What is Zero Trust?

What is Zero TrustZero trust is a security strategy based on the concept “never trust, always verify.” The idea of zero trust was a response to traditional perimeter network security that assumed everything inside the network was safe. A perimeter security network puts all of its defenses at the edge of the network. This means if a criminal gets inside, they are able to move around freely and access any applications or data on the network. Additionally, with remote work and cloud-based data and applications, it’s more difficult to define that perimeter. Zero trust changes the model and requires verification for each user and device accessing each application and element of data.

The zero trust model works generally on three tenets. First, the framework must identify and authorize the user. Users are no longer automatically authorized simply because they are on the office network. Authorization typically includes multi-factor authentication (MFA).

Once a user is authorized, they only have access to the data and applications they need to perform their job. This policy is known as ‘least privilege’ and helps to limit the data accessible to a hacker in the event of a breach. With the least privilege policy, an employee in marketing would not have access to personally identifiable information from human resources. Conversely, human resources would not have access to the latest confidential marketing presentation.

Lastly, the zero trust model sets device requirements that must be met in order to access the data or applications. Device requirements could be as simple as an approved antivirus must be installed, or could be much more complex depending on the business need.

In addition to these three tenets, network segmentation and monitoring are often implemented to further prevent lateral movement and to log unusual activity. Zero trust does not trust any users or applications by default. After a user, application, and device are approved, the zero trust model continues to monitor the criteria and discontinues access if any of the criteria change.

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Posted by Charles Wright