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Zero Trust Principles: What is Zero Trust Model?

  • Edward Nick 
Zero Trust Security Model. Secured Network.
3D illustration of a blue network with icons and the text zero trust written on the front. Black background. Concept of secured network.

The central principle of the Zero Trust model is based on the authentication and verification of every device connecting to the network before they are trusted.

Former Forrester analyst and veteran of the high-technology world, John Kindervag, who has been actively part of a wide array of network technology projects, coined the term “Zero Trust” to emphasize the need to eliminate blind ‘trust’ for a solid network.

In an interview on his goal to make Zero Trust easy to implement, Kindervag emphasized that the security model “is a strategy and not a product, and no standard should be built around it.” After exiting Forrester, he has taken up a new position in ON2IT Cybersecurity.

Zero Trust was conceived to fit into the business model of organizations that operate their own in-house data storage and network capabilities. However, it appears that a 2004 de-perimeterization concept by the Jericho Forum gave birth to many of the notions expressed in the security model.

The term de-perimeterization, given by Wikipedia, means protecting an organization’s data and systems on various levels by mixing data-level authentication, encryption, secure computer systems, and secure computer protocols instead of an organization depending solely on its network borderline to the internet.

Zero Trust architecture creates layered security through consistent re-authentication and validation requirements for all users, devices, and activities existing within the perimeter or not.

Zero Trust Security Model: Why It Is Important To Business

With the sophistication of modern cyber threats and attacks, traditional security models can no longer be relied on for efficient security solutions. Ransomware attacks occur very frequently today; taking advantage of weak authentication and access features are common infection vectors. These threat actors are both within and without organizations. However, Zero Trust treats them all similarly without reserved trust for anyone or anything. It detects and blocks potential attacks using a wide array of techniques which includes:

Least Privilege Controls

More than half of organizations in the United States have been faced with the issue of theft of privileged user credentials, which can be leveraged to obtain sensitive information. The Zero Trust least privilege principle states that applications, users, and others should have the most miniature set of privileges needed to carry out job functions.

Solid Network Security and Suppressed Attack Surface

The Zero Trust model has been shown to bolster network security by reducing vulnerabilities significantly within the network. Services, applications, and users are blocked out of the network each time they have to establish a connection until they have been duly verified.

Zero Trust reduces the attack surface and strengthens the overall network security as an ongoing security strategy. It also lessens data risk breaches as every validation process is carried out to determine if ‘trust’ should be granted or not.

Zero Trust supports a cleaner security model by reducing potential risks and uncovering malicious activities such as abuse of privileged accounts like a keylogger, credential theft, and phishing emails before they wreak havoc on the network.


Since it is unlikely that data breaches occur, this also helps save costs from a cyberattack after-effect, reduces the need for updating security solutions, and reduces IT teams’ workload.

The Main Principles of a Zero Trust Network

Within the concept of “no trust, verify all,” practices and technologies that foster the Zero Trust approach are numerous. However, some of the Zero Trust key principles are:

1. Data usage controls restrict what people can achieve with data once access is provided. The controls can be dynamically attained; for instance, permissions can be voided when trying to copy already-downloaded data from an email, USB disk, or cloud apps.

2. Least privilege access indicates that each user is only privileged to access the information they need per time, reducing the possibility of malware being transported across systems and networks.

3. Continuous monitoring critically observed how entities and users communicate with data and other systems across the network. With this process, organization administrators can verify that people or deuces with access are genuinely who they claim to be and activates risk-adaptive security controls to channel efficiency based on users’ activities.

4. Micro-segmentation breaks up the network into segments with multiple access credentials. The segmentation process keeps cyber thugs from carrying out nefarious activities, increasing protection. So, even a single breach would trigger security actions on the network.

5. Multi-Factor Authentication is a method of securing access to an account through multiple levels of identification. After inputting your regular password to access, you’ll also require to input a code via an app on your mobile device.