Presidential Order Mandates Zero Trust Architecture
The devastating May 6 Colonial Pipeline cyberattack froze fuel transport for the entire East Coast.
Cyberattacks like the Colonial Pipeline attack have become disturbingly frequent – and increasingly brazen. Less than a week after reports of the attack first surfaced, President Biden published an executive order on improving the nation’s cybersecurity defenses.
One of the most important parts of the executive order is the stipulation for Federal agencies to adopt “Zero trust architecture”. Private organizations across every industry, knowing they too could become targets, have followed suit.
The Federal government is leading the way in adopting a robust cybersecurity approach that can prevent debilitating ransomware attacks. Organizations that build their own zero trust solutions will be better-equipped to mitigate and respond to cyberattacks in the future.
What is Zero Trust Architecture?
Zero trust architecture is a strategic security initiative that challenges one of the basic assumptions most networks make of their users – the idea that they should be trusted.
Since the digital revolution of the 1990s, organizations have largely focused on building efficient infrastructure solutions for managing and communicating data. This often meant integrating different parts of their business using trusted channels.
This approach is the product of a problematic assumption. It assumes that everything inside a network should be trusted. By focusing security on external threats, it’s impossible to guard effectively against internal ones like compromised user accounts. Cybersecurity was something that only happened beyond the network edge.
Zero trust works on the assumption that any user account, whether inside or outside the network, needs to be authenticated, authorized, and continuously validated. It assumes there is no such thing as a traditional network edge.
This is especially important for today’s cloud-first, mobile-connected world. For many organizations, there truly is no such thing as a network edge. Instead, there is a complex landscape of endpoint devices, cloud services, and third-party partners.
Under these conditions, zero trust architecture is the best way to ensure only authorized users gain access to critical assets and resources. It go beyond one-time validation and establishes constant, continuous validation for every connection any user wants to make.
How Zero Trust Architecture Works
The first step towards establishing zero trust architecture is identifying a “protect surface” made of the networks’ most critical elements. These are typically made up of its most valuable data, assets, applications, and services (DAAS).
This surface is much smaller than your organization’s entire attack surface, and there is no uncertainty about it. You always know what your most critical systems are up to.
Once you’ve identified the protect surface, you need to identify how traffic moves through your organization in relation to it. This means understanding who your users are, what applications they use, and what interdependencies exist between them. This is the moment when you can activate segmentation gateways that continuously validate users who access network resources in real-time.
Since zero trust architecture is not location-dependent, it can verify user data coming from any location or device in the world. This also means that zero trust solutions must be integrated across the entire network environment. There’s no other way to gain consistent visibility, enforcement, and control.
How to Deploy Zero Trust Architecture
Many business owners dismiss zero trust architecture as expensive and complex. This isn’t always true.
Zero trust architecture is an approach to managing your existing network infrastructure. It is not a rip-and-replace solution for improving cybersecurity.
There are no “zero trust products”. There are only technologies that fit well with the zero trust approach, and technologies that don’t.
Dual-factor authentication, next-generation firewalls, and data exfiltration prevention are examples of technologies that help build the zero trust framework. Every organization will have to take a unique approach to identifying the way these technologies advance zero trust principles according to their unique workflows.
Three Industry Examples for Deploying Zero Trust Architecture
Implement NIST-Compliant Zero Trust Architecture Technologies
The basic principle behind zero trust architecture is treating the enterprise network like the public Internet. No user should enjoy the privilege of being automatically identified and authenticated, and no data should be available for unscrutinized data exfiltration.
Organizations that employ zero trust architecture have an audit trail for every activity that takes place on the network, ensuring fast incident detection and event response for a wide range of security emergencies.
BlackFog offers NIST-compliant data exfiltration solutions that help organizations implement zero trust architectures. We assist organizations in the utilities, healthcare, and education sectors protect themselves from cybercrime. Find out how we can help you deploy zero trust architecture today.