Banner image with the text “What is Zero Trust?” and abstract illustrations of network security
Zero Trust Security

What Is zero trust security? (Without the Marketing BS)

Published July 18, 2022 by Nicholas DiCola

Zero Trust is a security model that requires organizations to verify the identity of users and devices before granting them network access. For example, before machine A can communicate with machine B over port X, a third system needs to approve the connection after verifying that it is legitimate, and only then will port X be opened for machine A (and crucially, ONLY machine A) to communicate with machine B.

This is Zero Trust security. Everything else you hear (especially from security vendors trying to sell you their product) is just BS.

Despite the myths fueled by marketing teams and self-proclaimed inventors, this concept was first invented by a military organization in what was called the “Black Core Network Initiative.” ‘Black’ is a DoD term that refers to the fact that if the infrastructure cannot even be seen then it cannot be attacked.

If you require verification before opening EVERY port for EVERY single connection between EVERY machine in your network, you have achieved a true Zero Trust model. At this point, it is game over for attackers.

Why does your organization need zero trust?

Breaches are increasingly common, and more damaging than ever. Zero Trust networking is a game changer that gives security teams the upper hand. If attackers cannot even see targets because all the communication ports are closed, they are completely stuck.

The Zero Trust framework is the gold standard for network security and is used by the world’s leading technology companies. For example, Google, where all connections in its internal network are closed until it’s necessary for them to be open. Users must go through MFA (Multi Factor Authentication) before getting network access to any internal application or server. At any given time, there are very few connections open, which virtually eliminates the attack surface.

In fact, this is exactly what Zero Networks automates, essentially providing a Google-worthy network security stack, and zero trust architecture, in a matter of minutes as a service for our customers.

Zero trust principles

The five zero trust principles are:

Five zero trust principles.

Challenges with zero trust

A big challenge can be finding a vendor who provides true Zero Trust networking. A lot of security vendors will claim to give you some form of zero trust network access, but many of them are just using the words “Zero” and “Trust” in their marketing materials. Out of the hundreds of vendors out there that claim to provide real Zero Trust, very few actually do.

Of those that do provide Zero Trust Networking, there are two main models: ZTNA (which provides you with Zero Trust from the outside), and Microsegmentation (which provides you with Zero Trust from the inside, e.g., between machines within your network). To achieve real Zero Trust segmentation, organizations must combine these two solutions.

You can read about the challenges related to microsegmentation here. ZTNA, since it’s similar to reverse proxy technology that sits in the vendor’s cloud, comes with its own set of challenges:

  1. Going through the vendor’s cloud usually means more latency and less bandwidth = bad user experience.
  2. Cloud networking is expensive. Guess who is going to pay for that? (hint: not the vendor)
  3. Having reverse proxy obfuscates all the user traffic through a single entity. Various detection solutions break down in that scenario.

The amount of work needed to combine these two models, and have them well-coordinated and working together, is also an enormous challenge.

Zero Networks’ Solution

Zero Networks offers an innovative combination of microsegmentation and ZTNA (with the addition of automation and self service). Zero Networks solves all the pain points of each of these solutions with a single holistic solution.

To sum up how Zero Networks achieves this:

  1. We automatically microsegment every asset in the organization. That way no ports are left open unless they’re needed. And even when they are needed, they are only opened if it’s not risky.
  2. We apply MFA-based restrictions against the privileged protocols that attackers love to use (risky).
  3. We make sure that normal, non-admin usage is uninterrupted.

About Zero Networks

Microsegmentation means that every module in the environment should only be able to access the information and resources necessary for legitimate purposes.

Great idea – in theory – that few organizations practice. Sadly, past efforts at microsegmentation required cumbersome agents, hair pinning, or expensive professional services.

Zero Networks, instead, found a new paradigm that proves that microsegmentation can be fast, easy, effective, and deployable by anyone to get military grade security.

Reduce the risk of breaches to almost zero with Zero Networks’ MFA-based microsegmentation solution. Request a demo.

Additional Resources

  1. Microsoft – Zero Trust Overview
  2. National Security Agency – Embracing a Zero Trust Security Model