The answer to why is Zero Trust important lies in the fact that businesses across the globe are increasingly dependent on cloud computing for their essential data storage and user management requirements. It is critical to have the robust security protection that the Zero Trust model provides and this should be included in your cloud security roadmap to reduce your risk level. In this article, we’ll explore why is Zero Trust so important by providing a definition, the Zero Trust principles, and define its impact on cloud security, compliance, and cost optimization.
What is a Zero Trust model?
Zero Trust is a concept that focuses on the idea of not trusting anything or anyone by default when it comes to accessing resources or systems. It assumes that no user, device, or network should be automatically trusted, even if they are within the organization’s network perimeter.
No matter who the person is trying to access your workload, no matter how many times they’ve signed in from the same device, there are no compromises made when it comes to authentication and access. This is the “trust no one, verify everything” approach. It assumes that all users and devices, both inside and outside the network, are potential threats. Instead of granting broad access privileges, it emphasizes the need to verify and authenticate users and devices at every access attempt.
The purpose of the Zero Trust framework is to secure your infrastructure 24/7, preventing unauthorized access. It helps to address the challenges of modern business with increased digitization across all industries, remote work, and evolving cyber threats.
What is the alternative to a Zero Trust model?
Without a Zero Trust model, there is the traditional perimeter-based security model where you create a security perimeter around your network, and anything inside that perimeter is considered trusted, while anything outside is considered untrusted. In today’s modern world of emerging threats in every industry, the traditional perimeter-based security model has too many limitations to be included in your cloud security roadmap. The risks involved include insider threats in cases where there are malicious or negligent insiders with legitimate access, lateral movement across your entire infrastructure for attackers who have access, and difficulties navigating remote work as users and resources are no longer confined within a well-defined network boundary.
Zero Trust model vs the traditional perimeter-based security model
The Zero Trust model, on the other hand, addresses the limitations of the perimeter-based security model risks by assuming that no entity is inherently trusted and by continuously verifying and monitoring all access attempts. So, not having inherent trust for users within the network to access whatever they want. By adopting a Zero Trust approach, organizations can enhance their security posture by reducing the attack surface, minimizing the impact of breaches, and gaining better control and visibility over their network.
It’s important to note that while Zero Trust is an effective security model, it is not a one-size-fits-all solution for your cloud security roadmap. Each organization’s security needs may vary based on its specific use cases, industry, and risk appetite. In some cases, a hybrid approach that combines elements of both Zero Trust and traditional security measures may be the most practical solution. The key is to evaluate your organization’s unique requirements and implement a security strategy that provides the necessary protection against the evolving threat landscape.
The 6 principles of the Zero Trust security model
Under the Zero Trust model, access control is based on various factors, such as user identity, device health, location, and behavior. It employs technologies like multi-factor authentication, encryption, micro-segmentation, and strict access controls to ensure that only authorized users and devices can access specific resources.
These technologies encompass the 6 principles of the Zero Trust security model: verify every user and device, implement least privilege access, achieve micro-segmentation, always assume breach, continuously monitor and assess, and encrypt and protect all data.
To initiate the implementation of the Zero Trust model in AWS, and kickstart your cloud security roadmap without complexities, the cloud management platform, StackZone, provides an array of features that align with the fundamental principles of Zero Trust. The beauty of StackZone is it achieves control and complete visibility through automation. This means you have a proactive approach to cloud security, with 24/7 Zero Trust influencing every part of your cloud management. Let’s explore the 6 principles in more detail:
Verify every user and device
Before accessing any resource or data, it is important to authenticate and authorize every single user and device. StackZone offers identity and access management (IAM) solutions that facilitate the authentication and authorization process for all users and devices attempting to access AWS resources. This is achieved by implementing AWS Single Sign On with predefined permission sets that comply with best practices. These permission sets can be easily implemented and managed through StackZone’s console.
Implement least privilege access
Users should be granted access only to the necessary resources for their job functions, and no more. This principle can be achieved by adopting a multi-account strategy through Stackzone’s landing zones and centrally managing access through the management account. With StackZone, all access is handled from the management account and through AWS SSO. Furthermore, StackZone’s predefined permission sets, which adhere to best practices, ensure that each user and role possess only the minimum privileges required to effectively fulfill their tasks. Lastly, it is crucial to have a centralized understanding of the privileges associated with each role and user. To accomplish this, it is necessary to implement IAM Access Analyzer in every account and region and perform centralized analysis from the security account.
