Optiv Cybersecurity Dictionary

What is Zero Trust?

Zero Trust is an information security model based on the principle of maintaining strict access controls by not trusting anyone or any action by default, even those already inside the network perimeter. Each transaction is evaluated for need and risk. 


Zero Trust Strategy

Created in 2010 by John Kindervag (then a principal analyst at Forrester Research), Zero Trust Network (ZTN), or Zero Trust Architecture (ZTA), is centered on the belief that an organization shouldn’t automatically trust anything inside or outside its perimeters. Instead, it must verify anything and everything trying to connect to its environment before granting it access. In other words, all access to IP addresses, machines, etc. is cut off to any given user until the system can identify and authorize that user.  


Trust Architecture

The Zero Trust model combines network, application and data to support micro-perimeters within identity and access management (IAM) platforms, integrating identity, security controls and risk for real-time decision-making. It also includes all identities, specifically non-human entities like applications and devices.


Securing Network Access

The Zero Trust mindset is the antithesis of a hardened perimeter around unfettered internal access. The old ways of thinking (ivory tower and gatekeeper’s mentality) had organizations focused on a perimeter defense that assumed everything in the tower had permission and didn’t pose a threat. The “tower,” however, is no longer simple and siloed. Organizations don’t have corporate data centers serving a contained network of systems anymore. Instead, it’s a mix of on-premises and cloud networks with users (employees, customers and partners) – accessing all types of applications from various devices in multiple locations around the globe.


Implementing Zero Trust

Zero Trust relies on several technologies and governances, including microsegmentation and user-based granular perimeter enforcement (locations and other data), to determine whether to trust a user, machine or application seeking access to a particular part of the enterprise. For example: Who is Joe? Is it really him? What endpoint is he coming from, and is it secure? Moreover, should there be a rule around this access? Do we need to create a conditional policy around access to certain information? To do this, Zero Trust employs multi-factor authentication, IAM, orchestration, risk analytics, encryption, scoring and file system permissions. It also calls for governance policies such as “least privilege,” which affords users the least amount of access they need to accomplish a specific task. Finally, just-in-time access with policies drive the integration of identity, security and risk.

Zero Trust: Why It Matters


The idea of protecting the perimeter is dead. The “new now” of café-style networks, cloud adoption and exponential data growth makes any user or device a potential threat actor.     


Zero Trust solutions use identity as the core security control to protect networks, applications and data based on the concept of “never trust, always verify.” And for today’s enterprises, imparting the “assume breach” mindset is more prudent than ever.  


Conspicuous cyberattacks since late 2020 have spurred the White House Executive Order on “Improving the Nation’s Cybersecurity,” which mandates the modernization of procedures and tools relating to cybersecurity recommending a shift toward Zero Trust Architecture. 

The Solution to Zero Trust


Adopting a Zero Trust mindset and architecture helps: 


  • Prevent ransomware and insider threats
  • Secure your expanding, complex network, your hybrid users and proliferation of devices
  • Reduce security vulnerabilities as you move further into the cloud
  • Minimize your attack surface penetration, even as you add SaaS applications
  • Improve user experience through continuous authentication and authorization


Zero Trust is a journey, and Optiv is prepared to help you along that long and winding path. Ready to embark?


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