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Written by Hitachi Systems Security on 25 March 2022

Cyber hygiene – how to adopt a zero-trust mindset

Zero trust is the newest buzzword in the industry, and as such, it often gets overused by both providers and organizations. It often seems to refer to a better or more comprehensive security. But what is it, really?

Zero trust is not a tool, or a service one can opt in or purchase, rather it is a mindset that organizations need to adopt. There are two approaches to zero trust:

  1. User to application identification or zero trust network access (ZTNA)
  2. And microsegmentation or identity based segmentation.

Zero trust network access – ZTNA

Zero trust goes well beyond the idea of traditional architecture and network access that once beyond the secure organizational parameters, users, data and applications are secure.

There may be weak spots within networks, because of dated settings, incompatibility of applications added over time, or due to users with lax security habits, and these potential weak spots could be targeted by malicious actors. Identifying and patching these weak spots is an absolute necessity, however the adaptation of zero-trust mindset goes beyond this. The move from implicit trust to explicit or zero-trust means changing organizational attitude towards security.

The concept refers to a vigilant mindset of constant verification and never accepting that internal networks are secure. Zero trust, when properly adopted should cover most aspects of modern operational structure, cloud-based, remote work, or hybrid environments.

So how to get to ZTNA?

The focus needs to be on potential vulnerabilities that naturally arise with remote access.

  • Classify roles and responsibilities and adjust access accordingly, while defining user attributes to enforce access.
  • Test legacy application compatibility and identify any unused or dormant protocols that could become a weakness later.
  • Schedule replacement for all dated applications and access points that could expose vulnerability.

Microsegmentation

Identity segmentation or workload segmentation is a method to identify and restrict access to applications or resources based on user identities and consequently remove the possibility of the lateral spread of threats. Often, security applications or protocols that do not communicate reduces transparency of potential weak points or threats. The most common way to work around this issue is to manually review tools and protocols which become highly inefficient as the network grows in complexity. Finding a product that allows for identity-based segmentation can get out of hand fast, as there is no standard way of deploying coverage, or individual integrations of existing applications.

How can this be tackled?

  • Identity based segmentation will allow for a more granular view to reduce potential blind spots and will make it possible to apply rules to similar groups.
  • Automate rules based on segments so they can run according to predefined parameters so instead of trying to consolidate multiple communication streams, a more defined focus can be given to reviewing network security

 

Basically, zero trust is the shift from traditional preventative cybersecurity to an ongoing process of enforcing the “never trust, always verify” approach. The shift is to move away from the assumption that everything within the security parameters is safe and assume that threat actors can be present and more importantly move across within the safety zone. Thus, the goal is to create a comprehensive security model that allows sufficient control of networks, applications and environments without compromising on performance and communication. It is not something that can be done without a strategy or precise planning, but increasingly, organizations need to allocate resources to making this change at the very core of operations.

 

If you want to know more about Zero-Trust mindset and how to initiate organizational change regarding cybersecurity, reach out to one of our experts to schedule an informational session.

Cybersecurity Services Zero Trust

 

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