Zero-Trust Security: What It Is and Why You Need It

June 28

The prevalence of distributed teams and the influx of IoT devices into organizational networks require continuous verification of all users and devices as they use applications and access data.

A zero-trust access approach is necessary for network administrators to protect networks and applications. A robust access control technology is needed to monitor networks and applications that require highly guarded access controls.

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What Is Zero Trust Security?

A zero-trust security system requires that every device accessing a private network, whether physically or logically within the network perimeter, must go through rigorous identity verification.

Security for IT networks is traditionally based upon the fence and gate concept. Perimeter security makes it hard to access the network from outside while assuming that anyone inside the network can be trusted. Thus, once an attacker has gained access to the network, they have free reign.

As a result, perimeter security systems are vulnerable because organizations no longer store their data in a centralized location. It’s a challenge to secure an entire network with a single security control because the information is often spread across multiple cloud vendors. Nobody has default trust in a zero-trust network, not from inside the organization or from outside. Everyone must confirm their rights to access network resources.

The Main Principles of a Zero Trust Network

A practical zero trust security approach incorporates a variety of best practices and technologies. These can be summarized as follows:

Least-privilege access
A general would give soldiers the necessary information but only to the extent that they needed to know. This reduces the risk of each user being exposed to sensitive information on the network.

Micro-segmentation is another zero-trust network principle. A micro-segmentation system allows for separate access to different areas of a network by breaking up the perimeter of security into small zones.

A data center with files in it could, for instance, utilize micro-segmentation, creating many separate zones. People or programs that have access to one of these zones won’t gain access to the other zones unless authorization is obtained separately.

Data usage control
When someone has access to data, they can use it however they want. Implementing data usage controls limits what they can do with the data once they get it. Among these measures is removing permissions to save data to USB disks, email, or cloud apps.

Keep on reading: The Top 10 Vulnerabilities in IoT Devices

Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA) Use Cases

Among the critical applications of the zero-trust network include:

VPN alternative
According to Gartner, 60% of enterprises plan to phase out most of their remote access VPNs in favor of ZTNA by 2023 because VPNs are slow, offer poor security, and are difficult to manage. A zero-trust network architecture resolves the shortcoming of VPNs.

It takes more time for the IT department to implement ZTNA, but the increase in control and decrease in vulnerabilities are worth it.

Secure multi-cloud access
Companies are increasingly adopting the cloud, and 37% intend to use ZTNA to safeguard their multi-cloud strategies. It allows IT departments to create a fast and secure connection to all computer resources within a company. ZTNA enables secure, close-range access to distributed workgroups, replacing traditional, network-centric security perimeters.

Reduced third-party risk
There are security gaps created by third-party access to enterprise systems, typically granted to third parties. By ensuring that only authorized users can access the network and the applications, ZTNA significantly reduces the risks that third parties could access sensitive data.

Accelerated M&A integration
Integrating traditional M&As can take multiple years because of the overlapping IPs and networks that organizations must converge. Through ZTNA, a successful merger and acquisition can be made less time-consuming and easier to manage, providing immediate value to your business.

Read more: All You Need to Know About Ransomware and Ways to Prevent It

Considerations for ZTNA

An organization should consider several things when deciding on the ZTNA solution:

Are there any requirements for installing an endpoint agent? Which operating systems are supported? Unless ZTNA technologies support clientless technologies, they may not be able to provide third-party user access and BYOD capabilities.

Can the trust broker remain associated with the data path after the device or user passes authentication?

Gartner recommends ZTNA service providers for enterprises because they are easier to deploy, more accessible, and better equipped to protect users from DDoS attacks.

How does partial or complete cloaking or the ability to allow or block inbound connections affect the security requirements of isolated applications?

What are the authentication standards that the trust broker supports? Is there an option for integrating into a cloud-based or local directory identity service?


VPNs, firewalls, and other perimeter security measures will not be replaced overnight by ZTNA services. But in time, and as new security models go live, organizations will begin to focus on ZTNA, identity, and access management solutions over the “castle-and-moat” approach to network security.

Johannes Beekman

About the author

After 25 years in engineering, Johannes Beekman founded IoT Marketing with the goal of helping companies bring wide-scale awareness to their inventions. He received a Master of Science in Physics degree from the Eindhoven University of Technology, and a Master in Business Administration degree from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, and started his career in the semiconductor field. Johannes pioneered two successful wafer fab startups for Philips Electronics; one in Europe and the second one in Asia. And served as Senior Program Manager for Sematech, where he provided solutions for semiconductor industry-wide product improvement and cost reduction challenges. Johannes has also published articles on several trade-focused websites.


cybersecurity, IoT Security, zero trust network access

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