How to Implement Zero Trust Security in the Cloud?

Jun 16, 2022
4 min read

In a world where network surveillance is practically unavoidable, we have difficulty deciding who to trust. Zero trust is a security concept for cloud and mobile enterprises that states that no user or application should be trusted by default. Instead, trust is created depending on context (e.g., user identification and location, the endpoint's security posture, the app or service being requested) with policy checks at each stage, following the Zero Trust concept of least-privileged access.

The IT sector has traditionally depended on perimeter security techniques to safeguard its most precious resources, such as user data and intellectual property. These security measures included firewalls and other network-based technologies to examine and validate network users as they entered and exited the network. However, digital transformation and the shift to hybrid cloud infrastructure alter how businesses operate. As a result, the network perimeter is no longer sufficient. So let's delve into this newer concept of Zero Trust security in the cloud and how we can implement it.

What is Zero Trust Security?

Zero Trust is an IT security approach that does away with the concept of trust to safeguard networks, applications, and data. This is in sharp contrast to the traditional perimeter security paradigm, which assumes that malicious elements are always on the least trusted side of the network and that reliable users are always on the trusted side. These assumptions are eliminated by Zero Trust, which assumes that all users are untrustworthy.

Zero trust security, a cloud-based concept for a new framework, secures access to IT resources for users and devices in ways that perimeter-based security cannot. It is also a more deliberate approach to infrastructure security for three key reasons:

•  It verifies every access transaction between people, devices, and networks.

•  Users are only given access to what they require.

•  The exclusive access transaction is watched and documented to maintain compliance and security.

This strategy ensures that only authorized users are provided access to resources via secure devices and secure connections. In this section, we will understand the critical components of zero trust security and how it secures cloud-based IT infrastructures.

Essential Components of a Zero Trust Model

A zero trust architecture, developed by John Kindervag in 2010 while working as a principal analyst at Forrester Research, is a comprehensive framework that effectively protects an organization's most important assets. It operates on the assumption that every connection and endpoint is a danger. As a result, the structure defends against various risks, whether external or internal and even for internal connections. In a nutshell, a zero-trust network is as follows.

Five critical statements underpin the zero-trust network:

a)  It is usually presumed that the network is hostile.

b)  External and internal risks are always present in the network.

c)  Network location is insufficient for determining network trust.

d)  Every device, user, and network flow is verified and approved.

e)  Policies must be dynamic and calculated using as many data sources as feasible.

Stages of Implementing Zero Trust in the Cloud

1.  Determine the types of apps (public, private, SaaS, etc.) and data (confidential, sensitive, insignificant) your firm has, where they are, and who has access to and uses them. Then, establish your security surface, including the data, applications, assets, and services most important to your organization.

2.  Illustrate the business processes (i.e., how your applications work).

3.  Create barriers between users and apps by architecting the new cloud architecture.

4.  Create Zero Trust policies for your firm based on who should have access to what and implement contextual access controls based on least-privilege principles. Educate users about your company's security standards and expectations while accessing and utilizing your company's cloud-based apps and data.

5.  Maintain and monitor your Zero Trust environment. This entails constantly examining and logging every communication to detect anomalous conduct and determine how to make rules more secure. With active monitoring, your protected surface may expand, allowing you to modify the architecture to improve your security even more.

Benefits of Zero Trust Security in the Cloud

Cybercriminals seeking to steal, damage, or ransom business-critical and sensitive data, such as personally identifiable information (PII), intellectual property (IP), and financial information, may find today's cloud systems appealing targets. While no security policy is flawless, and data breaches will never be eliminated, zero trust is one of the most effective solutions. Zero trust lowers the attack surface and lessens the effect and severity of assaults, lowering the time and expense of reacting to and cleaning up after a breach.

A Zero Trust security approach is also the most effective cloud security method. Given the amount of cloud, endpoint, and data sprawl in today's IT settings, the ability to not trust any connection without sufficient verification is critical. Plus, the boost in visibility will help immensely for IT and security, starting from the administrative level and going all the way up to the CISO. Furthermore, establishing zero trust security via cloud-based architecture is more cost-effective and adaptable for enterprises of any size or type. IT departments may enjoy greater security without losing the convenience of use by eliminating the related upkeep of on-premises hardware and multiple integrations.

Tips to Enhance Zero Trust Security in the Cloud

To make it easier to maintain Zero Trust in the cloud, follow these tips:

To deploy Zero Trust in the cloud, use cloud-delivered security mechanisms. Give users a safe, consistent, and seamless experience regardless of where they are, how they want to connect, or which software they want to use. Otherwise, they will reject it if the user experience is too complex or demands too much modification every time they work from a different location or use a different programme.

Limiting user access based on context reduces the attack surface area. Micro-segmentation is a critical component of zero trust and least privilege. Additionally, it enables the creation of various security zones, the establishment of granular security and access control policies, and the isolation of specific workloads. This limits the attack surface and makes it more difficult for hackers or hostile insiders to move laterally across the network to access critical systems and data.

Conclusion

Businesses may expand safely in the cloud and adapt to borderless and scattered settings using Zero Trust security ideas. In addition, zero trust decreases the attack surface. It reduces the adverse impact and intensity of cyberattacks, reducing the time and expense of reacting to and cleaning up after a breach. The most effective method of cloud security is a zero-trust security architecture.