Describe the Zero Trust model


Zero Trust assumes everything is on an open and untrusted network, even resources behind the firewalls of the corporate network. The Zero Trust model operates on the principle of “trust no one, verify everything.

Attackers’ ability to bypass conventional access controls is ending any illusion that traditional security strategies are sufficient. By no longer trusting the integrity of the corporate network, security is strengthened.

In practice, this means that we no longer assume that a password is sufficient to validate a user but add multi-factor authentication to provide additional checks. Instead of granting access to all devices on the corporate network, users are allowed access only to the specific applications or data that they need.

This video introduces the Zero Trust methodology:

Zero Trust guiding principles

The Zero Trust model has three principles which guide and underpin how security is implemented. These are: verify explicitly, least privilege access, and assume breach.

  • Verify explicitly. Always authenticate and authorize based on the available data points, including user identity, location, device, service or workload, data classification, and anomalies.
  • Least privileged access. Limit user access with just-in-time and just-enough access (JIT/JEA), risk-based adaptive policies, and data protection to protect both data and productivity.
  • Assume breach. Segment access by network, user, devices, and application. Use encryption to protect data, and use analytics to get visibility, detect threats, and improve your security.

Six foundational pillars

In the Zero Trust model, all elements work together to provide end-to-end security. These six elements are the foundational pillars of the Zero Trust model:

  • Identities may be users, services, or devices. When an identity attempts to access a resource, it must be verified with strong authentication, and follow least privilege access principles.
  • Devices create a large attack surface as data flows from devices to on-premises workloads and the cloud. Monitoring devices for health and compliance is an important aspect of security.
  • Applications are the way that data is consumed. This includes discovering all applications being used, sometimes called Shadow IT because not all applications are managed centrally. This pillar also includes managing permissions and access.
  • Data should be classified, labeled, and encrypted based on its attributes. Security efforts are ultimately about protecting data, and ensuring it remains safe when it leaves devices, applications, infrastructure, and networks that the organization controls.
  • Infrastructure, whether on-premises or cloud based, represents a threat vector. To improve security, you assess for version, configuration, and JIT access, and use telemetry to detect attacks and anomalies. This allows you to automatically block or flag risky behavior and take protective actions.
  • Networks should be segmented, including deeper in-network micro segmentation. Also, real-time threat protection, end-to-end encryption, monitoring, and analytics should be employed.

Diagram showing the Zero Trust model.

A security strategy that employs the three principles of the Zero Trust model across the six foundational pillars helps companies deliver and enforce security across their organization.