Zero Trust Identity is a security framework that limits user access to only the resources they need to do their jobs. It’s a critical part of any cybersecurity strategy.
Many organizations implementing a Zero Trust strategy have significantly impacted their network security. This is because a successful implementation involves verifying user identities, limiting access, and monitoring access attempts and behaviors.
Verify User Identity
Unlike other security models that automatically trust devices and people already inside a network, the zero trust identity for the cloud era requires anyone attempting to access a private network to be identified and verified.
This extra security helps prevent data breaches. It also reduces the risk of malicious users moving laterally and gaining access to sensitive data. Identity-based Zero Trust enables you to verify the identities of all devices, cloud workloads and containers that access corporate resources. This is important because faulty machine identities are the source of many critical errors that could expose corporate data.
When an identity is granted access to a network, the network needs to know exactly what access is required for that identity. It also needs to be able to track access attempts & behaviors so that it can automatically re-verify access if the user changes their identity. This can be achieved through several tools, including VPNs, multi-factor authentication (MFA), device approval and intrusion prevention systems (IPS). All of these technologies need to work together to implement a Zero Trust architecture.
Monitor Access Attempts & Behaviors
Zero Trust Identity continuously verifies user access permissions to on-prem and cloud assets. It compares each user’s actions to baseline behavior analytics to detect anomalies that require elevated verification and immediate action. Unlike traditional network segmentation, which relies on static rules, identity-based segmentation is dynamic and can react quickly to workloads, data and users’ evolving context. This means access is only granted following a granular risk analysis of the user’s authentication activity. Moreover, the decision is made at the entity level rather than the network level, which can deliver greater granularity and better risk detection capabilities.
Enable Multi-Factor Authentication
Multi-factor authentication, or MFA, is a key aspect of the Zero Trust model. It provides a way for security teams to double-check that the people behind the screen who open company applications are actually who they say they are. Cybercriminals can steal passwords, so a strong authentication solution is crucial to protecting against network breaches. Modern MFA protects against these types of attacks by requiring something you know (a password), something you have (a smartphone or crypto token), and something you are (biometric data) to verify your identity.
Enable Single Sign-On
A zero-trust architecture based on verifying user identities and access permissions is a critical step to protecting your infrastructure, data, and systems. It reduces the attack surface, minimizes damage, and enables more effective breach detection. When an organization implements Zero Trust Identity, it needs a single sign-on solution that works with enterprise and third-party applications. That solution must also allow for the ability to restrict access and consent requests.
Restrict Access to Sensitive Data
Zero Trust access management can limit access to sensitive data, allowing only users that have legitimate business reasons to access it. This minimizes damage if an end user account is compromised or their device is stolen.
Zero Trust security enforces policies based on context, including the user’s identity, location, device, service or workload, to prevent lateral movement of threats throughout an environment. This requires the least privileged access for users and devices and micro-segmentation to separate security perimeters into smaller regions.
Limit Access to Mobile Devices
A key component of Zero Trust security is limiting access to mobile devices. This can be done by leveraging the latest security technologies to secure access and device and identity management capabilities to ensure that only authorized users have access to sensitive information. A great way to do this is by employing a network security solution that combines networking with a solid ZTT strategy. For example, Cloudflare One is a SASE platform with a built-in Zero Trust strategy that will help you to protect your data and your users better.
Enable Real-Time Analytics
Organizations must leverage Zero Trust Identity to deliver real-time analytics on all access attempts & behaviors. This can help you identify anomalies and threats quickly and mitigate them before they cause any damage.
Unlike traditional perimeter security tools, which focus on the network layer, Identity-based Zero Trust enables access to be controlled at the user and asset levels. This helps reduce complexity, saves time and resources for IT, and allows you to scale access as needed during peak periods safely. Successful Zero Trust projects start by casting the net wide enough to tackle identity sprawl and shifting your mindset toward continuous verification. They also require a robust infrastructure supporting Zero Trust principles without ripping out existing systems.
Limit Access to Third-Party Applications
A key component of Zero Trust security is limiting access to third-party applications. This approach enables organizations to prevent using unauthorized third-party systems that could compromise sensitive data or system resources. Achieving a frictionless Zero Trust access strategy requires that identity policies account for the diversity of workloads, users and devices across multiple environments.
Zero Trust Identity allows organizations to control access to systems and resources with the least privilege. This helps keep data secure and prevents damage from breaches. The ability to automatically grant access to the right users at the right time with the right tools and policies is key to a successful security strategy.