Benefits and Challenges of Zero Trust Security Model

The Cybersecurity threat landscape has evolved so rapidly that it has become difficult to trust anyone in your network infrastructure. Whom can you trust inside your IT infrastructure? In a Zero Trust paradigm, the answer is no. This trust model is based on network access control. It means that access to a network or device should only be granted after users’ verification and to the extent required to perform a task.

In this article, we’ll have explored the benefits and risks associated with the zero-trust security model. Let’s get started.

Zero Trust Model in a nutshell

Zero Trust is a security model in which access is granted to only verified and authenticated users. It provides an ultra-safe defense against potential threats by the user, devices, and network access control. Unlike traditional security models, it does not assume that people within an organization are safe. Instead, it requires every user to be authorized before granting any access. Zero Trust security model is generally based on a three-step process.

  1. Verify a user’s identity via authentication
  2. Implement device and network access control
  3. Limit privileged access.

This model promotes the concept that organizations must not trust individuals/entities outside or inside their network perimeters.

Zero Trust Use Cases

The Zero Trust model has increasingly been formalized as a response to secure digital transformation and a variety of complex, devastating threats seen in past years. Organizations can benefit from the Zero Trust security model.

You are required to secure an infrastructure deployment model, including

  • Hybrid, multi-cloud multi-identity
  • Legacy systems
  • Unmanaged devices
  • Software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications

It is required to address key threats use cases including:

  • Supply chain attacks: generally involve privileged users working remotely and unmanaged devices.
  • Ransomware: a two-part problem including identity compromise and code execution.
  • Insider Threats: extremely challenging while users are working remotely.

Here are some considerations an organization have

  • User experience impact considerations, especially while using multi-factor authentication (MFA).
  • SOC/analyst expertise challenges.
  • Industry or compliance requirements

Each organization has unique challenges because of its business, current security strategy, and digital transformation maturity. Zero Trust can adjust to meet certain requirements if implemented properly and still ensure a return on investment (ROI) on your security strategy.

Benefits of Zero Trust Security Model

Let’s outline the main benefits of the Zero Trust security model.

  • This approach requires you to regulate and classify all network resources. It lets organizations visualize who accesses resources for which reasons and understand what measures need to be implemented to secure resources.
  • Implementing a Zero Trust security model is associated with deploying solutions for continuous monitoring and logging off user activity and asset states. It allows organizations to detect potential threats efficiently and respond to them promptly.
  • This model helps expand security protection across multiple containerized and computing environments, independent of the underlying infrastructure.
  • It prevents data breaches and has lateral movements using application micro-segmentation.
  • A zero trust model ensures organizational security while providing a consistent user experience.

Common Technical Challenges

Here are the most common technical challenges faced by users/organizations while implementing a Zero Trust security model.

Network Trust and Malware

Organizations need to ensure that each device and user can safely connect to the internet regardless of the location, without the complexity associated with the legacy techniques. Moreover, they need to proactively detect, block, and reduce the targeted threats, such as phishing, malware, ransomware, advanced zero-day attacks, and DNS data exfiltration. The Zero Trust security model can improve the security posture of your organization while reducing the risk of cyberattacks.

IT Resources and Complexity

Security and enterprise access are complex and change continuously. Traditional enterprise technologies are complex, and making changes to them often takes time using valuable resources. A Zero Trust security model can reduce the time and architectural complexity.

Secure Data and Application Access

Conventional access tools and technologies like VPN rely on trust principles resulting in compromised user credentials that can lead to data breaches. Organizations need to reconsider their access model and technologies to ensure their business is secure while enabling simple and fast access for all users. Zero Trust security model reduces the complexity and risk while providing a consistent and efficient user experience.

Final Words

In this article, we have discussed some of the benefits and challenges of the Zero Trust model. The benefits of implementing this framework go far beyond security. But there are still some risks and challenges associated with this approach. Changes in the threat landscape might encourage organizations to invest in a Zero Trust security model for network access control and identity management. These organizations should be aware of all the challenges and risks that come with this security model.

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