To prevent the lateral movement of attackers, it is advisable to divide network segments into smaller, more manageable segments. The initial step in segregating your workload is adopting a multi-account strategy. With StackZone, you can easily create new compliant accounts to separate your workloads. Once the workloads are assigned to dedicated accounts, you can utilize the StackZone Service Catalog portfolio to deploy compliant VPCs. Additionally, implementing networking monitoring alerts and auto-remediations through StackZone will help guarantee the security and proper configuration of your network segments.
Always assume breach
To achieve the Zero Trust model, you have to operate under the assumption that attackers are already present within the network and are actively trying to move laterally to obtain access to sensitive resources. To address this concern, StackZone provides solutions for threat detection and response, enabling the identification and response to any suspicious activities on the network. With StackZone, you can effortlessly deploy and manage various tools such as Amazon GuardDuty, along with its remediation actions and advanced notifications, Amazon Inspector, Amazon Macie, AWS CloudTrail, CloudWatch alarms, and S3 bucket antivirus, all all included in most of StackZone’s Blueprints and accessible through the StackZone console with just a few simple clicks to improve your cloud management and strengthen your cloud security.
Continuously monitor and assess
Continuous monitoring for any suspicious activity should be implemented on the network, and access policies need to be regularly reassessed and updated. StackZone offers 24/7 monitoring and compliance solutions that facilitate the ongoing monitoring of the network and the evaluation of access policies. These solutions include the deployment through automation of CloudWatch alarms and auto-alarms, Prowler, Config rules with auto remediations, and service control policies applied through guardrails.
Encrypt and protect all data
Data encryption is crucial to protecting your data, whether it is in transit or at rest. StackZone offers automated data protection solutions that ensure your information in the cloud is protected. By implementing monitoring through AWS config rules and remediation through auto-remediation rules, StackZone ensures your resources are protected. And, by managing KMS Keys automatically, it ensures the cryptographic keys used to protect your data are managed in accordance with cloud best practices. This is complemented by automatic backup, which ensures that if something happens, the information will be recovered as fast and as updated as possible. These solutions help safeguard sensitive data and prevent unauthorized access.
Why is Zero Trust important for cloud security?
Another question we should be asking is what role does Zero Trust take in your cloud security roadmap; how does Zero Trust help to achieve the goal of cloud security?
With cloud security, there isn’t one product, one hire, or one solution that you can pay for that provides complete protection. It needs to be rooted in your cloud tools, processes, the way your team communicates, and pretty much all your business activity needs to have a security focus. Security requires a holistic approach. Adopting the Zero Trust model is a huge step forward in preventing security risks because by guarding access to your cloud infrastructure, you are preventing the opportunity for exploitation. Once you add additional security measures such as an effective tagging strategy, correct configurations, controlled access management of human users and machines, and robust monitoring and alerting, you stand strong in a challenging cyber threat sphere of malware, ransomware, insider threats, phishing, and new sophisticated types of attacks.
Why is Zero Trust important for cloud compliance?
Another benefit of a Zero Trust cloud security approach is that it helps you comply with industry standards for data protection by preventing the risk of exposure of confidential information. Zero Trust is at the core of all the security regulations and standards cloud users need to comply with. These include SOC 2, HIPAA, ISO 27001, and more, Zero Trust is the proactive approach to managing access, data, and resources.
Essentially, if you want to simplify creating continuous cloud compliance, the Zero Trust model is the best way to go about it.
Why is Zero Trust important for cloud management?
Zero Trust is important for everyday cloud management because it enhances security, data protection, and compliance while enabling organizations to optimize resources and adapt to the evolving cloud landscape. It fosters a secure and agile cloud environment that can meet the challenges posed by the ever-changing cybersecurity landscape and support modern business needs. If you need to scale up or scale down, Zero Trust can help you to do this securely. By increasing your security, particularly when taking advantage of the automation StackZone provides, watch your productivity increase as you spend less time second-guessing and completing manual tasks.
Committing to a Zero Trust approach is a crucial component of your cloud security roadmap, helping you address any security concerns you currently have and removing future ones. You’re setting yourself up for success by integrating the 6 principles of the Zero Trust security model into your cloud management. This can all be achieved within hours of StackZone set up.
Not only do you increase control over your security posture, but you also optimize your cloud budget and comply with the necessary accreditations for your industry in the process. By booking a demo, a member of our team will show you the StackZone console and help you explore how it can help your bespoke cloud requirements.
The concept behind this model is to consistently take steps towards improvement, gradually moving closer to the desired outcome of high cloud security. Our next articles in this series of the cloud security roadmap will detail the next step of an effective tagging strategy, so follow our social media to see when that’s live on our blog.
This article was written by Eduardo Van Cauteren, Cloud Platform Engineer