5 Steps for Adopting a Zero Trust Model

February 18, 2022
Adopting a zero-trust model in your organization is an essential cybersecurity practice. Yet so many companies are unaware of the pillars of a zero-trust model. In this article, we’re breaking it down for you—what is the zero-trust model, why we recommend it, and how to get started.
 

What is Zero Trust?

Zero trust is a concept that means every organization, by default, should put zero trust in every user, endpoint, device, etc. From internal to external users, mobile devices to laptops, network components to network connections, every endpoint should be considered untrusted until authenticated and authorized.
 
A few important things to keep in mind about zero-trust:
 
  • Zero-trust is a multi-year journey. Zero-trust isn’t simply implemented and then left alone. There is no limit to how far it can be taken, and companies often work to improve and perfect their zero-trust strategy over time.
  • It’s a set of processes, not a single solution. Zero-trust is not solely a technical solution, but rather a collection of processes built on top of strong IT capabilities such as asset management, identity management, and authentication.
  • It’s only successful with tight integration. It’s zero-trust only when all your security signals and enforcement capabilities are working in harmony to enforce your organization’s risk tolerances.
 

Why is zero trust recommended?

Aside from the obvious security benefits, there are several other reasons why it’s a smart choice to adopt zero trust. In the commissioned study The Total Economic Impact™ of Zero Trust solutions from Microsoft, Forrester Consulting reports that adoption of Microsoft solutions to implement a Zero Trust security strategy delivers the following:
  • A three-year 92% return on investment (ROI) with a payback period of fewer than six months
  • A 50% lower chance of a data breach
  • Efficiency gains of 50% or higher across security processes
 

How to Get Started with Zero Trust

Zero trust is a fundamental security concept, but it can also be difficult to understand if you’re just getting started. Zero trust looks different for every organization, so how should you get started with zero trust?

Here are five steps you can take to get closer to building a zero-trust strategy that dramatically improves your organization’s security posture:
 

1. Define your goals

The National Institute of Standards and Technology articulates two main goals of zero-trust:
  • Prevent unauthorized access to data and services
  • Make access control and decisions of access control as granular as possible
These goals should always be kept in mind when establishing zero-trust. But you should also keep in mind the specific goals of your organization and why you want to enhance security.
 

2. Identify what must be protected

Every organization has various types of data and different entry points by which data can be accessed. Make sure you clearly outline both before assessing your zero-trust readiness.
 

3. Assess your zero-trust readiness

Assessing your zero-trust readiness involves evaluating your organization’s network, endpoints, data, and user identity maturity levels. The Microsoft Zero Trust Maturity Assessment Quiz can help you identify these key areas and assess your readiness.
 

4. Build your architecture; define policy and limit access

Once you’ve defined your goals, identified what needs to be protected, and assessed your readiness, you’re ready to build your zero-trust architecture. A zero-trust architecture is the way a business’s network devices and services are structured to enable a zero-trust security model. There is not one single product that can be implemented to achieve zero-trust. It is a set of design principles constituting a framework.
 
All zero-trust networks should follow these main principles:
  • All default access controls should be set to “deny” for all users and devices (everything is always in “untrusted” mode)
  • Use a variety of preventative techniques to authenticate all users and devices every time network access is requested
  • Enable real-time monitoring and controls to identify malicious activity and threats
 

5. Monitor and maintain

As previously stated, continuing to monitor and maintain a safe environment is extremely important when adopting a zero-trust model. Implement systems that can continuously monitor your environment to protect it from malicious attacks and cyber threats.
 
The zero-trust model provides security against all threats simply by trusting no device, endpoint, or user by default. It may sound like a simple concept, but there are a lot of moving parts. As more companies adopt a zero-trust model, it’s becoming more apparent to all organizations that threats exist both in and outside the organization.

Interested in learning more about zero-trust? Or are you ready to adopt a zero-trust model for your business? Get in touch with our security specialists today. We can tell you where you are in your security maturity and help you move to the next level of your security journey.