Zero trust network software can help to improve the security of your small business, increase efficiency, enhance compliance, reduce risk, and provide scalability, making it an important tool in today's challenging cyber security landscape. This page answers the question what is a zero trust network, and explains how it would affect your daily work, and the many benefits to your business.
What is a zero trust network?
Zero trust networking is a security concept that assumes that all network traffic, even traffic originating from within a network, is untrusted and should be verified before being allowed to pass through the network. Zero trust networking software is designed to implement this concept by creating a secure network environment where all incoming and outgoing traffic is verified, regardless of where it originates from or where it is headed.
The basic idea behind a zero trust network is to create a security perimeter around the network that is so tight that even if an attacker gains access to the internal network, they will not be able to move laterally and access sensitive resources.
What are the main features of a zero trust network?
The security of a zero trust network is achieved through a number of different technologies and techniques, including:
All users and devices accessing the zero trust network must provide multiple forms of authentication, such as a password, a smart card, or biometric data, before they are granted access.
The zero trust network is divided into smaller, isolated segments, with each segment being protected by its own security perimeter.
All incoming and outgoing network traffic is analysed in real-time to detect and block any suspicious activity.
Each user, device, and application within the network is assigned a unique security profile that defines what network resources they can access and what actions they can perform.
All network traffic is encrypted, both in transit and at rest, to protect against eavesdropping and data theft.
By combining these technologies and techniques, zero trust networking software creates a highly secure network environment where all incoming and outgoing traffic is verified and any suspicious activity is blocked, regardless of where it originates from or where it is headed. This makes it much more difficult for attackers to gain access to sensitive resources, and helps to prevent data breaches and other security incidents.
What’s the difference between zero trust and sandboxing?
Zero-Trust Network Access (ZTNA) and Sandboxing are both security technologies used to protect networks and systems from malicious activities and potential threats. However, they have different approaches and purposes.
ZTNA is a security model that assumes that no network or device is trustworthy, and all access to resources must be authenticated and authorised. Zero trust networking uses various techniques such as multi-factor authentication, encryption, and micro-segmentation to verify the identity of users and devices and control access to resources. The goal of Zero trust networking is to provide secure access to resources from anywhere and on any device, while maintaining the confidentiality and integrity of data.
Sandboxing, on the other hand, is a security technique that creates a separate, isolated environment in which to run applications and processes. This allows the execution of potentially malicious code or programs without risking damage to the host system or network. Sandboxing can be used to detect and prevent malware infections and other security incidents, and can also be used to test and evaluate software applications.
Basically, Zero trust networking provides secure access to resources by verifying the identity of users and devices and controlling access, while Sandboxing provides security by isolating potentially malicious activities from the host system and network. Both technologies are important in providing a comprehensive security solution, and can be used together to enhance the security posture of a network or system.
A Zero Trust Network in real life
How does zero trust security software implement network segmentation?
Here’s an example of using a network that has zero trust network segmentation:
Imagine you have a small business that sells custom handmade jewellery online. Your network includes a web server that hosts your online store, a database server that stores customer information and orders, and a file server that stores design files and product images.
With zero trust network segmentation, each of these servers would be isolated in its own network segment, or “micro-segment,” with its own unique security profile. Access to the web server, for example, would be limited to only the necessary ports and protocols required for the web server to operate. Similarly, access to the database server would be limited to only the applications and users that need to interact with it.
When a customer visits your online shop, their browser would initiate a connection to the web server. This connection would be analysed in real-time by the zero trust software, which would verify the identity of the customer and the source of the traffic before allowing the connection to be established.
Once the connection is established, the customer would be able to browse the shop and place an order. The order information would be transmitted over an encrypted connection to the database server, which would store the information in a secure database.
When it’s time to process the order, the design files and product images required to create the custom jewellery would be retrieved from the file server, again over an encrypted connection. The zero trust software would verify the identity of the user accessing the file server and ensure that they have the appropriate permissions to access the files.
In this example, zero trust network segmentation helps to protect your sensitive data and systems by verifying all incoming and outgoing network traffic and restricting access to only those users and applications that need it. This helps to reduce your risk of data breaches and other security incidents, and ensures the continued success of your business.
How does zero trust network software apply micro-segmentation in real life?
Imagine you have a small business with a network that includes several servers, each hosting a different application. For example, one server might host your company’s customer relationship management (CRM) system, another might host your financial management system, and a third might host your human resources system.
With micro-segmentation of your zero trust network, each of these servers would be isolated in its own network segment, or “micro-segment,” with its own unique security profile. Access to the CRM server, for example, would be limited to only the necessary ports and protocols required for the CRM system to operate, and access to the financial management system would be limited to only the applications and users that need to interact with it.
When an employee accesses the CRM system, their request would be analysed in real-time by the zero trust security system, which would verify the identity of the employee and the source of the request before allowing their connection to the CRM system be established. Once the connection is established, the employee would be able to use the CRM system as needed.
However, suppose the employee then wanted to access the financial management system. The zero trust security system would verify the employee’s identity and permissions all over again, and only allow access if the employee has the appropriate privileges.
In this example, micro-segmentation helps to enforce a “least privilege” security model. Each user can only access the resources on the network that they need to do their jobs. Each application is only allowed to access the resources it needs to perform its designated tasks. This helps to reduce the attack surface, and minimises the risk of data breaches or other security incidents.
How does zero trust network software analyse traffic without slowing users down?
Zero trust network software can analyse traffic without slowing users down through a combination of technologies and techniques, including:
Zero trust software uses advanced algorithms to analyse network traffic in real-time, allowing it to quickly and efficiently identify threats and verify the identity of users and applications.
Caching and pre-fetching
Zero trust software can cache frequently used security policies, certificates, and authentication information, reducing the amount of time and processing power required to verify each request. Some zero trust solutions also use techniques like pre-fetching to predict which resources a user will need and retrieve them in advance, further reducing latency.
Some zero trust network solutions are cloud-based, meaning that the heavy processing and analysis required to secure the network is performed by large-scale, highly-optimized cloud systems. This can help to ensure that the performance of your local network is not impacted by security operations.
Multi-threading and parallel processing
Many zero trust solutions are designed to perform multiple operations in parallel, reducing the time required to complete each operation and allowing the solution to handle more traffic without slowing users down.
Zero trust solutions often use optimised protocols and algorithms that are designed to be efficient and fast, helping to reduce the latency and overhead associated with network security operations.
By leveraging these and other technologies and techniques, zero trust software can analyse traffic without slowing users down, helping to ensure that your business can operate efficiently and securely.