Identity security: A Zero Trust approach

Author: Daya Kannan, Product Marketing Specialist, Zoho Corp.

What is Zero Trust?

Zero Trust is the term for an evolving set of cybersecurity paradigms that moves an organisation’s defensive measures from static, network-based perimeters to instead focus on users, assets, and resources. It is a security mindset where every incoming connection is treated as a potentially malicious request until explicitly verified. This concept was introduced by John Kindervag, one of the world’s foremost cybersecurity experts, and emphasizes three principles:

  • Never trust, always verify: Authenticate and authorize based on a range of data points such as user identity, geolocation, device, and IP Address.
  • Use least privilege access: Protect data by limiting user access with just-enough-access (JEA) risk-based adaptive policies.
  • Assume breach: Limit the blast radius to minimize exposure in case of a breach. Use analytics to gain visibility, drive threat detection, and improve defences.

Why a Zero Trust model is important

Traditional IT frameworks secured organisational resources within the corporate network, with computers belonging to domains that were company-owned and managed. In today’s world, not only do users log on remotely from external networks using personal devices, but access to the corporate network might even depend on IAM solutions that are hosted on the cloud.

Given such nebulous perimeters, how can an organisation secure its resources? How do we ensure that only authorized personnel log onto the network? In a world where credential theft is a top digital threat, how do we trust even those who have the right passwords? The answer is that we don’t. We verify at every step. Implementing a Zero Trust approach is literally that: Trusting no one implicitly and verifying every access attempt.

The benefits of a Zero Trust model include

  • Gaining greater visibility over the network
  • Reducing the risk of a data breach
  • Simplifying IT management
  • Meeting compliance requirements

Core capabilities for a Zero Trust identity deployment

Implementing Zero Trust principles to protect the identities in your organisation requires you to keep the following factors in mind:

  • MFA verification: Using multi-factor authentication (MFA) checks along with traditional passwords tightens security and provides an additional layer of protection.
  • Contextual policies: Enforcing access control using context-based risk levels calculated in real time can significantly improve an organisation’s security posture. For instance, connections originating within the corporate perimeter can be classified as low-risk and remote logins, high-risk.
  • Passwordless authentication: Credentials can be cracked and passwords can be stolen. Implementing passwordless authentication removes this threat from the entire equation.
  • Analytics: Using AI and ML-powered analytics to track logon behaviour and access patterns can help identify security loopholes and potential attacks.

Starting your Zero Trust journey

Explicit verification is at the core of Zero Trust, and ManageEngine ADSelfService Plus can help your organisation implement it. It achieves this using advanced features like adaptive MFAconditional accesspasswordless authentication, and enterprise SSO. Interested? A fully-functional demo is also available here.

We also feel there is an eBook surrounding the topic at hand that you may find beneficial, you can download it here.

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