Zero Trust is a modern security model founded on the design principle “Never trust, always verify.”
It requires all devices and users to be authenticated, authorized, and regularly validated before being granted access, regardless of whether they are inside or outside an organization's network.
In short, Zero Trust says “Don’t trust anyone until they’ve been verified.”
Zero Trust helps prevent security breaches by eliminating the implicit trust from your system’s architecture. Instead of automatically trusting users inside the network, Zero Trust requires validation at every access point. It protects modern network environments using a multi-layered approach, including:
- Network segmentation
- Layer 7 threat prevention
- Simplified granular user-access control
- Comprehensive security monitoring
- Security system automation
With the rise of remote work, bring your own device (BYOD), and cloud-based assets that aren’t located within an enterprise-owned network boundary, traditional perimeter security falls short. That’s where Zero Trust comes in.
In essence, Zero Trust security acknowledges that threats exist inside and outside of the network and assumes that a breach is inevitable (or has likely already occurred). As a result, it constantly monitors for malicious activity and limits user access to only what is required to do the job. This effectively prevents users (including potential bad actors) from moving laterally through the network and accessing any data that hasn’t been limited.
What Is Zero Trust?
If a relationship between two people devolves to the point of zero trust, it may be time to move on, or at least buy a safe. In the world of information technology and security, a zero-trust relationship is more complicated and the negative consequences could be far more damaging.
From an IT security architecture perspective, the essence of zero trust assumes that no user or asset can be implicitly trusted. ZTA assumes that attackers are already inside your environment and pillaging at will.
Everything any user, application, or device attempts to do or change within a ZTA environment must be continually verified as authentic and authorized for execution.
Zero Trust was coined by a Forrester analyst in 2010, and Google moved the term along during the next few years to enable protected computing by remote workers without using a virtual private network (VPN). The framework was codified in 2018 when NIST issued Special Publication 800-207, Zero Trust Architecture. Core components were updated by NIST in 2020.
Forrester and Gartner continued evolving their ZTA models, and in 2021, Microsoft’s Zero Trust Adoption Report documented major traction by 96 percent of 1,200 security decision-makers who stated that zero trust was critical to their organization’s success.
Adopting a Zero Trust Architecture
As an architecture focused on trust, it’s not surprising that the original concept of ZTA was grounded in identity and access management (IAM).
Gartner defines IAM as “multiple technologies and business processes to help the right people or machines to access the right assets at the right time for the right reasons while keeping unauthorized access and fraud at bay.”
On the surface, Gartner’s definition almost sounds like ZTA. The intent is identical, without a doubt. But doubt we must, for ZTA entails a far broader range of integrated controls required to enable a trusted ecosystem. Since concepts related to ZTA emerged thirteen years ago, analysts, security architects, standards organizations, security and IT suppliers, and enterprise security practitioners have pondered, researched, developed, trialed, and road-tested what a ZTA ecosystem entails. The conclusion: ZTA extends far beyond only IAM.
The Qualys GovCloud Platform is the most advanced security platform for federal, state, and local agencies, as well as regulated private sector firms that need highly secure zero-trust hybrid IT infrastructures that comply with the Zero Trust Security Model and broader mandates for guidelines in NIST Special Publication 800-53 v5.
The Qualys platform is built with the world’s most comprehensive Vulnerability Management (VM) capabilities, including its own asset inventory, threat database, and attack surface management. The apps required for ZTA compliance are delivered via one platform, managed with one dashboard, and deployed with a single agent.
By using the Qualys Cloud Platform, organizations can simplify and achieve compliance across a broad range of ZTA requirements with integrated security and compliance solutions, one centralized control center, and a single agent.
Whether your organization is a federal agency, supplier, or civilian enterprise, we encourage you to learn more about the Qualys Cloud Platform and how it can help your organization comply with national policy for cybersecurity by effectively implementing a zero-trust architecture and model.