Why you Should Trust ‘Zero Trust’ Networking

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Zero trust network

While it may not sound too ‘friendly’ taken out of context, zero trust networking is actually a security model used by infrastructure teams to mitigate the risks associated with unauthorised network access. Just as it sounds, inside a zero trust network, trust is never a given (even for those who work inside the company that owns the network) but, instead, must be continuously verified.  

Whether users are inside or outside the organisation, with this network model, each user, app, service, or device wishing to gain network access is authenticated, authorised, and validated based on its context and security posture – even if it has been authenticated before. 

Zero trust networking also follows the principle of ‘least-privilege’ access. This means those accessing the network will receive the minimum level of access required to perform their activity or job function. Any privileged access granted will usually be temporary, just for that session.  

Although it can be used within a traditional network model, it doesn’t rely on a traditional network perimeter. This allows organisations to redefine connectivity for modern workplaces where networks can be local, cloud-based, or a hybrid model combining both, with resources and workers in disparate geographical locations.   

As such, zero trust networking is uniquely suited to contemporary business environments which have taken advantage of the many benefits of digital transformation. 

How does zero trust networking operate? 

This networking philosophy differs from traditional networking since it only verifies users for access one time, i.e., the first time a user or device entered the environment.  

While many organisations start by replacing a VPN on a like-for-like basis to reduce the complexity of implementing zero trust networking architecture initially, common in ZTNA models is the use of micro-perimeters, sometimes termed ‘micro-segmentation’ to protect data and assets on the network. In this model, each perimeter surrounds its own asset and each has its own authentication requirements determined by narrowly defined policies, e.g., device, location, time stamp, recent activity, or even the nature of the request itself.   

It’s true that it might look slightly different from supplier to supplier, however, several standards from recognised and reputable suppliers can help organisations implement it themselves, along with speaking to a managed service provider about the benefits of this solution.  

For example, some of the tools that can support the networking elements include Zscaler Private Access (ZPA) or iBoss SASE. These are cloud-based solutions that provide secure access to applications and data from anywhere by creating a secure tunnel between the user’s device and the application or data in use. This tunnel ensures that the user’s traffic is encrypted and that only authorised users can access the application or data. 

What are the benefits of zero trust networking? 

There are several benefits for organisations, including increased cyber security and better infrastructure management. Reasons organisations might wish to implement zero trust networking include:  

Improved security 

Using the architecture to ensure that only authorised users can access applications and data, regardless of their location or device makes it much more difficult for attackers to gain access to sensitive data or systems. With a well defined policy, you can provide third party access through mutual collaboration with those organisations and keep them genuinely separated from internal users. 

Reduced risk 

Cyber criminals can attack networks and critical applications and threaten to leak or destroy valuable data unless a ransom is paid. Zero trust networks reduce the chance of hackers accessing and severely limits the potential harm should access be gained.  

Increased efficiency  

By using this network to create secure tunnels between users and company applications and data, organisations can reduce the need for expensive security and provide safe, remote access to users to help improve the flexibility and working practices of the workforce. 

Better infrastructure management 

As network infrastructure becomes more complex and dispersed, with users and resources working from multiple locations across cloud-based and hybrid models, it can be much harder to maintain a defensible security perimeter. This network makes it easier to manage connectivity to dispersed infrastructure since, by design, it is made up of multiple perimeters. Security is seamless and better integrated throughout networks. Access to different groups of resources can be automated or simply provisioned regardless of the platform the service resides on. 

Find out more about zero trust networking  

A zero trust network is not simply about installing the ‘right’ hardware but rather about taking a new approach to security overall. Crucially, we need to understand the best approach to secure information while ensuring we do not make it difficult for the user to do the job. This architecture can be incorporated into existing alongside your organisation’s specific risk profile and in line with any automated processes and workflows you wish to set up.  

To learn more about how the Littlefish team can help your organisation implement a zero trust model, please get in touch using the green button on this page.  

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