The Zero Trust Security Model
The Zero Trust Security Model is gaining traction as one of the most secure methods of defense against cyber threats. The concept is based on the idea that organizations should not automatically trust users or systems inside or outside of their enterprise networks, no matter how well they appear to be authenticated. This all-encompassing approach requires total visibility into user activities and data access across many parts of an organization’s network. All activities must be monitored and continuously analyzed for suspicious behavior before any action can be taken. The added layer of protection provided by the zero trust model helps to reduce the risk of system failure and malicious attacks, thereby safeguarding sensitive data. The Air Force can benefit significantly from zero trust security architecture by providing comprehensive protection for its critical networks and data. This type of architecture requires complete visibility into user-data access and activities across many parts of the network. Using this approach, the Air Force can ensure that all activity is monitored and continuously analyzed for suspicious behavior before any action is implemented. The Department of Defense’s new Zero Trust Strategy and Roadmap, released in November of 2022, provides an all-encompassing framework for enhanced security by not relying on authentication methods alone but also monitoring user activities and data access across organizations. This strategy requires organizations to have complete visibility into user-data access and activities, allowing them to detect suspicious behavior before any action is taken. At DTSI, we are beginning the assessment phase to determine how the Air Force applications we sustain will evolve.
Identifying users and devices
When using the zero trust security model, it is essential to be able to identify who and what is on your network. This means keeping track of users and devices that are connected. You need to be able to see all the activities that are taking place on the network. It’s also essential to analyze all activities for anything suspicious before you do anything else. This extra layer of protection can help keep your data safe from malicious attacks or system failures. Identifying users and devices on an extensive network like the Air Force is hard. It’s important to know who is using the network and what kind of devices are connected. You must watch everything that is happening on the network to make sure it’s safe from problems or bad people trying to hurt it. This extra step helps keep your data safe. Two approaches to identifying the correct users and devices are: 1) keeping track of users and devices that are connected and 2) analyzing all activities for anything suspicious. It is imperative to know who is using a network like the Air Force’s, what kind of devices are connected, and monitor everything happening on the network. This helps keep data safe from bad people or problems. The idea of these approaches often sounds simple, but, it is one of the most difficult challenges to maintain. The sheer complexity and constant evolution of modern networks mean that Air Force cyber organizations must be highly vigilant to protect their information from malicious actors. As cyber threats become more sophisticated and vary widely in style, form, and attack vector, the complexity only increases so be ready for a long, heavy lift.
Controlling access with least privilege
Controlling access with the least privilege is an important step toward protecting sensitive data. It involves ensuring that the correct permissions are given to those who need them, without providing any additional access unnecessarily. This way, devices and individuals can only access what they need for their tasks, helping to protect data from malicious actors or non-licensed users. For example, if only a particular individual needs to use a computer, they should not have access to anything other than the files specified for them; this will protect the rest of the computer’s data from manipulation or being opened by people other than the intended user. Least privilege is essential in maintaining security over valuable, sensitive information. In the Department of Defense (DoD), there is no shortage of rules and regulations that provide distinct user privileges. While this can be a complicated challenge to navigate, it’s important to remember the purpose of least privilege: that access should only be granted where it is needed and verified through role definition. Security personnel must understand this fundamental principle to identify and control who has accurate privileges. The correct answer isn’t simply “no access”, but the question becomes what specific level of access does someone need? With understanding and application of least privilege, organizations can ensure their users have access only to what’s necessary for their roles—minimizing risk along with ensuring productivity and efficiency.
Micro-segmentation of networks
Micro-segmentation of networks is a way to help control access to information in large enterprises. It means that each part of the network is kept separate so people and devices can only access what they need. This helps keep data safe from unauthorized users or attackers. To use micro-segmentation, you need to identify who and what is on the network, give users only the necessary access for their job, and continuously monitor activities for anything suspicious before taking any action. The complex network architecture of the Department of Defense acts as a valuable barrier to data leakage and unauthorized breaches. Through an elaborate system of enterprise-level and organizational networks, each at various security levels, it safeguards critical information from unwanted access. Though this may be inconvenient for some, having such a carefully curated structure in place should be worth the trouble in terms of enhanced security. Therefore, taking advantage of these measures that the DoD has utilized should be taken into consideration for any organization determined to reduce its risk of becoming victims of cybercrime.
Continuous monitoring and threat intelligence
Continuous monitoring and threat intelligence is the process of constantly checking the activities on your network to make sure they are safe. This includes looking for any suspicious behavior or data access, as well as keeping an eye on users and devices that are connected. It is important to have total visibility into what is happening so you can act quickly if something looks wrong. You should also use threat intelligence to stay up to date with the latest threats and protect yourself from them. The Department of Defense (DoD) is well known for its expansive security systems and tools. While these tools are some of the most sophisticated given their capabilities, the DoD still finds itself at risk from cyberattacks. As evidence, look at the recent breach of Microsoft’s Azure email which proved that even the most comprehensive security structures could be vulnerable to attack. To keep these structures secure, the DoD must continue to use a combination of technology, artificial intelligence, tools and people to monitor for suspicious activity. Such continuous monitoring is essential in helping to protect government data from malicious actors. One day, artificial intelligence may take over that role, but until then, we must still verify the actions and processes taken to defend the network.
Automating security processes
Automating security processes means using technology to help keep your network safe. It can include things like using special software to monitor activities on the network and look for any suspicious behavior. It can also mean setting up rules that control who or what is allowed on the network and setting up automatic alerts if something looks wrong. Automating these processes helps you stay aware of potential threats so you can respond quickly and keep your data safe. Yes, artificial intelligence can be used to automate security processes. It can help in many ways, like using special software to check what is happening on the network and look for any suspicious behavior. It can also set up rules that decide who or what is allowed on the network. Artificial intelligence can send out alerts if something looks wrong, so people know quickly if there is a problem. Automating these processes helps keep your data safe from threats.
As technology continues to scale new heights, it is more important than ever to close gaps and minimize risk by adopting the ‘never trust, always verify’ strategy. In addition to protecting your infrastructure from cyber-attacks and data breaches, zero trust is sure to prove beneficial in preserving the integrity of your data, and efficiency of your operation resulting in favorable cost savings and increased profitability.
Greg Olivares, DTSI Account Executive