Zero Trust is a relatively new security framework that ensures everyone both inside and outside of an organization is authorized before any interaction with network applications or data occurs. Coined by John Kindervag, Forrester Research analyst, Zero Trust reminds businesses to “trust no one and always verify.”
The Journey to Zero Trust
At the turn of the millennium, cybersecurity was all about securing software, data, and applications within a corporate firewall. The assumption was that everything that happened inside an organization was safe, and as long as threats remained outside the firewall, all was well.
As more companies began moving toward remote employees, cloud infrastructure, and a hybrid workforce, those physical boundaries vanished, leaving company networks more vulnerable to cybercriminals. At the same time, bad actors have refined their skills, creating sophisticated schemes to take advantage of common and not-so-common security vulnerabilities.
Cybersecurity as an industry has exploded. As a result, vendors have introduced new solutions and there is a high demand for trained experts in the field. Zero Trust has become the new mantra for many and industry associations have stepped up to define standards and expected protocols.
NIST 800-207 Standards
NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) 800-207 is a series of cybersecurity measures and guidelines highlighting the core components of Zero Trust principles. The NIST 800-207 standards are generally accepted as a comprehensive, vendor-neutral framework for any organization. It adapts principles from other industry associations and ensures compatibility and protection for a cloud-based, hybrid workforce. Because the federal government has mandated adherence to NIST 800-207, these standards have been heavily scrutinized by a wide range of government agencies as well as commercial businesses.
NIST 800-207 guidelines require:
- Continuous verification. Organizations must always verify access all the time and for all resources.
- Blast radius limitations. If a breach does occur, organizations should minimize its impact.
- Context collection and response. Systems should automatically incorporate behavioral data and collect context from the tech stack including identity, endpoint, and workload information, before responding.
Zero Trust Virtual Desktop White Paper
Implementing Zero Trust
In order for organizations to successfully implement the Zero Trust concept, they must address two key components: infrastructure technology and employee mindset. Both are equally important in helping businesses secure today’s cloud-based, work-from-anywhere environments.
Advanced technologies are needed to build a Zero Trust framework and typically include multi-factor authentication (MFA) and identity protection for each and every employee, contractor, or user of a system. Next-generation endpoint security must check every request for access to and interaction with software, data, or applications, ensuring that privileges are required at that moment.
Robust cloud workload technology must verify the identity of a user and be able to determine appropriate access. Data must be encrypted for secure communications through email or other tools, and all endpoint devices must be free of threats before connecting to any applications or operating systems. This entire system then needs to be maintained and updated on a continuous basis as users, privileges, and threats are always changing.
With four-fifths of all cyberattacks related to credential vulnerabilities or network misuse, companies must have sophisticated protection in these areas. Comprehensive analytics should include artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies that can process trillions of bits of data to identify vulnerabilities and network threats.
The human element of Zero Trust is often overlooked, yet it is just as important, or perhaps even more critical, to a successful implementation of the Zero Trust methodology.
Every single employee, contractor, or other user who interacts with your system must understand and adhere to Zero Trust policies. By shifting the mindset of the individuals working on a system, a company can build another critical layer of protection–adding far-reaching human intelligence and diligence to the security infrastructure.
Ongoing training for employees and other users can educate them on common threats to avoid, such as phishing attempts through email messages, and also arm them with skills to identify and report suspicious activity. Cybercriminals often rely on uninformed individuals to provide access to a system through links and downloads; in fact, more than 80 percent of breaches begin with a human error.
Instilling a Zero Trust mindset by explaining these vulnerabilities and ongoing training about the practices and protocols that will protect not only the individual devices but also the organization as a whole can go a long way to tightening cybersecurity. Adding cyber hygiene metrics to individual performance reviews can also highlight its importance.
Benefits of Zero Trust
Even taking basic steps can improve a company’s security posture; the important thing is to begin the journey. Once Zero Trust architecture has been fully implemented, you can expect the following benefits for your organization:
Stronger Security Posture: Since Zero Trust is incredibly detail-focused, it forces organizations to tighten their security infrastructure and boost visibility into what is going on in real-time. Through organizing and categorizing IT assets, companies gain a better understanding of their environments and access activity, and can better protect assets more completely.
Faster Threat Identification and Isolation: Once additional technology, tools, and training have been implemented, organizations will be more easily able to identify suspicious activity and isolate those threats quickly. Employees trained in understanding vulnerabilities and threats may help decrease the chances that a bad actor can move within a network easily or undetected. Users will also be less likely to be the weak link that allows cybercriminals to use their ignorance to initiate ransomware or other breaches.
Zero Trust Virtual Desktops by Apporto
Built specifically to meet the modern security challenges of today’s remote work environment, Apporto’s next-generation virtual desktops are designed with Zero Trust as a core architectural principle.
Since Apporto is always delivered in the browser, the security posture of the endpoint device is not a concern. All communications between the end-user and the servers use HTML events and messages and data always resides in the cloud where it is least vulnerable. Users can perform all their critical tasks, including sound video and conferencing, in the virtual environment; ensuring that all traffic goes through the corporate security stack.
The potential for attack by bad actors is further reduced by Apporto’s implementation of a central Zero Trust tenet: Least Privilege Access. Users are automatically provided access to only the apps, data and network resources they need based on group affiliation. This prevents unauthorized access and lateral movement.
Ready to take your security posture to the next level with Apporto’s Zero Trust virtual desktops? Contact us today to see our solution in action.