Zero Trust Network Design: Principles and Considerations

Zero Trust Network Design

If your company is using the cloud for data storage or infrastructure resources, you should use zero trust principles to reduce your risk of attack. You can use a variety of security tools to lock down potential vulnerabilities, but zero trust network design addresses some of the most common risks you encounter. 

  • Insider threats
  • Lateral movement
  • Malware

As more organizations adopt remote work, the odds of remote workers falling for attacks or neglecting security rise. Plus, without on-site firewalls and filters, some employees will be more susceptible to malware and phishing. 

To combat this, companies should use zero-trust principles to limit access, increase the protection of sensitive data, and improve the security of remote network connections. 

Quick Takeaways

  • Zero trust network: A network that implements zero trust only allows secure access to authorized users on verified devices. 
  • Principle of Least Privilege: Only users who need access to part of a corporate network or certain information have the appropriate permissions. 
  • Access policies: In a zero-trust network, there are rules to determine who can access what, which may change based on certain conditions. 
  • MFA: Multi-factor authentication is one tool used to ensure that the person using a set of credentials is the person to whom they belong.
  • Use automated monitoring to improve response times. An effective zero-trust architecture solution should include automated monitoring, which you can use to detect potential attacks early. 
  • Zero trust solutions improve security. Because zero-trust architecture solutions keep sections of the private network isolated and enforce access control policies, attackers are unable to access more than a small part of the whole environment if infiltration succeeds. 

What is a Zero Trust Network?

Zero trust network means that no connections to your network are permitted without authenticating credentials and verifying the identity of the device. Even if you are an internal user, you cannot access the entire network without confirming that you are an authorized user. 

Key Principles of Zero Trust

To create a zero trust environment, be sure to keep these key principles in mind:

  • Principle #1: Least-Privilege Access. When you set up your security solutions, ensure that you are giving employees the minimum access necessary for them to do their jobs effectively. If an employee doesn’t need to access a particular server or file, that employee should not be able to access it.
  • Principle #2: Continuous Verification. A user typically follows patterns of use that advanced security tools, like ZTNA solutions, can detect. The solution should continuously monitor device and user behavior, so if the user begins to act differently than usual or attempts to access data in atypical segments, the activity will trigger an alert. 
  • Principle #3: Network Segmentation. One important way to reduce your risk of serious damage from an attack is to segment your network. This separates different groups of users so that a server dedicated to one is not accessible by the other. Alternatively, depending on roles, some users may be able to access more sensitive data than others. This means that if an attacker compromises one user’s credentials, the whole network is not open to perusal. 

Zero Trust Network Architecture

Part of designing a zero trust network is creating architecture that integrates strong security policies.

  • Device Health and Identity: Ensure your solution has a way to verify the identity of devices. Often, this can be done by pattern recognition, and if the pattern is unusual, you will receive an alert.
  • Context-Aware Access Policies: Sometimes, you will need your access control to block or allow access depending on certain conditions. For example, if an employee properly authenticates but has attempted to connect using an unfamiliar device, your ZTNA solution needs to be able to determine whether the connection will be secure. This could mean analyzing the device or its location, the security of the Wi-Fi used to connect, or other factors that may or may not comply with your security policies.
  • Microsegmentation: This practice divides your network so that you can limit traffic and access based on assigned roles. Microsegmentation works the same way but is more specific, which gives you more control and further improves your security posture. 
  • Multi Factor Authentication: All users should have MFA set up as it reduces malicious actors’ ability to access your network with employee credentials.

Benefits of Zero Trust Network

Offering enhanced security, a reduced attack surface, and improved user experience, a zero trust network helps to mitigate the challenges created by cloud-based infrastructure and remote work. Zero trust helps to keep attackers out while monitoring activity and alerting you when one slips through.

This facilitates faster responding, which consistently leads to better recovery times and overall outcomes for organizations.

Investing in zero trust architecture improves the security of remote connections, reducing the number of potential attack vectors without the bandwidth issues that can occur with VPNs. All of these security benefits are useful on their own, but as compliance regulations become more stringent, your organization may find that zero trust networks also improve your compliance.

Challenges and Considerations

ZTNA may not be the best solution for everyone… 

  • Legacy systems don’t always integrate correctly, which can create more vulnerabilities. Alternatively, the ZTNA solution may not be compatible with legacy systems at all. 
  • Zero trust networks require significant user acceptance and training, and it’s not always easy to get employee buy-in. Authentication requirements can be cumbersome, especially if they require multiple devices, and employees may be opposed to the extra steps required to access the network. 
  • Overhauling access control policies and ensuring that all roles are up-to-date can be time-consuming.

Design a Secure Zero Trust Network with Perimeter81

Zero trust networks may not be a perfect solution to all security issues, but they are a great way to combat unauthorized access to resources and your network, which is a major concern for companies that use cloud resources. 

Especially if you have a remote workforce, consider establishing a zero trust environment or using a ZTNA solution like Perimeter81’s to reduce your attack surface and improve your security and incident response times.

Contact us today to learn more. 


What are the disadvantages of ZTNA?
Zero trust network access (ZTNA) solutions are highly effective, but they can be complex to establish and maintain. The strict authentication requirements can sometimes frustrate users.
Is ZTNA worth it?
For many companies, ZTNA is an effective, secure solution that reduces the risk of unauthorized access. 
What is zero trust network for dummies?
A zero trust network uses access control policies and authentication to make sure that no one can access the network without a confirmed identity and well-secured device. 
What is the main goal of zero trust?
Zero trust aims to eliminate default permissions, requiring all users to authenticate their credentials before they can access the network. 
Do you need firewalls with zero trust?
A zero trust environment does still benefit from firewalls, but an integrated ZTNA solution may come with a firewall as part of its service offerings.

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