention solutions to protect data.
  • Applications & Workloads: Conduct application security testing, vulnerability scanning, and intrusion detection systems (IDS) to mitigate attacks.

Zero Trust is more than ZTNA

In the rush to the cloud many organizations focused on a Zero Trust Networking Access (ZTNA) approach to their implementation. While ZTNA is an important part of an overall Zero Trust Architecture, it only represents one component that is necessary for Zero Trust at scale.  While ZTNA focuses on the implementation of Zero Trust principles for access to resources enforcing granular, adaptive, and context-aware policies to applications hosted across clouds and data center, the overall maturity model as published by CISA also includes concepts such as pervasive visibility, analytics, automation and orchestration that span all pillars of execution.  This, combined with an “assume breach” mentality brings to light the need for holistic threat detection and response capabilities that overlap, but broaden upon, a ZTNA approach to on-premises devices, services and apps that will not be included in ZTNA alone.

Best practices for adopting a Zero Trust strategy

Transitioning to a zero-trust security model is a critical step in fortifying your organization's cybersecurity posture. However, implementing Zero Trust is a strategic journey, not an overnight transformation. To effectively navigate this transition, consider the following key best practices.

  1. Assess Your Current State: Evaluate your existing security infrastructure to identify weaknesses and areas that need improvement. Understand your current security posture to make informed decisions and set clear goals.
  2. Define Access Policies: Clearly define who has access to what resources based on their roles and responsibilities. Effective access policies lay the groundwork for Zero Trust.
  3. Educate Your Team: Train employees on Zero Trust principles and security best practices to ensure their cooperation in the new security model. A well-informed team is your first line of defense.
  4. Implement Incrementally: Develop a phased approach to implementing Zero Trust gradually to minimize disruptions and adapt to the changes. Piloting Zero Trust in specific areas allows for smoother integration.
  5. Regularly Audit and Update: Continuously assess and refine your Zero Trust strategy to stay ahead of emerging threats. Regular audits and updates ensure the ongoing effectiveness of your security measures.
  6. Engage Leadership Early: Gain executive buy-in and support for Zero Trust policies. When talking with leadership, shape conversations around Zero Trust's positive impact on the business.

How to evaluate and choose a Zero Trust solution

There is no single vendor or all-in-one solution that provides everything needed for a complete Zero Trust implementation. Choosing the right Zero Trust solutions requires careful consideration and alignment with the five pillars.

  • Ensure the chosen solutions offer robust identity verification mechanisms, such as multi-factor authentication.
  • Look for solutions that provide granular access control, allowing you to define and enforce access policies.
  • Seek tools that enable network segmentation and isolation, providing an additional layer of security.
  • Choose solutions with real-time monitoring capabilities, enabling swift detection and response to security incidents.
  • Select solutions that can adapt and integrate seamlessly with your organization's evolving needs and existing infrastructure.
  • Research vendors to make sure that they are a reputable company with a proven track record of delivering secure solutions.
  • Make sure that the solution is mature and has been tested in production environments.

The Trellix solution for Zero Trust

Trellix speeds up the implementation of your Zero Trust initiatives using an integrated, AI-powered XDR platform, collecting insights from over 1,000 data sources. Simplify your security environment with consolidated native controls, integrated IAM providers, and a unified console to uncover and eliminate blind spots, ensuring robust Zero Trust implementation.

To reduce mean time to detect (MTTD), Trellix employs multi-vector, multi-vendor detections to prevent breaches and offers automated analysis. We empower SOC teams with guided responses for faster mean time to respond (MTTR) and SecOps playbooks that improve mean time to investigate (MTTI).

Trellix enhances visibility by providing native monitoring, protection, and threat detection for 4 out of 5 Zero Trust pillars. Trellix XDR assumes a lack of visibility and delivers actionable insights by utilizing data from native and third-party tools, thereby accelerating detection and remediation efforts.

No single vendor possesses all of the tools, skills, or capabilities to complete a Zero Trust implementation. Choosing the right partners and leveraging an ecosystem is key. Trellix offers unmatched integrations with a broad partner ecosystem to speed up your Zero Trust implementation.

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