Following on from a 4-part webinar series, Jonathan Payne, EMEA Solutions Architect at ColorTokens Inc. explains the principles and importance of Zero Trust architecture
Can you tell us about ColorTokens’ work in the cybersecurity space?
The cybersecurity landscape is a complex and dynamic one. As we unlock the potential in new and innovative technologies, threat actors are constantly seeking to take advantage of network security design flaws. In the face of this ever-changing threat landscape, the work ColorTokens does has one simple aim: to protect businesses from cyberattack. Cyber attackers are getting bolder with every breach. Dynamic data centres, distributed workloads, vulnerable endpoints and a complex application landscape all have the potential to expose our networks, and cyber criminals are ready and waiting to take advantage. This is why ColorTokens champions Zero Trust; a cybersecurity concept designed to secure businesses from threats inside and outside the network.
What is Zero Trust architecture and how was it developed?
Zero Trust architecture is very quickly emerging as best-practice in cybersecurity [Part one of our webinar series on Zero Trust 101]. It’s imperative that IT managers and the C-suite understand what is still a relatively new security concept that is revolutionising enterprise network safety. The premise is simple: give no implicit trust. We can no longer rely on a perimeter firewall to ensure the integrity of our networks and systems. Our workforce is no longer confined to four walls, and cybersecurity can’t be either. The goal of Zero Trust is, therefore, to prevent unauthorised access to data and services, and in doing so, to make access control enforcement as granular as possible. This means ensuring that employees or third parties are only granted access to the parts of the network they need, when they need them.
Could Zero Trust be classed as a product?
Zero Trust is not a product, but rather, a security ethos that requires the utilisation of various cybersecurity tools to create a Zero Trust state. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), a physical sciences laboratory and non-regulatory agency in the USA, has developed the NIST 800-207 framework, to which ColorTokens is very much aligned. The framework describes the seven tenets of Zero Trust, to which organisations should adhere in order to maximise cyber resilience. A state of Zero Trust can only be established when an organisation first has knowledge of its assets. It’s important to have an understanding of who and what is accessing those assets (the known good); to reduce access to a minimum; to make policies dynamic and granular; and to move control of assets closer to the assets themselves, stopping unnecessary lateral network movement.
What are the principal drivers of Zero Trust adoption?
Interest in Zero Trust architecture has soared since the COVID-19 pandemic forced many businesses to offer more flexible and remote working options. But while COVID-19 was a clear driver for increased adoption, it wasn’t the reason for Zero Trust’s initial development. Within centralised office-based environments, businesses often used perimeter firewalls to ensure the security of their networks. But as we have shifted to a more distributed workforce, particularly in response to COVID-19 restrictions, businesses have been adopting cloud technologies and hosting data in data centres. These changes to our working culture had a severe impact on security, rendering the traditional firewall less effective. Zero Trust architecture has quickly become the gold standard for security teams in meeting these new requirements. As cybersecurity experts, we are always seeking new ways to improve security measures and stay one step ahead of threat actors.
Can you explain why Visualisation is so important?
The premise behind Visualisation within a Zero Trust architecture [Part two of our webinar series on Zero Trust 101] is a simple one; you can’t protect what you can’t see. This means that businesses must develop, or visualise, a clear picture of their assets, starting with their most important ‘crown jewels’. Understanding where they sit on a network means we can help businesses put the strongest measures in place to protect them. The latest NIST guidance has changed how we achieve this protection. Traditionally, in order to ring fence our crown jewels we would focus on monitoring and preventing external threats from entering the network. However, the NIST 800-207 framework highlights that this is no longer enough, identifying that 80% of data traffic on a network is internal. This means that a threat could already be in the network, yet only 10% of this traffic is monitored. Many businesses have little visibility as to what is happening on their networks, so we need to prevent that internal flow of data traffic to high-risk areas.
What is Segmentation and what are its main challenges?
Segmentation is the principle of establishing the smallest possible trust zone around our pre-established crown jewels [Part three of our webinar series on Zero Trust 101]. We only want to allow known, good access to our crown jewels and must block everything else. That includes connections already inside the network that traditionally could move laterally between departments or segments. If a user doesn’t need to have access to certain network areas, we need to restrict this to ensure that if systems have been compromised we aren’t letting the threat anywhere near our critical assets. When implementing Zero Trust architecture we need to avoid network downtime. By separating the relationship between network and security, we can ensure we do no harm when updating policies by employing thorough testing.
Can you tell us about your latest product launch?
We’ve recently announced the launch of our new Xaccess solution and we’re incredibly excited about its potential. It is a Security-as-a-service (SaaS) module within our Xtended ZeroTrust™ platform which allows customers to provide secure Zero Trust access for remote employees, third parties or contractors from distributed locations. We felt this was an important step in Zero Trust’s progression. Providing the right level of access is a common problem that most enterprises face. Xaccess not only allows our customers to define intelligent, user identity-based granular access, but also to handle more common and complex use cases such as enabling remote IT admins with deeper access specifications or session-based access needed for multi-user terminals. And as we’ve said before, the key to Zero Trust is about prevention rather than detection and response [Part four of our webinar series on Zero Trust 101].
Zero Trust 101 webinar series:
Part One – NIST Zero Trust Architecture
Part Two – Visualisation
Part Three – Segmentation
Part Four – Lockdown
With an integrated Zero Trust platform, ColorTokens makes organisations resilient to cyberthreats and is a strategic partner to Identity Methods. To get to Zero Trust with Identity Methods contact us: