What Is Zero Trust Architecture?

Zero Trust Architecture (Zero Trust approach) is a security model that argues there is no implicit trust provided to user accounts or properties depending on their network or physical location, or on their possession of the asset. To comply with the NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) Zero Trust approach, both the system and the subject must be approved and authenticated separately before connecting to an enterprise network. Zero Trust is designed to secure new digital ecosystems including firewalls, endpoints, on-premises and other corporate network devices by utilizing network segmentation, mitigating lateral migration, delivering layer 7 vulnerability protection, and simplifying granular user-access control.


A paradigm change has occurred in the field of cybersecurity due to an increase in data breaches and revolutions in network security research. There is now a greater emphasis on the security of smaller or individual clusters of network access or services replacing large network perimeters and multi-factor authentication. Anyone who has access to the network, sensitive data, or a physical location should not have implicit trust. The removal of unwanted data and service entry, as well as the granularization of access management, are at the heart of the Zero Trust Network. NIST has outlined a set of conceptual guidelines for Zero Trust approach architecture and implementation.

NIST Cybersecurity and Zero Trust Security

All data and computing devices shall be considered as resources. For instance, if an employee’s endpoint like a personal smartphone can access enterprise data, it should be classified as a resource.


Regardless of the network’s location, communications must be protected. Regardless of if the requests come from inside or outside the network, the same protection levels must be met in a zero trust approach. Authentication and encryption are required for all forms of communication in the zero trust security model.


Links to corporate network resources should be granted on a case-by-case basis in zero trust model security policies. Authentication to a certain resource, even MFA or two-factor authentication, does not guarantee access policies to all resources immediately.


Identity and access management policy can control resource usage and access, taking into account the user’s identification status, the device making the request, and other behavioral characteristics in real-time.


Businesses must constantly track all of their owned and related devices, endpoints, firewalls and data centers assets to achieve the highest level of protection from cyberattacks possible. To mitigate bugs, patches and updates should be implemented as soon as possible.


Prior to login, the user’s authentication must be strictly applied and must be a complex operation.

Implementing Zero Trust Architecture

Enterprises have a number of options for enforcing zero trust approach in their workflows. Given their corporate goals and culture, strategies and components can differ from one organization to the next. Regardless of differences, both methods guarantee that all zero trust tenets are followed. They do, however, have the choice of concentrating more on one or a few tenets as the key security strategy carriers. The following is a list of those possibilities.

Zero Trust and Micro-segmentation

In this strategy, businesses choose to implement ZTA by putting a single resource or a group of resources on a different network segment that is protected by a gateway. In such instances, hardware devices such as routers, switches, and next-generation firewalls serve as policy enforcement points (PEPs), which protect each resource or related set of resources. Computer agents may also be used to enforce this.

Zero Trust Architecture Deployment

Implementing the Zero Trust Security Model is often thought to be expensive and difficult. In many cases, however, the Zero Trust Approach is designed on top of the current architecture and does not necessitate the replacement of existing technology. Using a basic five-step technique, the Zero Trust Model is often very easy to execute, enforce, and manage for corporate networks, cloud services and other forms of network architecture. This step-by-step method for the Zero Trust security posture will help you and your security teams figure out where you are and where you want to go next:


  • Specify the protected surface.
  • Define the transaction flows.
  • Build Zero-Trust architecture.
  • Create a policy of no trust.
  • Observe and maintain.

Stolen Credentials & Insider Threat in Zero Trust Architecture

To obtain access to passwords, attackers can use a variety of techniques and methods, or an insider can misuse their allowed privilege. To obtain passwords for high-profile profiles, they can use social engineering, phishing, or a combination of attacks. While MFA and two-factor authentication will reduce the likelihood of this form of attack, an attacker with legitimate credentials can also access services to which they have been given access. A hacked employee, for example, may gain network access to a secure data center or employee database with sensitive information. It’s important to remember that accounts with resource control policies are more vulnerable to insider attacks because they own the keys.

Non-person Entities (NPEs) and the Zero Trust Model

To cope with their cybersecurity challenges, many corporate networks have deployed automation and AI or automated software-based agents on network devices and IoT devices. Instead of a human administrator, they would coordinate with the zero trust architecture management elements, including PA and PE. Authentication of these components in the enterprise while maintaining zero trust architecture conformity is a hot topic of discussion. The majority of automated systems, it is assumed, would use some kind of authentication for API access to resources.


When using automatic processes for PE and setup, the main security danger is false positives and false negatives, which can seriously compromise the user experience and increase exposure to security threats like malware.

The Zero Trust Model

The Zero Trust Approach provides clarity and meaning for all traffic – across user, system, venue, and application – as well as the capability for insight into internal traffic. It must pass through a next-generation firewall with decryption capability to achieve access and background. The next-generation firewall allows for micro-segmentation of perimeters and serves as internal border protection. Although it’s important to protect the network’s edge, it’s much more important to obtain clarity such that traffic can be verified when it moves between various roles. Adding two-factor authentication and other methods of encryption can improve your security and user verification. Use a Zero Trust model to define the business processes, customers, files, data flows, and associated risks, then set protocol guidelines that can be changed dynamically for each revision depending on the associated risks.


For more information check out our partners at IDEE GmbH. IDEE is a German cybersecurity company that makes digital interactions trustworthy and private by providing reliable, secure, and completely passwordless identification, authentication and authorization solutions.


Stand-alone or in addition to your favorite SSO or password manager, IDEE helps organizations achieve tangible gains in cyber resilience whilst driving costs down and transforming the customer, partner and employee user experience.