What Is Zero Trust Network

The pressure to protect company networks through security has never been higher than today. Cybercrime affects companies of all sizes, and its costs run into trillions, making online and network security more important than ever.

To combat the growing threat, businesses are being forced to employ new technologies and protocols to lock down their internal and external networks. While there’s nothing new about the idea of cybercrime, the techniques employed have become increasingly advanced. This has led, in turn, to a need for considerably more complex and comprehensive security mechanisms.

What Is Zero Trust Network

What Is It?
One such approach gathering considerable traction among security experts is the concept of the Zero Trust Network.

The term Zero Trust Network (also known as Zero Trust Architecture) was first coined in 2010 by an analyst at Forrester Research Inc. Since then, the technologies involved in setting up zero trust have become more mainstream, leading to its wider adoption – click here to find out more.

What Does Zero Trust Mean?
In essence, Zero Trust works on the assumption that attacks on a network can come from anywhere – whether it from the inside or the outside, from a trusted source or an unknown visitor. Zero Trust takes a holistic approach to network security, addressing all potential points of weakness (real or assumed) to minimize the risk of an attack.

Why Zero Trust Is Important
A traditional IT security network would be set up to deter infiltration from the outside. Almost like a home alarm system, IT security worked on the assumption that, if you were inside the building already, you could inherently be trusted.

Of course, this approach has the major flaw that if an intruder has already managed to get in, they will have free access to everything – and there’s very little anyone can do about it. Indeed, the security network likely won’t flag any problems as the intruder would be considered as trusted – purely because they’re inside already.

The problems with this approach become significantly more complex when you consider the sharing of information between companies.

Implementing A ‘Need-To-Know’ Approach To Data
To combat this open-door access policy, zero trust networks break down data into component parts and grant access purely on a need-to-know basis. For example, an employee working in accounts would likely need access to procurement files, whereas someone in marketing probably wouldn’t. This need-to-know basis leads to the segmentation of a network – with separate securities employed to access each part.

Employing Multi-Factor Authentication
The implementation of Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) has become common across all industries as a means for additional security. MFA uses more than one security check to authenticate and validate a user. Commonly this is done via 2-Factor Authorization, where a user passes an initial security check (typically a username and password check) followed by an additional code being sent to a device (normally cellphone), which has to be entered at a second check.

MFA greatly enhances network security since it’s extremely difficult for an intruder to have access to both a username/password combination and a mobile device, at the same time. Of course, this still places responsibility for network users to look after their mobile devices and report a lost or stolen cellphone – but it’s still a considerable step-up from traditional security mechanisms.

Featured image by Darwin Laganzon from Pixabay.