Achieving Zero Trust Security

What is Zero Trust?

Zero Trust is an approach to cybersecurity that follows the core principle of trusting no user or device accessing a system or network. The term was first coined in 2004 by a Forrester Research analyst, John Kindervag, who offered its underlying framework: “never trust, always verify.” As opposed to traditional security, which assumes trust, a Zero Trust architecture is based on context established through strict authentication policies and least-privileged access controls.  

How Does Zero Trust work?

Traditional Security

The status quo cybersecurity model that’s been used since its development in the 1990s is network security based on a secure network perimeter and a centralized data center. This type of architecture relies on approved IP addresses and ports to establish access and validate what and who is trusted. In short, this security framework validates based on where a user’s request is coming from.

Zero Trust Security

The Zero Trust approach simply assumes that everything, including all network traffic even inside the perimeter, is hostile by default. In stark contrast to the traditional security approach, Zero Trust does not prioritize network location as the biggest factor. Instead, all your data, applications, workflows, and services are protected by software-defined micro-segmentation. This allows you to keep them secure anywhere, whether that’s in an on-premises data center, in the cloud, or in a hybrid environment.  

The 2 Fundamental Changes

1. Implicit – and sometimes excessive – trust is eliminated by removing network location as a position of advantage and replaced with explicit identity-based trust. 

2. Network micro-segmentation adds a layer of security by compiling granular layers of information to understand the device, the user, and the behavior.

The 1st Step to Zero Trust:
Securing Identity  

Zero Trust is a journey – not a final destination. According to Forrester Research, it takes on average 2-3 years for SMBs to fully implement a Zero Trust architecture. As of 2022, less than 25% of SMBs have put Zero Trust in place.

On that journey, the first step is critical: establish strong identity-based validation protocols, as Zero Trust security fundamentally operates by verifying “who you are,” not where the request is coming from.  

Want to learn more about accelerating your Zero Trust journey?

4 Ways to Secure Identity

Cohesive Identity and Access Management (IAM) 
The Zero Trust framework is environment-agnostic, assuming that a threat coming from inside the network is just as likely as one coming from outside. A single, unified IAM platform, like PortalGuard, gives administrators or AD controllers full visibility into who or what device is gaining network access and what levels of permission that user needs to complete a task. In short, you cannot build a robust, functional Zero Trust network with strong IAM.

Strong Multi-factor Authentication (MFA) 
Implementing a strong MFA method – beyond just username and password – is crucial for establishing identity trust and mitigating lateral movement attacks, as a single verification will not be valid for more than one session. For a more powerful form of authentication, PortalGuard’s Multi-factor Authentication offers a biometric solution – Identity-Bound Biometrics – that verifies the actual identity of the user requesting network access.  

Centralized Single Sign-on (SSO) 
Having Single Sign-on in place is instrumental in helping organizations shift away from password-based authentication, which is known to create vulnerabilities for hacks, breaches, and account takeovers. To truly uphold Zero Trust security, PortalGuard’s Single Sign-on is protected by MFA – including the option to use Identity-Bound Biometrics for the highest level of security. Implementing this type of control over your environment’s users and traffic takes you a step closer to establishing Zero Trust. 

Conditional Access 
Implementing conditional access procedures is a critical part of a Zero Trust strategy. Largely driven by the shift to mobile and cloud, conditional access enables IT teams to either validate or deny requests from devices and users with a set of automated policies. Workforces are more remote than ever, and network access outside the perimeter is necessary for the daily operations of many businesses. Adaptive Authentication – a form of MFA supported by PortalGuard – directly supports a key aspect of Zero Trust: gathering and analyzing contextual information to validate legitimacy.  

Common Zero Trust Use Cases

Distributed or Remote Workforce

Operational Technology

Non-employee Identities (contractors, vendors, temporary employees) 

Privileged Access Management

For Government Agencies

In May of 2021, President Joe Biden signed an executive order aiming to migrate all federal agencies to a Zero Trust architecture. Other government agencies like CISA and the NSA have also issued similar guidance on embracing the Zero Trust model. With targets like critical infrastructure to protect from potential attack, it’s imperative that government agencies at every level have the strongest possible cyber defense in place.

Product Recommendations

Identity-Bound Biometrics

See how IBB offers the highest levels of accountability and versatility by establishing trust that is rooted in a person’s biometric identity.

Identity-Bound Biometrics

Multi-factor Authentication

Implement authentication approaches such as adaptive, step-up, passwordless authentication.

Multi-factor Authentication

Single Sign-On

Secure and access all your applications through a single point of strong authentication with a single IdP.

Single Sign-On

Find out what PortalGuard® can do for your business.