Skip to main content

Zero Trust and the Age of Global Connectivity

Global connectivity is omnipresent when it comes to smart phones and tablets.  It's not so much a case of looking for a power adapter when on the road, it's constantly about 3G and 4G signal strength or availability of contract hotspot wifi services.  However, global connectivity has also had a profound impact on enterprises.  There is no longer a rudimentary partitioning of network infrastructure into
public and private areas.  The firewalls of old have been replaced by application firewalls, data loss prevention operations and advanced tracing, tracking and event monitoring.  The internal 'trusted' network no longer exists.  Employees often pose the biggest threat to information assets, even though they are trusted with legitimate accounts on protected internal machines.

Zero Trust as a New Model

Zero Trust is a recent security approach that looks to move away from network segmentation and focus more on data and resources and who can access them, when and from where.  This helps to remove the antiquated approach of being on trusted grounds, which often helps create a singularity point which malware and hackers can focus upon.  By defining more context around individual information assets or services, allows for the opening up of those resources to globally connected devices, whilst securing access based on the who, where and why and not just their network location.  Access is permitted on the traditional 'need to know' basis, whilst being under continual review.  This would require all access to start from a minimal (if none-existent) level, whilst every connection being tracked and monitored.

Internet of Things & Modern Connectivity

I wrote recently of Protection & The Internet of Things and how, with the proliferation of previously 'dumb' devices enriching the Internet, comes a need for increased security context and reliance on the identity of things.  By extending a 'zero trust' model to this brave new world of increased interconnectedness, we can start to see the benefits of things like personalised search results, personalised home and environment settings, dynamic ordering and choice removal.  All devices, services and assets should start from a place of zeroaccess, with trust relations being built between identities and data which the devices can help bridge and create connections.

Zero Trust or Zero Protection?

But should the assumption be of zero trust or zero protection?  Many penetration testing organisations and web security auditors, promote the message that an organisation will be hacked at some point, so it's advisable to put in place recovery plans.  By focusing simply on prevention, an organisation can be opened up to irreversible damage if a breach were to occur.  So, do we take that approach to all services, devices and identities?  Perhaps.  With the increased level of services, API's, identity providers and data being created and consumed, existing models for security relationships are open to many potential failures that could impact the Confidentiality, Integrity and Availability paradigm of traditional security.  Do we follow a zero trust model or simply say, well my phone will be hacked at some point, so I will not rely on it so explicitly?  Time will tell.

By Simon Moffatt







Popular posts from this blog

2020: Machine Learning, Post Quantum Crypto & Zero Trust

Welcome to a digital identity project in 2020! You'll be expected to have a plan for post-quantum cryptography.  Your network will be littered with "zero trust" buzz words, that will make you suspect everyone, everything and every transaction.  Add to that, “machines” will be learning everything, from how you like your coffee, through to every network, authentication and authorisation decision. OK, are you ready?

Machine Learning I'm not going to do an entire blog on machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI).  Firstly I'm not qualified enough on the topic and secondly I want to focus on the security implications.  Needless to say, within 3 years, most organisations will have relatively experienced teams who are handling big data capture from an and identity, access management and network perspective.

That data will be being fed into ML platforms, either on-premise, or via cloud services.  Leveraging either structured or unstructured learning, data fr…

Customer Data: Convenience versus Security

Organisations in both the public and private sector are initiating programmes of work to convert previously physical or offline services, into more digital, on line and automated offerings.  This could include things like automated car tax purchase, through to insurance policy management and electricity meter reading submission and reporting.

Digitization versus Security

This move towards a more on line user experience, brings together several differing forces.  Firstly the driver for end user convenience and service improvement, against the requirements of data security and privacy.  Which should win?  There clearly needs to be a balance of security against service improvement.  Excessive and prohibitive security controls would result in a complex and often poor user experience, ultimately resulting in fewer users.  On the other hand, poorly defined security architectures, lead to data loss, with the impact for personal exposure and brand damage.

Top 5 Security Predictions for 2016

It's that time of year again, when the retrospective and predictive blogs come out of the closet, just before the Christmas festivities begin.  This time last year, the 2015 predictions were an interesting selection of both consumer and enterprise challenges, with a focus on:


Customer Identity ManagementThe start of IoT security awarenessReduced Passwords on MobileConsumer PrivacyCloud Single Sign On
In retrospect, a pretty accurate and ongoing list.  Consumer related identity (cIAM) is hot on most organisation's lips, and whilst the password hasn't died (and probably never will) there are more people using things like swipe login and finger print authentication than ever before.

But what will 2016 bring?


Mobile Payments to be Default for Consumers

2015 has seen the rise in things like Apple Pay and Samsung Pay hitting the consumer high street with venom.  Many retail outlets now provide the ability to "tap and pay" using a mobile device, with many banks also offer…