A zero trust security model is based on the idea that a company should ‘never trust, always verify.’ Unlike in traditional IT network security models that trust anyone and anything within a network once it has been initially verified, with a zero trust approach no-one and nothing is trusted. This means strict identity verification is continuously required for every person and device that is trying to access resources within a private network, even if they’re already active in it. 

The core concepts of zero trust security

When setting up this type of security model, there are a few key principles to keep in mind, such as:

  • Continuous monitoring and validation of people and devices, which can involve regular validation and periodic time-outs of logins and connections. 
  • Least privilege access. This only gives users as much access as they need. This means that VPNs aren’t compatible with zero trust models as they give access to the whole connected network
  • Microsegmentation which enables smaller zones to be created within a secure network that allow separate access for each part.
  • Multifactor authentication (MFA). This requires multiple pieces of evidence to verify someone’s identity so that the network can be sure the user is who they claim to be.

What are the benefits of this security model?

There are several security benefits to implementing a zero trust approach, from increasing visibility across your organisation, supporting remote work and improving data protection to supporting regulatory compliance and reducing the damage caused by data breaches. According to a recent Cisco survey, 86% of respondents have already started moving toward zero trust, however most are not mature with their approach yet. This means there is still a long way to go before organisations are able to reap the benefits. 

How to implement a zero trust model

There are several best practices to consider when setting up this type of security model within your network. It starts with understanding the current security environment and business objectives, before creating strong device identity and introducing centralised monitoring. This needs to be backed up with multiple verification methods and company-wide zero trust policies that everyone in the organisation needs to follow.