The “Zero Trust Framework” follows a “never trust, always verify” approach to security by insisting that every user and device connecting to network resources must be verified. This framework leverages advanced technologies like risk-based multi-factor authentication, network segmentation, and robust cloud workload security to verify the identity of users and devices.
Security maturity benchmarks.
The zero trust framework is an enterprise security initiative requiring changing people, processes, and technology. Just like a baby must crawl and then walk before it can ride a bike or drive, cybersecurity initiatives must progress through a lifecycle of maturity, where the organization develops skills, learns and practices best practices, and improves its overall security posture.
Embracing Zero Trust requires an identity, context, and data-centric approach, with fine-grained security controls between users, systems, devices, applications, and cloud workloads. It also focuses on limiting a breach’s “blast radius” to minimize the impact, both on the environment and the business. This means the enterprise must deploy and execute a complete risk-based security model incorporating risk-based multi-factor authentication, risk-based detection, granular policy & access control, visibility & analytics, and automation & orchestration.
A solid plan to implement Zero Trust and a method of measuring progress along the way will help you stay on track. Using the tools and resources available, your organization can succeed with Zero Trust. The best way to ensure your security team is on board with the Zero Trust framework is by engaging them and ensuring they are adequately trained and prepared.
This is a critical step in enabling them to provide the highest level of security for your organization’s assets and information.
Security maturity models.
Whether you’re just beginning your Zero Trust journey or amid an ongoing transition, security maturity models can help you evaluate and benchmark your progress. These frameworks identify gaps in security controls, processes, and capabilities and offer a roadmap for reducing risk and incident costs by improving your cybersecurity posture.
Using a cybersecurity maturity model to assess your organization’s state of affairs effectively creates the context for leaders when allocating resources for Zero Trust.
For example, suppose you need more support from leadership about investing in more staff, funding, or time to support your Zero Trust transition.
In that case, you can use the security maturity model to show how much work is still needed to fully prepare for the new risks associated with the post-perimeter world.
CISA’s Five Step Zero Trust Migration (ZTMM) is a standard Zero Trust security maturity model. This model includes three cross-cutting capabilities to strengthen, accelerate, and enable your ZT transition. These include visibility and analytics, automation and orchestration, and governance. The centralized visibility and security management functions can help you achieve these goals. This provides unique, unified protection and enables a fast and effective zero-trust migration for your business or government agency.
Getting started on operationalizing Zero Trust is a challenging feat. It’s often a multi-year journey that requires technology investments, workforce training, and a change in security mindset.
The complexities of Zero Trust are further exacerbated by the fact that it can’t be “turned on” and left on – security must be constantly reevaluated to identify gaps, address them with targeted solutions, and monitor results. In addition, implementing the right technologies and solutions can change existing infrastructure and potentially impact organizational culture.
Maturity assessments are the perfect tool to help organizations understand their current state and determine how far they must go on the zero-trust path. These assessments are based on best practices and industry standards and should provide a clear understanding of the current state of an organization. Modern models are more quantitative than traditional maturity models, which can be subjective and influenced by assessors’ perceptions of the organization. They use data to evaluate the effectiveness of an organization’s processes and tools, including how well a configuration management database (CMDB) works, whether all management investments are consolidated into one platform and more. These metrics are then used to create a roadmap for achieving Zero Trust maturity.
Security maturity measures.
Defending traditional security perimeters alone is no longer enough as cyber threats increase in frequency and complexity. Embracing Zero Trust is critical to crafting a security posture capable of staving off advanced adversaries.
However, implementing a Zero Trust architecture can be challenging for any organization. It requires a significant amount of restructuring, investments, and change management.
To help guide organizations on their Zero Trust journeys, leveraging the cybersecurity maturity model to provide visibility into an organization’s current state of implementation is vital.
Using this approach, the seven Zero Trust pillars are evaluated, and, from there, create customized roadmaps to achieve measurable improvement.
The goal is to help clients mature across the user, identity, context, and data pillars to implement comprehensive security monitoring, granular dynamic risk-based access controls, and system security automation throughout their infrastructure.
The model defines five distinct process maturity levels: nonexistence, ad hoc, repeatable, defined, and managed. Each of these stages represents a different level of security optimization.
At a high level of security maturity, the information security processes are automated and integrated into business operations, are monitored regularly to detect threats, and are continually optimized via analysis. It’s important to remember that even if an organization has reached the highest level of security maturity, it’s still on a continuous journey.
The landscape of modern threats is constantly changing, and enterprises must reassess their security capabilities and implement new solutions regularly.