Network protection is among the most important aspects of cybersecurity today. The complex web of connections between vast numbers of devices and systems presents a huge attack surface for every organizational network.
Those who choose a more traditional path to network protection will simply seal the network perimeter, like a moat around a castle. But we’re not in the era of castles and moats anymore. Inside an organization, users are constantly forming connections with the outside – browsing the web, downloading files, running scripts, and communicating across continents. The benefits of this open, collaborative culture are great, but there is one big downside: users inside the network now present an undeniable security risk, whether they have malicious intent, fall prey to social engineering, or make a simple human error. A zero trust network model answers this challenge with one simple rule: no one can be trusted.
The benefits of zero-trust networks are clear: regardless of their source, internal or external, zero trust network principles are designed to stop threats from becoming actualized. Setting up a zero trust network requires carefully following the zero trust model.
Here are five steps you should take to effect a zero trust network implementation:
- Build a crystal-clear network picture
This stage is the crucial foundation of any zero trust network design. Analyze all parts of your network, building a picture of every individual subsystem, including all hardware and software.
- Identify valuable data and map data flows
Once you’ve analyzed your system, work out the key locations in the system where valuable and sensitive data and resources are kept, and which users require access to which data. Using this information, create a map of data flows through the system. Once everything is mapped, you can begin to optimize work processes, streamlining the flow of valuable data. The resulting zero trust network diagram will be used in the next stage: microsegmentation.
- Microsegment the network
Based on the data flows you have just analyzed and mapped, create your zero trust network architecture by splitting the network into small microsegments. Define protocols and authentication systems to ensure that network users are only allowed access to the exact microsegments and resources they need. All other parts of the network must be off-limits. Whenever a user needs access to a particular microsegment, they must be identified, authenticated, and only given access until their task is complete.
- Implement zero trust network security controls
Every microsegment has its own microperimeter, and every microperimeter must be secured using zero trust network solutions – both hardware and software. This can (and should) include traditional solutions like firewalls, web gateways and antivirus software. For zero-trust protection from web-based threats, Remote Browser Isolation (RBI) is arguably the most effective zero trust network solution available. When users browse the web using RBI, all active code is rendered outside of the organizational network. Thus, regardless of whether it is benign or malicious, no web code is trusted, in keeping with zero trust network principles. An interactive content stream is delivered to users in real time, ensuring a seamless browsing experience for maximum productivity and minimum disruption to workflows.
- Monitor the network and make continuous improvements
The dynamic, ever-changing nature of networks and network threats makes monitoring and continuous improvement essential. Security tools should be constantly analyzing your systems in order to detect possible threats and highlight areas of the network that are not adequately protected. Continuous improvements should be made based on these analytics, such as installing new types of zero trust network software and tightening up security controls around microsegments.
With carefully design and planning, a zero trust network architecture can provide your organization with the most comprehensive network security available. Using secure microsegments, a zero trust network model protects your network from both external and internal threats and keeps valuable corporate resources safe at all times.
Click here for more thought leadership from Ericom on patching the browser-sized hole in most zero-trust security implementations