Technology / Networking

7 Most Popular Zero Trust Practices

7 Popular Zero Trust Practices
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Published on April 6, 2023

Zero Trust security has become the strategy of choice for many IT leaders who are combating surging cyberattacks. In two earlier posts, What is Zero Trust Security? and How Does Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA) Work?, we introduced you to the topic.

In this article, we’ll look at some of the most popular Zero Trust practices being adopted as organizations implement the strategy. We’ll also look at how security certifications, such as Microsoft Security, Compliance, and Identity Fundamentals have adapted to cover the skills and expertise required for Zero Trust security professionals. 

Let’s begin with common Zero Trust security practices.

7 Smart Zero Trust Practices

If an organization decides to use a Zero Trust strategy, it should take time to research best practices. Here is a list of seven Zero Trust practices that can set an organization up for success in the implementation of Zero Trust.

1. Let your business needs drive security priorities

First, assess your security defenses. How do they align with your business activities? How are your high-value assets and high-risk users covered? Have other organizations in your industry suffered a breach? If so, where and how? Conduct your analysis and prioritize areas where you need to introduce Zero Trust controls.

2. Categorize and map data, systems, and users

Locate all your data and systems and categorize them, according to value and degree of sensitivity and risk. Given the widespread use of hybrid cloud, mobile computing, remote workforces, and the Internet of Things (IoT), you must catalog and map all applications, systems, and data repositories wherever they reside. 

Based on each user’s function, you can use role-based access control (RBAC) to manage access to those resources. In Microsoft environments, systems and network administrators will apply role-based access control using the identity and access management (IAM) capabilities that are part of Azure Active Directory. Both RBAC and IAM are fundamental to the operation of a Zero Trust security environment, and they are covered in depth in the Microsoft Security, Compliance, and Identity Fundamentals online security training course and the related SC-900 certification exam, but more on that later. 

3. Isolate sensitive systems in microsegments

In days of old, castles were built with layered defenses with interior strongholds. Even if attackers managed to breach an exterior wall, they would face additional defenses that protected the castle’s treasure. In the same way, a practice of Zero Trust security is to divide the network into microsegments and protect each according to the value it contains. The more sensitive the content, the more stringent and specialized the cybersecurity defenses.

Microsegments, combined with role-based access controls, enable organizations to limit where authorized users are able to go in the network and what they are able to do when they get there. Such controls also help contain and restrict intruders if they breach the network.

4. Implement and maintain stringent authentication and authorization 

Zero Trust security always assumes that a breach attempt is taking place. So, each time users request access to a network microsegment, Zero Trust security mandates their identity be validated and the network resources they’re authorized to access be verified. 

Because traditional password approaches have proven insufficient, Zero Trust implementations frequently couple password mechanisms with two-factor or multi-factor authentication procedures. Once the requesting user has been identified, the role-based access controls (RBAC) can determine which network resources they are allowed to access. 

5. Restrict attack potential with least-privilege access

One of the key tenets of Zero Trust security is to restrict user access to microsegment resources, both in terms of scope and time. Least privilege access means that authenticated users are allowed to access ONLY those resources required and ONLY for the time necessary to fulfill their defined job responsibilities. 

The benefit of least-privilege access is that hackers who manage to breach the network cannot easily access resources beyond the breached user’s credentials or those in other microsegments.

6. Scan continuously for threats, incursion attempts, and security events

Implement a security information and event management (SIEM) system, such as Microsoft’s Azure Sentinel, that continuously scans and collects analysis data on activity across the network. 

It provides a unified view of activity across the network and helps identify security incidents and malicious events. Additionally, implement an endpoint detection and response (EDR), such as Microsoft Defender, that operates at a level beneath the SIEM. EDR capabilities, such as file integrity monitoring and application whitelisting, help detect incidents at network endpoints and enable the quick identification and containment of attempted hacks.

7. Go on the counter-offensive

Security audits and penetration testing are key components of a Zero Trust security strategy to identify cracks in cybersecurity. 

However, because Zero Trust security assumes that breach attempts are always occurring, proactive defense is necessary. Consider using deception techniques and honeypot decoy systems to lure attackers away from your real systems and data. 

Related: How Does Zero Trust Network Acess Work?

Zero Trust Online Security Training and Certification 

Zero Trust security is a framework of principles that is independent of specific vendor products. In fact, you can use many of the familiar security and administration products that you are already using to apply Zero Trust principles, such as microsegments, least privilege access, and multi-factor authentication. 

However, certification programs, such as the Microsoft Certified: Security, Compliance and Identity Fundamentals (SCI) now prepare candidates to move forward with Zero Trust security practices. 

If you are looking to make a career move into cybersecurity, earning a Microsoft SCI certification can give you an important career edge. If you don’t have a security background, start with our Microsoft 365 Certified: Security Administrator Associate online security training. Once that’s under your belt, you can move on to the SCI certification by signing up for CBT Nuggets’ SC-900 online security training course.

Not a CBT subscriber? Sign up for a one-week no-strings-attached trial to explore these courses and others.


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