The most recent concept that has enhanced user interactions with networks and with one another is the zero-trust framework. Although the applications of this framework are extensive, it presents a different angle at network security. Let’s comprehend the basics and practicalities of the framework and assess the use of blockchain as an enabler.
The Traditional Security Model
In an organization’s perimeter, traditional security approaches are initially designed for the optimum protection of that organization. Before one could get in, verification for trust had to be conducted. In fact, there were no requirements for further checks. For instance, the traditional network security is like a castle with a moat. The moat is similar to a system that prevents the bad guys from getting into the castle. As long as someone is trusted, we let them into the castle.
So What Is Wrong With This Traditional Model?
Truly, most people assume that everything within the network of an organization is trustworthy. However, this assumption is very outdated. After all, this era is plagued by a series of threats, sophisticated attacks and several methods to connect with networks. Data, applications, devices and users are gradually exceeding the control center of organizations. Thus, the compatibility of new-age business models and the complex traditional models is tending toward zero. Simply put, the devices, applications and users are moving outside and have become a source of destruction for the once trusted organizational perimeter.
In the traditional castle-and-moat model, there are many possibilities. One such example is when a malicious user is within the perimeter. The question is what happens to such a user within the castle? Because the user is within the network already, they are considered to be tested and trusted. Consequently, this authenticated user runs an operation that is unauthorized. This movement is known as a “lateral movement.”
Attackers mostly use the lateral movement to maneuver a network when they seek the raw treasure of data in organizations. Surprisingly, the point of infiltration is usually not found at the target location. For instance, infiltration at the endpoint means that the attacker needs to circumvent a network in a lateral movement to reach the targeted database. Several years ago, Target witnessed a cyberattack. What the hackers did was to compromise the company’s HVAC vendor. Ultimately, they stole the personal information and payment of Target’s customers. This shows that the hackers could breach the perimeter and enter the network to wreak havoc.
The Zero-Trust Framework
With this technology, every service in the perimeter is validated without selective trust. A simple analogy is guards at the entrance of a building. The traditional model is to mount guards at the gate who will keep out infiltrators, but the zero-trust framework mounts guards at the entrance of every door in the building to checkmate threats. The framework upholds the “verify and never trust” principle. This has led to the elimination of trusted users or applications. Therefore, the security runs deep into the DNA of the network.
This “verify and never trust” model is used by companies to prevent threats or filter them out of their system. No matter where the request comes from, the zero-trust framework is designed in such a way to provide enhanced access to services. However, there may be different rights to authorization for individual networks in each origin. To eliminate this, the minimization of pathways to the resources is done. As a result of this, verification upon access is mandatory.
The Role Of Blockchain In Enhancing The Security Of The Zero-Trust Frameworks
The effect of blockchain on cybersecurity has grown considerably. Even though the effects are minimal, the future will witness a drastic change in blockchain security mechanisms. Access management, user authentication and transaction security are three arms of security that blockchain will put in place. For instance, imagine a current employee who tries to access a system in the workplace. Blockchain technology is expected to recognize them (especially if they just logged in), authenticate their trust and allow them access. Alternatively, a new contractor working on a project that tries to access the same system is denied access by the system. This is because the ledger has detected that the user has not engaged with the system or the device in the past. This also happens when they try to access the network from an unidentified location.
Due to its prowess in enhancing cybersecurity, several organizations can sufficiently boost their security network by leveraging a distributed ledger technology (DLT). Using a distributed network of computers, the ledger is subsequently shared among a group of participants. The “highly accessible” system is also transparent and visible to the participants. For this reason, most businesses or organizations run a corporately visible blockchain. Therefore, every transaction in the organization is visible to restricted operators.
The implementation of a zero-trust policy can be secured further by a blockchain due to its sheer immutable nature. In summary, the mechanism of blockchain in the zero-security frameworks includes:
- Detection of suspicion in some online transactions.
- Isolation of connection.
- Restriction of access to the user until a security team or system administrator sanctions the transactions.
Best Practices For Achieving A Zero-Trust Framework
Blockchain isn’t the only way to set up a zero-trust framework. Zero trust can also be achieved via any system or platform that adheres to these basic principles:
- Always use strong multifactor authentication methods. (HOTP / TOTP as an example).
- Validate and verify the authenticity of a device on every access attempt.
- Enable least-privilege access mechanisms across all your IT infrastructure.
- Enable privileged access management (PAM) for sensitive applications.
- Ensure that all systems have the latest security patches, and always keep them up to date.
- Conduct continuous monitoring and vulnerability assessments.
In the present risk scene, the well-financed and incredibly skilled cybercriminals are continually attempting to take crucial data from organizations. Where the present security approaches neglect to ensure the safety of digital assets, zero trust can help keep your systems and assets secure.