What is a zero trust strategy?

A zero trust strategy is a security approach that is based on the zero trust security model. This model assumes that attackers have already breached an organization’s network perimeter defenses and, as a result, does not automatically trust any user or device that is inside the perimeter. Instead, a zero trust strategy requires all users and devices to be authenticated and authorized before they are allowed to access resources on the network.

The goal of a zero trust strategy is to reduce the attack surface of an organization and make it more difficult for attackers to move laterally within the network. This is typically achieved through a combination of authentication and access control technologies, network segmentation and micro-segmentation, security analytics and threat detection. By implementing a zero trust strategy, organizations can establish a strong security posture and protect their networks and data from attackers.

Why is a zero trust security strategy important?

A zero trust security strategy is important for several reasons:

  • It helps to reduce the risk of data breaches and other security incidents: By assuming that any user, device, or network inside or outside of an organization’s perimeter can potentially be compromised, a zero trust strategy helps to reduce the risk of data breaches and other security incidents by carefully verifying and restricting access to resources.
  • It protects against insider threats: This includes employees who may accidentally or intentionally compromise the organization’s data.
  • It adapts to changes in the threat landscape: A zero trust strategy is designed to be flexible and adapt to changes in the threat landscape. As new threats emerge, the organization can update its policies and controls to continue to protect its resources.
  • It enables remote work: With the widespread adoption of remote work, it is increasingly important to have a security strategy that is designed to protect against threats that may come from outside the organization’s perimeter. A zero trust strategy can help to secure remote access to the organization’s resources.

Learn more in our detailed guide to zero trust security.

How to build a zero trust strategy

Here are the steps to build a zero trust strategy:

1. Identify devices and users

The first step in building a zero trust strategy is to identify all the devices and users that need access to the organization’s resources. This may include employees, contractors, partners, and customers. It is important to have a clear understanding of who needs access to what resources and under what circumstances.

2. Set up microsegmentation and access controls 

Once the users and devices have been identified, the next step is to set up microsegmentation and access controls to ensure that only authorized devices and users have access to the organization’s resources. 

Microsegmentation involves breaking the organization’s network into smaller, isolated segments, which helps to reduce the risk of a data breach. By segmenting the network, it is possible to better control access to specific resources or areas of the network.

Access controls are policies that determine who has access to what resources and under what circumstances. By implementing access controls, it is possible to ensure that only authorized devices and users have access to the organization’s resources. Access controls can be based on a variety of factors, including the user’s role, the device’s location, and the sensitivity of the resources being accessed.

3. Deploy continuous monitoring and alerts

To effectively implement a zero trust strategy, it is important to continuously monitor the organization’s network and systems for unusual activity or potential threats. This may involve using security tools such as intrusion detection and prevention systems, as well as implementing processes for responding to potential threats. 

It is also important to set up alerts to notify the appropriate personnel when unusual activity or potential threats are detected. There are a variety of tools that can be used for network monitoring and alerting, including:

  • Intrusion detection and prevention systems (IDPS): Monitor the organization’s network for unusual activity or potential threats and alert the appropriate personnel when they are detected.
  • Network analytics tools: Allow the organization to monitor and analyze network traffic in real-time, looking for patterns or anomalies that could indicate a potential threat.
  • Security information and event management (SIEM) systems: Collect and analyze data from various sources, such as IDPS, firewalls, and other security tools, to provide a comprehensive view of the organization’s security posture. They can also be configured to generate alerts when potential threats are detected.

4. Expand the strategy with zero trust use cases

To expand the zero trust security strategy, follow these steps:

  • Identify the business objectives: This will help to focus the use case collection and prioritization process on the most important areas of the business. For example, some users might only require internet access and a VPN connection, while others may prefer a more sophisticated system like BeyondCorp.
  • Identify potential use cases: Once the business objectives have been identified, the next step is to identify potential use cases for expanding the zero trust security strategy. This may involve working with different teams or departments within the organization to gather information about the resources they need access to and the threats they face.
  • Evaluate the potential use cases: The identified use cases should be evaluated in terms of their impact on the business, their feasibility, and the resources required to implement them. 
  • Prioritize the use cases: Based on the results of the evaluation process, the use cases should be prioritized in terms of their importance to the business. This will help to ensure that the organization is focusing its resources on the use cases that will have the greatest impact.

Zero trust security strategies with Solo

Solo.io’s Gloo Mesh and Gloo Gateway can help you secure your APIs by enhancing open source Istio and Envoy Proxy. By default, basic open source distributions of Istio and Envoy don’t go far enough to deliver features needed for comprehensive security. Encryption alone isn’t enough, and if you use pure open source you inherit the burden of developing and maintaining missing security features forever.

Solo adds comprehensive security controls to your service mesh and API gateways, giving you the capabilities you need and confidence that your environment is as secure as possible.

Learn more about zero trust using Gloo Mesh and Gloo Gateway.