What is Zero Trust Data Security? Principles and Benefits

June 19th, 2023 / By: / Published in: Blog

How do companies secure infrastructure when there is no traditional network edge? Now networks can be in the cloud, local, or a hybrid, with resources and users dispersed globally. Companies need the right technology practices in place to address the security concerns arising from complex and widespread infrastructure. Zero trust data protection is an approach companies can take to secure networks, but what is zero trust? 

Read on to learn the principles and benefits of zero trust data security. 

What is zero trust data security?

Zero Trust Architecture (ZTA) is a security framework that requires all users to be authorized, authenticated, and continuously validated for ongoing access to data and applications. Zero trust data security assumes no network edge, meaning the network could be local, in the cloud, or hybrid. 

Additionally, zero trust data security does not grant trust to users based on physical or network location. It applies scrutiny to all users, whether inside or outside the company’s network, on-site or on the other side of the world. As a security solution, zero trust addresses challenges posed by remote users, personal device usage, and cloud-based assets outside an enterprise-owned network. Companies create their definitions and terms of Zero Trust, and there are formally recognized standards that help companies create a functional framework. 

How does zero trust data protection work?

Zero trust data protection is very different from the traditional “trust but verify” method that became obsolete as businesses migrated transformation initiatives to the cloud and distributed users and resources across broad geographic areas. 

Zero trust data protection uses advanced technologies like endpoint security, multi-factor authentication, and identity protection to verify system or user identity and maintain overall security. With zero trust, data must be encrypted, email accounts must be secured, and assets and endpoints must be scanned and approved before connecting to applications on the network. To enforce zero trust policies, companies must have real-time visibility into application, and user identity attributes such as:

  • Name
  • Credentials 
  • Connectivity behavior patterns
  • Endpoint hardware type and functionality 
  • Geographic location
  • Firmware versions
  • Authentication protocol and risk
  • Operating system version and patch levels
  • Security and incident detection 

Principles of Zero Trust Data Security

There are many different Zero Trust protocols, technologies, products, and services. Here are a few that are the highest regarded:

The U.S. General Services Administration outlines the technologies that an effective zero trust architecture incorporates: 

  • Authenticate, monitor, and validate user identities and trustworthiness. 
  • Identify, monitor, and manage devices and endpoints on a network. 
  • Control and manage access to data and data flows within networks. 
  • Secure and accredit applications within a configuration. 
  • Automate security monitoring and connect tools across systems. 
  • Analyze data and user behavior to observe real-time events and proactively organize network defense. 

The National Institute of Standards and Technology established the NIST 800-207 in 2020, which discusses the following core logical components of a zero trust architecture. 

  • Continuous and ubiquitous access verification. 
  • Minimize the impact of a breach, should one occur. 
  • Leverage behavioral data to understand the context and automate data collection and response. 

Forrester Zero Trust eXtended (ZTX) Ecosystem and Gartner CARTA are other prominent zero trust frameworks companies can reference to build an actionable solution. 

Benefits of Zero Trust Data Security

Many cybersecurity benefits companies can leverage when they implement zero trust data security, including: 

Accurate Infrastructure Inventory 

With zero trust, administrators must know exactly what users, devices, data, apps, and servers are a part of the infrastructure and keep real-time track of where the resources are located. This requirement results in an accurate understanding of inventory, enabling additional benefits like improving productivity and more. 

Better Monitoring and Alerts

Monitoring processes can be overwhelmingly complex unless the right tools are implemented. Companies can use tools that combine log and event analysis and AI to recognize when security issues arise and illuminate corrective actions. These resources and tools include security information and event management (SIEM), security orchestration automation and response (SOAR), and more. 

Improved User Experience

Increased security standards may sound cumbersome for the end-user, but that is not necessarily the case. With zero trust, companies can deploy single sign-on (SSO) tools that streamline password management and simplify the login process for users. It also lowers the overall network latency for security services, improving the user experience. 

Streamlined Security Policy Creation

Traditionally, many security models were siloed and worked independently. This approach led to vulnerabilities and difficulties with configuration. With zero trust, companies can create and implement a universal policy throughout the business. Streamlines deployment and management and reduces the potential for security gaps. 

Increased Flexibility 

Business goals are continually evolving, and tech solutions must also be agile and developed. Historically, changes to a tech solution required companies to make granular and time-consuming changes to security as well. Now, zero trust streamlines migrating security policies where they are necessary and scaling as needed. 

Looking to partner with an expert to implement zero trust data security? Contact Encora to learn more about zero trust data security and our advanced software engineering capabilities.