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Learn Zero Trust Principles and Strategy: CSA’s Zero Trust Training Program

Learn Zero Trust Principles and Strategy: CSA’s Zero Trust Training Program

Blog Article Published: 08/28/2023

Written by Noelle Sheck, Communications Coordinator, CSA.

We first heard the rumblings of Zero Trust (ZT) in the early 2000s, but only in the last few years has it truly taken off and entered the cybersecurity zeitgeist. CSA’s Zero Trust Training (ZTT) series will give you the knowledge and skills necessary to actually implement a ZT strategy and reduce systemic risk. After you complete the training, you will have the background needed to pass the Certificate of Competence in Zero Trust (CCZT) exam and earn your CCZT, the industry’s first authoritative Zero Trust certificate.

In this comprehensive blog post, we'll cover some key principles and concepts from the five training modules, as well as two bonus modules that are available separately.

Introduction to Zero Trust Architecture

What is Zero Trust Architecture (ZTA)?

At its core, Zero Trust Architecture (ZTA) is a model that operates on the principle of "never trust, always verify." Instead of relying on traditional perimeter-based security models, ZTA focuses on creating virtual enclaves that grant access to resources only after rigorous verification. This inside-out approach transforms security design, ensuring every transaction is thoroughly vetted. With ZTA, the emphasis shifts from granting access based on network location to basing it on user identity, device health, and other contextual factors.

Introduction to Software-Defined Perimeter

What is Software Defined Perimeter (SDP)?

Software-Defined Perimeter (SDP) is a network security architecture that aligns closely with ZT principles. Unlike the traditional network model, SDP spans all layers of the OSI model, making it a comprehensive security solution. It achieves this through a unique approach where assets are concealed until a single packet exchange establishes trust through a dedicated control and data plane. Over time, the convergence of ZT and SDP concepts has led to the recognition of SDP as an implementation option of a ZTA.

Zero Trust Strategy

What are the elements of a ZT strategy?

To get started defining your Zero Trust strategy, you may wish to ask the following questions:

  • What are the primary catalysts and business drivers supporting the adoption of ZT in our organization?
  • How does our current security posture align with common attack vectors, especially in the context of our ZT pillars?
  • How can we develop a more efficient and effective security and privacy strategy under ZT principles?
  • Are all privileged accounts secured with FIDO2 or equivalent MFA, or are privileged access workstations necessary?
  • To what extent are personal devices allowed access to organizational data?
  • Are our development teams aligning software testing with ZT standards?

Zero Trust Planning

What are the main considerations when planning ZT?

Implementing ZT requires meticulous planning. Considerations include:

  • Identifying stakeholders and involving them.
  • Formulating a technology strategy aligned with ZTA.
  • Analyzing the business impact through a Business Impact Analysis (BIA).
  • Maintaining a risk register to address vulnerabilities.
  • Managing supply chain risks to prevent potential breaches.
  • Aligning with organizational security policies.
  • Exploring architecture options and complying with requirements.
  • Ensuring workforce training for seamless adoption.

Zero Trust Implementation

What are the main ZT project implementation preparatory activities?

Before embarking on a ZTA project, preparatory activities include:

  • Defining project deliverables to set clear expectations.
  • Effectively communicating ZTA changes to users for a smooth transition.
  • Creating an implementation checklist to track progress and ensure thorough execution.

Bonus Module: Key Features & Technologies of Software-Defined Perimeter

What key issues with traditional architectures are addressed by SDP?

Traditional architectures have long grappled with challenges such as complex security integration, shifting perimeters, and IP address vulnerabilities. SDP addresses these concerns by employing specialized security controls, such as micro-segmentation, drop-all firewalls, and single packet authorization. These controls mitigate the risks associated with the connect-first-authenticate-later approach of traditional models. Moreover, SDP can replace or augment VPNs for remote access, providing a more secure method.

Bonus Module: Architectures & Components of Software-Defined Perimeter

What are the key SDP architecture components?

The core components of SDP play a pivotal role in its functionality. The key SDP architecture components are:

  • Initiating host (IH) - The IH commonly consists of an agent running on an accessing entity.
  • Controller - The controller acts as a policy definition, verification, and decision mechanism that maintains information about which identities (e.g., users, groups) from which devices should be granted access to an organization’s resources.
  • Accepting host (AH) - The AH is a logical SDP component that fronts applications, services, and resources accessed and protected by the SDP.
  • Gateway/resource - A gateway is employed if one or more servers require isolation and stronger access controls for their protected services. Gateways ensure that only authorized users and devices can access protected resources and that all other traffic is dropped.

In conclusion, Zero Trust Architecture is a paradigm shift in cybersecurity that emphasizes identity-based access over traditional perimeter models. Software-Defined Perimeter, as a manifestation of ZTA principles, provides a comprehensive security solution addressing the challenges of traditional architectures. By diligently planning and executing ZTA initiatives, organizations can usher in a new era of robust and adaptive security that safeguards their digital assets against modern threats.

Thoroughly explore all of these modules by taking CSA’s self-paced Zero Trust Training (ZTT) and earning your Certificate of Competence in Zero Trust (CCZT).

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