How To Implement Zero Trust

Zentry Security How to Implement Zero Trust

How To Implement Zero Trust

Zero Trust is a network security model that trusts no one, regardless of their location.  Increasingly, trust can no longer be established based on whether a user is “inside” or “outside” the network. In a Zero Trust model, every user is vetted before – and during – a connection, and every connection is governed by a policy that controls what resources can be accessed.
Zero Trust’s central tenet of “never trust, always verify” applies to virtually any organization because of these primary reasons:

  • Hybrid architectures leveraging cloud security and data center applications have been widely adopted.
  • Threat actors and data breaches have increased dramatically.
  • Remote work is now typical and workforces are now widely distributed, with employees, contractors, and 3rd parties needing to gain secure access to applications and resources anytime, anywhere, and from any device.

Understanding the different considerations you need to take before implementing zero trust is important in order to do it effectively, and we’re here to tell you just that.
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When considering how to implement zero trust security, it’s important to understand that you likely have some aspects of Zero Trust already in place, such as user authentication or network segmentation.  However, for access control and reduced risk, implementing a modern, cloud-based architecture that streamlines user access and workflows while governing access to specific applications (rather than entire networks) should be considered.

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Why Implement Zero Trust

By implementing a zero trust architecture, organizations realize faster access, reduced attack surface, better compliance, and greater visibility into users and applications.
Key components of the Zero Trust security model are these important capabilities:

  • Users are no longer given implicit trust as in the case of traditional VPN.  Instead, they are required to authenticate before – and sometimes during – each session.
  • Policies limit access to individual applications.  Users only get access to applications they are entitled to.  Unlike traditional VPNs which enable broad network-level access, zero trust significantly reduces the “blast radius” if unauthorized access succeeds.
  • All transactions are encrypted end-to-end.  Since it is the lifeblood of any business, the security and integrity of data is enhanced.
  • Workflows are enhanced.  Zero Trust approaches like Zentry Trusted Access leverage clientless, browser-based connections.  Users don’t need complex endpoint clients to manage and maintain; they simply point their browser to a portal of curated applications and click.

Finally, given the increasingly menacing threat landscape, not implementing Zero Trust brings numerous risks including the possibility of lost revenue from a dispersed and distributed workforce unable to communicate efficiently to the very real possibility of data loss and leakage by continuing to leverage traditional VPNs.

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How Long Does It Take To Implement Zero Trust?

The good news is that modern Zero Trust Network Access architectures take advantage of cloud, virtualization, and DevOps technologies to help organizations with deployment.  It’s quite possible to be up and running in as little as two hours.

 

Diagram showing how to implement zero trust network access

 

The primary component of ZTNA is a central cloud-based service with full multi-tenancy and complete data sovereignty.  Additional components that connect applications to the service leverage VMs.  And, best of all, with Zentry Trusted Access, there are no complex clients to install, maintain, or support.
Organizations of all sizes can quickly deploy Zentry Trusted Access.  IT admins simply specify policies based on individual users, or groups of users, and point them to a single portal where those applications are linked.  Users don’t have to learn which VPN to use, or deal with complex endpoint clients – they just grab a browser and go!
Because there are no appliances to purchase and expenditures typically come from easier OpEx budgets.  There is no training needed or complex CLIs syntax to master – policies are natural language and enforced centrally and do not need to be replicated across your network.

What Are The Different Approaches To Zero Trust Architecture

Software Defined Perimeter was an early term used to describe an architecture where software boundaries enclosed individual resources on an overlay network.  Since then, Zero Trust has become the more widely used term and mandates that no part of a computer or networking system can be implicitly trusted, including the humans using it.  Therefore, organizations must place restrictions based on continuously verified identity and allowing only sufficient access to specific applications – the principle of “least privilege”.
Zentry Trusted Access enforces Zero Trust through several mechanisms:

  • User identities are continuously verified through multi-factor authentication.
  • Only specific applications and resources can be accessed by users through policies as set by their IT administrators
  • Users are granted access to the applications needed to do their jobs – the principle of least privilege
  • Applications cannot be discovered by users who do not have privileges to see them – this is called Dark Cloud support.
  • All data is encrypted end-to-end, safeguarding data in motion and significantly reducing the possibility of data loss and leakage.
  • All access is continuously monitored, providing administrators with the ability to detect anomalous activity such as unauthorized access

Risks To Consider When Implementing Zero Trust

Enterprise networks have relied on VPNs for secure network connectivity for many years.  However, VPNs grant network-level access privileges where users (both authorized and unauthorized) can potentially discover and access applications they are not entitled to.  Today, the average cost of a data breach is approaching $4M USD (IBM Ponemon, 2021).  And organizations of all sizes are actively being targeted by threat actors.  Indeed, healthcare providers are among the most targeted since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
Implementing Zero Trust is crucial to ensure that organizations of all sizes can be both productive, collaborative, and secure.  Solely relying on aging VPN technology is likely to be “penny wise, pound foolish” – the stakes are only going to go higher.

The good news is that Zero Trust Network Access architectures like Zentry Trusted Access can be deployed in parallel with VPNs.  There is no “rip and replace” needed – administrators can define policies for individual users or groups, and point those users at the applications they need to access.  Users simply leverage their HTML5 browser to access them, without complex clients or additional training.

Steps To Implement Zero Trust

Again, it’s important to note that you have likely implemented some level of Zero Trust already, from SSO and MFA to network segmentation.

Deploy Multi-factor Authentication

  • Zero Trust starts with identity.  Enforcing multi-factor authentication is always a good idea; MFA ensures that users are fully vetted before they access any resource on your network.  Zentry Trusted Access integrates with multiple authentication vendors such as RSA, Duo, Google, and Okta.

Restrict Access with Policies

  • Policy enforcement governs access to specific applications.  Unlike VPNs which offer network-level access, Zero Trust only allows access at the application level.  For users, this means that they can only access the resources and applications that administrators specify.  Zentry Trusted Access uses natural-language policies that administrators can define for individuals or groups of users to access specific applications.

Leverage Encryption

  • End-to-end encryption of data in motion.  Zentry Trusted Access leverages transport layer security, TLS, by default and uses symmetric-key encryption to provide data confidentiality.  This significantly enhances an organization’s security profile.

Best Practices For Implementing Zero Trust

While it may sound complex, implementing Zero Trust Network Access architectures like Zentry Trusted Access is straightforward.  And getting up and running is a matter of minutes, not days or weeks.

Define Policies

These are natural-language policies that associate individual users or groups with specific applications.  Meta-data, such as time of day or location information, can also be applied, restricting or granting access based on these additional parameters.

Add Users

Add users from your existing authentication store, such as AD, LDAP, or Radius.

Define your Data, Applications, Assets, and Services

These are the applications and resources you’ll enable users to access.  Data may be business transactional information, software code, consumer payment information, or personal health records.  Applications may be those that govern your business, like ERP and WMS apps.  Assets are those that are critical for your business including servers and file shares that workforces need access to.  Services include things like DNS, DHCP, and Active Directory that enable connectivity.

Gain Insights & Visibility

After pointing your users to an End User Portal (EUP) of curated applications that you’ve defined, they simply point their HTML5 browser to those applications and access them – but without the need for a complex VPN client.

Zentry Trusted Access makes it a simple process to get up and running quickly and easily.  There are no complex clients to administer, maintain, or support.  And it is super simple to connect applications to Zentry Trusted Access – typical implementations take as little as two hours.

We invite you to try out Zentry Trusted Access with our free trial and see how easy it is to deploy Zero Trust in your organization.



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