Implementing Zero Trust Architecture in Modern Enterprises

by | Apr 22, 2024 | Cybersecurity

In this ever-evolving world of technology, we must acknowledge the ongoing threat of cyberattacks. Increasing virtual activity puts hackers in a position to prey on sensitive data. Accidental vulnerabilities are not an option.

So how can CIOs keep their company safe? Experts say zero trust is the only option. This “never trust, always verify” approach ensures malicious actors are not given access to private materials.

CIOs can integrate zero trust in their corporations through the well-guided principles outlined in this article.

Transitioning to Zero Trust

The transition to zero trust requires a five-step process as follows:

  1. Identify External Vulnerabilities: Consider your system’s surface. Determine how attackers can gain access and the vulnerabilities that exist. This focused approach will minimize the risk of imposing unneeded tools and policies across your network.
  2. Implement Network-wide Controls: Delve deep into your system to determine how traffic flows and what sensitive data will be potentially exposed as users gain access. Doing so will help you decide which network controls should be implemented and their positioning.
  3. Design a Zero Trust Network: A zero trust network must be customized to a company’s needs. Tools like a next-generation firewall (NGFW) or multi-factor authentication (MFA) may align with your needs.
  4. Update to a Zero Trust Policy: Also called the Kipling Method, the process for creating a zero-trust policy requires to you ask who, what, when, where, how, and why, for all users, devices, and networks that gain access to your system.
  5. Ongoing Monitoring: Zero trust will only be affected if it is integrated alongside ongoing monitoring. IT teams must be vigilant to ensure potential issues don’t develop into larger problems.

How Does Zero Trust Impact Company Culture?

For zero trust to be successful, it must be upheld across organizations. It is not solely the responsibility of the IT department. Each department and team member must integrate zero trust into their digital processes and operations.

Zero trust must be implemented into the onboarding, and more importantly, the offboarding process. Companies should consider zero trust as a characteristic that guides their hiring decisions and training procedures. Offboarding requires a change of control settings.

CIOs must also consider how a zero-trust culture can impact employee relationships. An ISACA report states. “In a zero-trust environment, management explicitly and implicitly states that the trustee (employee) is neither dependable nor trustworthy.” This attitude can diminish loyalty within organizations.

Leaders can only prevent this mindset by ensuring employees understand the need for a zero-trust structure. They must explain the risk of human errors which can make systems vulnerable. They can also show trust in other ways by delegating tasks and responsibilities.

Zero Trust Best Practices

  • Identify Your Network Assets: This process requires you to account for all your users, devices, and surfaces. It will help you determine which data is vulnerable. Identify necessary system and software upgrades based on this information.
  • Create Unique Device Identities: Device identities will help you identify which devices are connecting to your network. You can determine which devices are verified, and which pose a threat.
  • Centralized Monitoring: Centralized monitoring allows you to monitor all devices on a single dashboard. You will receive one report with all activity to prevent the risk of missing malicious activity on alternate reports. While automation can aid with monitoring, each device should be monitored following regulations based on its unique characteristics.
  • Implement Zero Trust with Your Local Network: Zero trust means even your local network, that being the devices in your building and office, could pose a threat. These devices should be subject to the same protocols you would use with external networks.
  • Network Segmentation: Split your teams into small units to keep your system protected. This approach offers added security when defense techniques fail, and malicious actors penetrate your interior. Various tools can help you achieve your goal. They will ensure permissions are limited to those who need it.
  • Use Various Verification Measures: Passcodes are a relatively weak security measure. Keep your system protected by combining passcodes with multi-factor authentication. Provide access through alternate systems and devices. Use facial and fingerprint recognition to increase security.

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Additional Zero Trust Resources

Guide to Zero Trust Security

Implementing a Zero-Trust Framework for Identity Management


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