In our modern world, cloud services have become indispensable for most businesses as cloud infrastructures, data storage, or SaaS applications offer cost-effective and scalable services to them. These services diminish the requirement to build and maintain on-premise infrastructure to host an application or store data. Although cloud services offer many benefits, cloud usage brings a whole new set of security risks along.
Additionally, over the past several years, cloud security has become one of the main concerns of IT professionals, and digital businesses that use multiple SaaS services, cloud infrastructures, and private applications. When businesses use public cloud, private cloud data centers, or SaaS applications, they need to implement cloud adaptable, modern security solutions that will improve security in these environments.
In this regard, Zero Trust Network Access is a cloud adaptable security solution that can enforce all necessary security measures, and policies across the cloud environments and safeguard corporate network perimeter. Zero Trust model in the cloud enables greater control and visibility in these environments. Additionally, Zero Trust mitigates the security risks associated with these services. Before explaining how Zero Trust establishes security in the cloud further, let’s see in detail what is Zero Trust Network Access.
What Is Zero Trust Network Access?
The Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA) framework has been around since 2009. But, the concept of Zero Trust was first coined by Stephen Paul Marsh in his doctoral thesis in computer science back in the 90s. Marsh studied trust as a concept that can be measured mathematically. Almost two decades later, Zero Trust architecture was fully developed, and in 2010 analyst John Kindervag coined the term Zero Trust to point out a more rigid cybersecurity course and identity access controls within the organizations. So, the implicit trust given to the users, applications, and devices is removed from all computing systems.
The Zero Trust model is grounded on the mantra “trust none, verify all”, that’s why under this framework all users, devices, and applications have to authenticate their identities prior they are permitted access to the resources they need whether these are located in on-premise or cloud infrastructures. This framework employs multi-factor authentication (MFA), biometrics, and single sign-on (SSO) tools to authenticate each entity’s credentials and identity. So, it guarantees that solely authorized entities can access corporate networks and resources.
Additionally, Zero Trust is based on the least privilege principle that gives users, devices, and applications limited access in the network perimeter. In essence, this principle helps Zero Trust to enforce rigid access control for all entities that reach corporate networks and resources. Core strategies of Zero Trust aim to limit the surface areas that users, devices, and applications can reach.
With a network segmentation strategy, Zero Trust creates multiple checkpoints in the corporate networks. This way, it hides and safeguards sensitive segments from others by enforcing rigid access control and putting boundaries between subsegments. On top of these, it inspects and logs complete network traffic and only allows legitimate application communication.
By implementing Zero Trust architecture, businesses can monitor all network traffic and have greater visibility of user behaviors. This means IT admins will be alert if there is an unusual or suspicious user behavior inside the network perimeter. Additionally, Zero Trust employs strict lateral movement policies that basically prohibit users from laterally moving or roaming inside the network perimeter. If a user, device, or application tries to move laterally, IT admins will be alerted and this entity will be struck in the subsegment until it is isolated.
With the Zero Trust framework, all potential cyber-attack surfaces are minimized and it allows rapid response to attacks. As of 2022, most companies acknowledge the importance of implementing the Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA) solution to establish enhanced security across every corporate asset. Now, let’s explain how Zero Trust improves cloud security.
How Zero Trust Improves Cloud Security?
When considering the vast majority of corporate data, applications, and networks are hosted or stored through the cloud, it is vital to secure these environments. With legacy technologies, businesses can’t establish overall security in cloud environments. That’s why software-based cloud adaptable security solutions and measures are needed.
Generally, cloud environments are operated by cloud service providers and SaaS vendors. These third-party entities aren’t part of the organization, and cloud environments are essentially different than traditional networks and they constantly evolve and change over time. Security solutions like Zero Trust Network Access can keep up with the security requirements of the continually evolving cloud environments.
Zero Trust enables secure access gateways for users, devices, and applications to reach data that is stored in public and private cloud data centers. Before reaching cloud data, resources, or applications, all users have to authenticate their identities. With layered authentication processes, Zero Trust ensures the security of users’ credentials. On top of these, Zero Trust inspects and logs all traffic inside the cloud environments and enforces access controls across cloud assets. Enabling wider visibility and monitoring over network traffic is a critical factor for establishing complete cloud security.
Additionally, users can access cloud resources regardless of their locations. But, the Zero Trust model in the cloud offers businesses to apply geofence by location or IP allowlist (whitelist) options regarding access to cloud data, resources, or applications. Meaning users and their devices can be matched with their home IP addresses and locations. These options can be used for enabling more stricter control over network access. Lastly, Zero Trust and cloud security work perfectly when Zero Trust’s core strategies and principles are applied to these environments.
In today’s world, most businesses use several clouds and SaaS services to store data and host applications without building and maintaining on-premise infrastructures. Cloud services and SaaS applications are indeed cost-effective and scalable. But, in recent years, concerns about cloud security have increased drastically. These cloud environments can’t be secured with legacy technologies. That’s why cloud adaptable and software-based security solutions, especially Zero Trust Network Access can help businesses to establish and maintain complete cloud security.