SANS Report: Navigating Towards Zero Trust Maturity

Key Takeaways from the SANS 2022 Report Moving to a State of Zero Trust

Zero Trust is much more than a hot buzzword in cybersecurity. From emerging regulation and policy to the latest analyst reports, it’s clear that Zero Trust is the standard for organizations aiming to achieve cybersecurity maturity and stay a step ahead of malicious players. 

The recent SANS 2022 Report: Moving to a State of Zero Trust is meant to help IT and security professionals in every step of their journey towards Zero Trust maturity: from beginning conversations with stakeholders, to evaluating the current state of Zero Trust implementation in an organization – such as Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA)

We’ve put together a quick list of top takeaways from the SANS whitepaper, to help organizations integrate Zero Trust Architecture (ZTA), and ensure the right processes and technologies are in place to address the rapidly evolving threat landscape. 

Top Three Takeaways from the SANS Report on Zero Trust

#1 Why are organizations facing more cybersecurity challenges than ever?

Over the past three years, corporate environments have undergone a number of dramatic shifts. The once easily gated and defined perimeter of a company’s tech stack has expanded by leaps and bounds, and become exponentially more complex. 

The popularity of public cloud technologies and services has been growing steadily, along with a large increase in the adoption of cloud-based Software as a Service (SaaS) applications that organizations rely on. These shifts have created an ever-growing tech environment that extends far beyond a physical location. 

Speaking of physical locations, the move towards hybrid and virtual offices is another change that’s had a major impact on today’s workforce, becoming remote, mobile, and global since the start of the pandemic. Today’s workers must have the ability to securely connect from anywhere, at any time, from any number of devices and services. 

Then there’s the sharp rise in the number of externally facing applications that organizations are using. As more public-facing technologies are put to use, organizations’ attack surfaces grow, providing malicious actors with increasingly wide threat vectors to pass through. 

#2 How does ZTA provide more security than traditional VPNs?

Each of the changes we’ve covered requires IT, DevOps, and security professionals to go back to the drawing board and address the new and emerging cybersecurity challenges that today’s tech stack presents. The on-prem security solutions that were considered mostly adequate are no longer enough. 

Legacy VPNs, for example, can no longer support the expanding and dynamic perimeters. Until a few years ago, traditional VPNs addressed most of the cybersecurity needs required for remote network connections via encrypted access to on-premises resources. Today’s remote workforce and complex multi-layered systems require cybersecurity measures that traditional VPNs don’t provide. VPNs fall short since they don’t support the Zero Trust principle of least privilege, provide device posture check protections, support context-based access rules, or enable obfuscation of external IP addresses. 

This is where ZTA comes in – a security model based on the principles of least privilege and continuous evaluation for every attempt to access an organization’s systems. It helps ensure that users are only granted access to the data and applications they need, with granular controls put in place to ensure no sensitive data or surfaces are exposed. 

When defining Zero Trust access rules, it’s important to cover as many bases as possible – and today’s most advanced Zero Trust solutions allow system administrators to set a wide variety of security rules per device. Device Posture Check (DPC) is a feature that enables setting up permissions based on a variety of criteria like operating system, anti-virus software, encryption, and more for each and every device attempting to connect to the network. 

#3 What are the critical steps of Zero Trust?

It’s important to remember that implementing Zero Trust Architecture (ZTA) includes a lot of moving parts. There are a number of critical steps that organizations shifting into Zero Trust should implement: 

  • Identify and inventory all enterprise resources and credentials: This should include the resources requesting access, and the resources to which access is being requested. A strong Zero Trust solution enables quick and easy onboarding of all resources, users, and apps, and provides a clear and intuitive UI to view and manage them. 
  • Segment the network and Determine least privilege access policies: A Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA) solution should enable granular network segmentation and access rules. This ensures users only have access to the resources they need, minimizing the threat of lateral movement should threat actors obtain login credentials.
  • Establish where those policies are implemented: An effective ZTA solution covers cloud-based resources. It should be delivered from the cloud – not from a single physical location, to avoid network bottlenecks and ensure high-performance connectivity.
  • Control how those policies are maintained throughout each session: Advanced Zero Trust DPC capabilities enable continuous verification of device policy compliance, from login throughout the session until the session is complete. 

Shifting to Zero Trust

As the cyber threat landscape continues to evolve, organizations great and small, across all industries, are looking for ways to move further on their journey towards ZTA. Once stakeholders put together a solid strategy for implementing Zero Trust across the organization, it’s important to find the right technology to keep the bad guys out of their tech stack, and to simplify secure user access in a hybrid environment. 

Perimeter 81’s enterprise-grade cloud-based ZTNA solution helps organizations throughout their ZTA journey from Device Posture Check to the obfuscation of sensitive resources. It’s easy to deploy, onboard, and manage, allowing teams to quickly integrate and scale ZTA across the organization. It provides the visibility and control organizations need to remain secure and compliant without slowing down. 

Want to see how it works? Book a demo with Perimeter 81 today to see Zero Trust Network Access in action.