Building a Zero Trust Architecture: Best Practices

zero trust architecture best practices

Zero trust architecture is great for keeping your cloud or hybrid environment safe from both insider and external threats, but it can be complex to set up and maintain. By following the best practices mentioned below, you establish a zero-trust environment that effectively controls user access and prevents most attacks from succeeding.  

Quick Takeaways

  • Zero trust: Access is only granted to users following strict authentication and security measures that ensure unauthorized users will not be permitted into the network. 
  • Best practices: Apply strict access controls, MFA, threat intelligence, and other tools for best results.
  • Beware of insider threats: Not all insider threats are malicious, but they are a problem just the same. Zero trust architecture helps to mitigate these threats. 
  • Tight trust security is best for business: Whether it’s keeping you out of a security incident or covering your compliance bases, your business will benefit from a focus on zero trust. 

What is Zero Trust Architecture?

Zero trust architecture is a corporate network security architecture that creates an environment that is relatively safe from attack, including potential internal threats. 

It reduces the following risks:

  • Unauthorized access to data
  • Network exposure to attackers
  • The damage that a successful attack might cause 

11 Zero Trust Best Practices (And How to Implement Them)

Implementing zero-trust architecture is a good move for most organizations, but a Zero Trust Network 

Access (ZTNA) solution is complex and can require significant changes to your environment. So, it’s important to follow 11 best practices to set up and maintain your zero-trust environment. 

#1. Conduct a comprehensive assessment of the current security posture

You won’t know how far you need to go without knowing the starting point. Visibility is important for any organization’s security, so make sure you have accounted for all of your company’s data and resources to determine how strong your security is now.

#2. Define clear security requirements and trust policies

Start by creating a list of roles and potential network segments (or microsegments) so that you can begin drafting access control policies. 

You will likely need to account for remote workers and employees who bring their own devices to work (or have remote access to your network from a personal device, like a mobile device, or from home). Define the security requirements that you plan to require of any external device. 

A good ZTNA solution can restrict access if the device does not meet those standards.

#3. Apply strict access controls and least-privilege access

Remember to only grant access to information and resources that the individual or group needs. Your recruiting team doesn’t need access to an unpublished web application, for example. 

#4. Implement network segmentation to limit lateral movement

To facilitate these limits, you can use network segmentation, which will deny access to the recruiters if they try to access the unfinished application. 

Network segmentation typically blocks access based on an employee’s designated role within the network, so you can automatically prevent employees from accessing servers or information not relevant to them. Should there be an attack, segmentation naturally isolates the rest of the network from the compromised user, which limits the attacker’s reach.

#5. Establish multi-factor authentication for all users

While this may be frustrating for some users, MFA is an essential component of zero-trust architecture. 

Require all your employees to use it, and train them to only authenticate a login attempt if they have initiated it.

#6. Continuously monitor and analyze user activity and access logs

Good ZTNA solutions include automated monitoring and alerts, so be sure to respond quickly to alerts and keep an eye on access management and logs. Faster responses to suspicious activity are the ticket to stopping an attack; if you can’t stop the attack, you can prevent a great deal of damage by being on top of things. 

#7. Utilize threat intelligence and real-time visibility 

Continuous monitoring, automated alerts, and threat detection measures can help you identify and respond to potential threats early. ZTNA solutions can identify behaviors or activities that deviate from a typical pattern, and tracking these deviations can help you pin down a threat. 

#8. Regularly update and patch all systems and applications

To reduce your network’s attack surface, prioritize vulnerabilities and patch them as soon as possible. 

Keeping applications and systems updated prevents attackers from exploiting known security vulnerabilities, and every vulnerability that you block off is one less potential attack vector. 

#9. Implement strong user authentication protocols and encryption methods

Zero trust architecture depends on strong authentication. 

Encrypting remote connections reduces attackers’ ability to spy on your activities, and MFA and other authentication tools can keep them out of the network entirely. 

#10. Integrate zero-trust principles into the organization’s security strategy and framework

Once you have established a zero-trust architecture, implemented ZTNA, and leveraged available security tools, remember to continue using zero-trust principles, including the Principle of Least Privilege. 

Continue limiting employee access to resources, and always require authentication and device identity verification when someone attempts to access your network. 

#11. Address Common Challenges and Potential Threats

Finally, keep an eye out for common security issues, such as insider threats, cyberattacks, and third-party application vulnerabilities. 

Limit the number of privileged users, and use firewalls and VPNs where useful in your security strategy

Create a Secure Zero Trust Architecture with Perimeter81

Following these best practices, including implementing Perimeter81’s ZTNA solution, can help you minimize your risk of a security incident. 

Internal threats constitute the majority of all major incidents, so it’s important to ensure that your employees are trained on zero-trust principles and that they have tools at their disposal to connect to your organization’s network securely.

To learn more about our ZTNA offering and other security solutions, get in touch with us today.


What is zero trust in a nutshell?
Zero trust is a security model that prioritizes authentication and identity verification for all users, both internal and external. It also limits access to data and resources based on the principle of least privilege. 
What is the core principle of zero trust?
The principle of least privilege is a core idea of zero trust. Users have permission to access only the data they need to do their jobs. The access permitted may vary based on context.
Why should a zero-trust strategy be implemented?
Implementing zero trust improves security and incident response times, reduces an organization’s attack surface, and reduces the risk of malware and compromised credential attacks.
Why might zero trust fail?
While zero trust is a highly effective strategy when implemented successfully, it can be difficult to get employee buy-in, and setup and maintenance are complex.
Is zero trust a fad?
While implementation isn’t always straightforward, zero trust is here to stay due to its benefits to organizational security and compliance.

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