Protecting Assets and Managing Threats through a Zero Trust Approach

Man being required to sign-in to his computer

Zero trust security is important for shielding the business’s digital ecosystems from malicious attacks and threats from unverified users. Strongly based on the principle of “never trust, always verify”, this approach has protected millions of businesses around the world from potential breaches that often happen within their own network.

The traditional trust approach works on the assumption that all users within the network can be trusted, and can acquire all the information they are able to access. The zero trust model works the opposite way—it aims to eliminate trust so as not to make your systems vulnerable as threat actors and attackers can also be categorized as “users”.

For 2019’s Ascent Conference, we invited Neal Conlon, former head of sales and marketing at Appguard Inc., for a session on how companies can achieve zero trust and how they can strengthen their security infrastructure to keep up with emerging cybersecurity threats. 

The Zero Trust Model for Reinforcing Your Security Stack

The zero trust model involves identifying a “protect surface” first. Security solutions company Palo Alto Networks defines a protect surface as something that is composed of DAAS—data, assets, applications, and services. The DAAS is something that varies in every organization and is relatively smaller in size, so it’s easier to determine the scope of what needs utmost protection. Once the protect surface has been identified, the next step is to go deeper into user behavior and build a perimeter around your protect surface to ensure that everything in your database is secure and not accessible to illegitimate users.

In his talk, Neal discussed the 3 things that often happen once an attacker crosses over to the area between your userspace and system:

  • Harvest credentials they can use against you
  • Encrypt your machine and infect it with ransomware
  • Exfiltrate data or in some instances, complete a payment sequence

As businesses undergo rapid digital transformation, Neal advises CISOs and cyberleaders to not stray away from the fundamentals, like using two-factor authentication to verify your users’ identities. Here are more strategies that Neal shared to help businesses establish a zero trust framework:

  • It pays to have security skepticism—this helps you establish boundaries and establish accountability. 
  • Apply a detect-and-respond approach.
  • Align your ownership of controls and vault integrity with your compliance framework so that it creates a layer of security, both from a human and technical perspective.
  • A human challenge we need to solve is the inherent bias called trust that trickles down to the technologies we build. When your technology solution has that bias tied to it, someone can breach it and get through the minute they figure out what your bias is. 

Building a Zero Trust Environment in Today’s World

A zero trust model is essential in gaining visibility and monitoring the traffic across your systems, including users, devices, and applications. It also enables you to calculate the risks and enforce additional policies where and when needed.

Watch Neal’s full session in the video below:

[su_youtube url=”” title=”Is Zero Trust Achievable?”]

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