What Is Zero Trust Security?
Zero trust is a security policy model that assumes everything on the network is inherently untrusted. Everything should be denied access except for what it is explicitly allowed and fully vetted.
In today’s distributed environment, with data and applications running on remote cloud services and the growing use of mobile and IoT devices, the security perimeter approach is no longer valid. It’s quickly being replaced by the zero trust model based on a set of rigid security principles aligned with a recommended use of technologies and techniques. Zero trust is less a technology than it is a security policy objective and design approach.
What Are the Benefits of Zero Trust Security?
To significantly enhance operational security, a new approach is needed. This is particularly true for protecting critical OT network segments, cyber-physical systems, processes and more. The zero trust security model can be used to create a highly defensible network infrastructure that’s much harder to breach and compromise.
With the right network policies and tools in place, zero trust can be used to protect against a broad range of sophisticated cyberattacks. While such attacks have become so frequent that they are considered commonplace, they still bear the risk of astronomical expense.
Another benefit of implementing a zero trust architecture includes safeguarding the synergies of IT and OT network convergence. As critical infrastructure and industrial organizations seek to survive and thrive in an intensely competitive environment, the need to operationally converge networks has become a top requirement. This changes the landscape of network security by increasing the facets malicious entities use to siphon value from companies. Implementing a zero trust cybersecurity model aligns well with the gains sought by OT/IT network convergence, and provides added protection against unwanted malicious activity.
Three Common Use Cases for Zero Trust Security
- Closing Security Gaps Created by Secure Remote Access (SRA): SRA enables employees, partners and third-party suppliers to access company resources from remote locations. Dependence on SRA increased dramatically during the pandemic as a way of maintaining operations during lockdowns and other workforce disruptions. As a result, the attack surface that could be targeted by cyber criminals increased exponentially. Zero trust principles allow remote users to only access specific pre-determined systems, protecting the rest of the connected network 24/7.
- Adopting Federal Cybersecurity Guidelines for Zero Trust: Several frameworks can be used to leverage zero trust to protect critical production and operational systems. Using the NIST Cybersecurity guidelines issued by the U.S. Department of Commerce is a good start. The first step is to establish an accurate and up-to-date inventory of all connected devices. This creates the foundation necessary to prepare your network for implementation of a zero trust strategy.
- Preventing the Spread of Malware and Internal Threats: When a malicious attack is successful, a critical remediation step is to quickly identify the compromised system and prevent the attack from spreading. This also applies to rogue insiders who choose to compromise hosts or steal data. Zero trust assumes systems are compromised, taking a post-breach mindset that mitigates malicious activity using pre-defined defenses.
Top Four Challenges of Implementing a Zero Trust Security Model
- Determining new and essential security rules
- Blocking legitimate communications
- Accounting for all connected devices
- Protecting key performance windows
Best Practices & Recommendations for Zero Trust Security
User identities and policies
Nozomi Networks captures definitions and maintains a repository of zero trust policies. In addition, threat and asset intelligence can be used to establish and enhance security posture requirements for network attached devices.
Continuously validate devices and configurations
Nozomi Networks continuously validates endpoints for vulnerabilities and indicators of compromise, as well as verifying that zero trust policies aren’t violated.
See the invisible, and build device behavioral profiles
Nozomi Networks actively monitors device and user behaviors to establish a baseline, ensuring that alarms are triggered when zero trust policies are violated.
Zero Trust systems need to automatically enforce policies
Nozomi Networks works with firewall, network assurance and other partners to enforce the policy requirements of a zero trust architecture. For example, quarantining a rogue device when anomalous behavior is detected.
To learn more about how Nozomi Networks helps you apply Zero Trust security across your OT environment, check out our resources below.