There has been a sea change in how employees connect to and interact with the enterprise resources to get things done. The conventional network security model was programmed to connect staff to the data center’s services they required. There were very few remote workers at the time and using an operationally complex VPN, they linked back to their home network.
With the dramatic, unpredictable changes brought about by the pandemic, most workers now work remotely, and almost all businesses today use multiple public cloud services. Coupled with the security flaws associated with VPNs, these factors mean that the conventional model is no longer reliable.
The Zero-Trust Security Model
A critical weakness in the usage of remote access VPNs is that once users are authenticated, they are considered trustworthy and given complete access. As a consequence, once a hacker reaches the firewalls of an organization, with little resistance, if any, he/she can travel around the network.
John Kindervag developed the zero-trust security model back in 2010. He also mentioned in an article how trust is a human emotion and added that in digital structures, such as networks, it has no meaning. There is no need for ‘trust’ in these systems except to be exploited by malicious actors who manipulate it for their own sinister gain.
The zero-trust model is based on the principle that before granting access, organizations do not automatically trust anything inside or beyond their perimeters and must instead verify anyone attempting to link to their networks. Users have a special, set identity and one-to-one connections in a zero-trust model between them and the services they choose to use. The key advantage of this model is that the whole organization is not influenced by a compromise of one asset.
Taking Zero-Trust Model To The Next Level
A downside of the original zero-trust security paradigm was that it could last for a long time for interactions between a user and network resources. An extended model in which a user’s right to access services is constantly checked, preferably at the packet stage, will minimize this possible attack vector.
In addition to continuous authentication, next-generation access must be permitted via an efficient zero confidence model. For next-generation access, a range of features is provided, including Single Sign-On (SSO), Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA), and the correlation between access and users.
Zero Trust Network-as-a-Service (NaaS)
Replacing the site-centric approach with an identity-based approach that involves both dynamic network segmentation by user and continuous authentication is the best way to resolve the technological shortcomings in the conventional network security model. A cloud-native NaaS is constructed around a zero-trust architecture with a special fixed identity for each user and bound by a software-defined perimeter (SDP). The SDP architecture allows one-to-one network connections between the user and the specific resources he/she needs to access, which are dynamically generated on demand. No access is possible unless explicitly granted, and any access granted is checked at packet level on an ongoing basis.
In the age of digital transformation, a zero-trust security model is crucial. The new way of thinking is based on never trusting, continuously checking, and minimizing access to resources with complex micro-segmentation, compared to the old ‘trust but verify’ approach.
Organizations must move quickly in order to embrace the latest security model, given the increase in the complexity and effect of security attacks. Anyone working in the field of cybersecurity would know that the place where the latest protection model has the biggest vulnerabilities is remote access. And it is best to start replacing VPNs with a zero-trust security model having a software-defined perimeter. It would significantly improve the security posture of organizations.