What is Zero Trust Security? Understand Security Mode, Benefits, Examples

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What is Zero Trust Security

Have you, too, been a target of cybercrime?

Since 2005, cyber attacks have been on the rise, and in 2022 alone, a staggering 1,802 cases were recorded in the US, impacting over 442 million people. Many businesses cannot maintain their security standards with the traditional security models, leading to distributed infrastructures and giving hackers access to breaches.

This lack of security measures cost businesses an average of $4.35 million in 2022.

Businesses today need a top-tier security system to guard their data against attacks and mitigate risks effectively. Zero Trust Security Model is the solution – where nothing is trusted; everything is verified!

Every connection, every user, and every device gets verified, and even those inside are constantly re-evaluated.

So, scroll down and get to know the Zero Trust security model, its significance, and how it redefines the security frameworks.

What is Zero Trust?

Imagine a bank where everyone, regardless of how familiar they seem, must show ID and scan their fingerprint to enter the lobby.

Similar to this, the tech-driven world relying on “inside” and “outside” walls for security isn’t enough. The cloud, remote work, and smart devices blur the lines.

That’s where Zero Trust comes in!

What is the Zero Trust Security Model?

It’s a security strategy where everyone and everything trying to access your computer network gets double-checked every time.

Zero trust follows the ideation saying, “Never trust, always verify.”

Every app, device, and user needs to be verified and monitored continuously. Think fingerprint scans and secret codes, not just passwords. No one gets full access, only what they need to do their job. Even encrypted traffic gets monitored.

This creates a web of trust built on constant checks and minimum access privileges, keeping your stuff safe from both outsiders and sneaky insiders. Your data and workflows stay secure in your office or across the cloud.

This approach is vital for:

  • Cloud and remote work: Security follows data and users anywhere, not just fixed networks.
  • Stopping insider threats: Even trusted employees can make mistakes or be compromised. Zero Trust minimizes damage.
  • Thwarting external attacks: Hackers can’t exploit weak points in one area to reach the whole system.

Zero Trust Rising Statistics

With cybersecurity attacks on the rise, the Zero Trust security model is rising rapidly!

As per reports, this advanced security model is expected to skyrocket from US$25.4 billion in 2021 to US$118.7 billion by 2032, mainly as it keeps data protection at the forefront.

And, this explosive growth isn’t just hype.

Around 75% of organizations recognize Zero Trust as a necessary element for their cyber defense.

Surprisingly, the US is leading the charge!

Several US companies like Ping Identity, IBM, Cisco, and Cloudflare are at the forefront of developing and implementing cutting-edge Zero Trust solutions.

How Does Zero Trust Work?

At the core of the Zero Trust Model is a focus on safeguarding data, recognizing it as the primary target for hackers. This incorporates:

  • Protected Health Information (PHI),
  • Personally Identifiable Data (PII),
  • Payment Card Information (PCI),
  • Intellectual property, and other valuable organizational data.

A key priority within Zero Trust is the implementation of data activity monitoring to enhance security measures.

Continuous Verification

Zero trust works through continuous verifications, i.e., no trusted zones, credentials, or devices at any time. It implies the saying “Never Trust, Always Verify” and continuously applies verification to a broad set of assets.

For effective results, it requires key elements to be in place.

  • Risk-based conditional access, which means that the security process only interrupts when there’s a change in risk, keeping continuous verification without bothering the user a lot.

The quick and scalable dynamic policy model deployment is about setting up security rules. As things like work tasks, data, and users move around a lot, the rules must consider risk and follow the organization’s rules and IT needs. Even with Zero Trust, organizations still need to meet their company’s rules and specific needs.

Limit the Blast Radius

Next, it limits the scope of credentials or access paths for a breacher, giving systems and individuals proper time to respond and mitigate the attack.

It uses identity-based segmentation to maintain changing workloads, users, data, and credentials.

It also incorporates the least privilege principle, which means that whenever the credentials are used, including for service accounts, these credentials must have access to the minimum capability required for performing a task.

As tasks change, so should the scope!

Automate Context Collection and Response

It also uses more data for effective and accurate decisions to process and act in real time.

For this, it requires:

  • User credentials of human and non-human (service accounts, non-privileged accounts, privileged accounts – including SSO credentials)
  • Network
  • Data
  • Workloads – including VMs, containers, and ones deployed in hybrid deployments
  • Endpoint – any device being used to access data

Other sources (typically via APIs) like SIEM, SSO, Identity providers (like AD), and Threat Intelligence.


Zero Trust networks also incorporate micro-segmentation, which involves dividing security perimeters into small zones to maintain separate access for different network parts.

For instance, a network with files in a data center may have numerous secure zones through microsegmentation. Access to one zone doesn’t grant access to others without separate authorization.

Multi-factor Authentication (MFA)

Multi-factor authentication (MFA) is a key aspect of Zero Trust security, requiring more than one piece of evidence to authenticate a user.

Recommended: What Is a Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)? Difference Between 2FA & MFA

For example, 2-factor authorization (2FA) on platforms like Facebook involves entering a password and a code sent to another device, adding an extra layer of authentication.

Importance & Benefits of Zero Trust Model

While no security strategy is perfect, zero trust is among today’s most effective strategies. Here is why:

Improved End-User Experience

During IT security, keeping track of data passwords is difficult. Not anymore! Zero Trust simplifies the end-user experience with Single Sign-On (SSO) tools, which unlocks everything with a single swipe.

It means no need for multiple passwords, organized infrastructure access, and improved overall usability. Thus, it makes things seamless for users.

Secure Remote Access Without VPN

Traditional VPN solutions, while common for enabling remote access, can pose security vulnerabilities and performance issues.

Zero Trust architecture provides a secure alternative, utilizing secure web gateways and secure access service edge (SASE) – ensuring robust security, strong authentication, and granular access controls without compromising performance.

Improved Monitoring and Alerting

Zero Trust has eagle-eyed guards patrolling your network, constantly sniffing suspicious activity. Further, it enhances the monitoring through tools like SIEM, automation, and AI-driven solutions. These resources analyze logs and events to detect and respond to cybersecurity threats rapidly.

Application and Data Security

Zero Trust architecture safeguards critical applications and sensitive data through strict access controls. Fine-grained authorization policies permit only authorized users and devices to access specific applications and data, reducing the risk of data breaches and unauthorized access for enhanced security.

Accurate Inventory of Infrastructure

Zero Trust requires administrators to know what and where exactly the users, data, devices, applications, and services are included in the infrastructure. This not only helps with security concerns but is also beneficial for further planning purposes.

Flexibility in Moving Apps, Data, and Services

It also accommodates changes in business goals by providing flexibility in moving applications, data, and services. Centralized management and automation tools simplify the migration of security policies, reducing the risk of vulnerabilities during transitions.

VDI Alternative

As an alternative to resource-intensive Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) solutions, Zero Trust architecture enables secure access to individual applications or data without needing a full virtual desktop. This approach enhances flexibility, scalability, and cost-effectiveness and ensures robust security measures.

Streamlined Security Policy Creation

Zero Trust streamlines security policy creation by adopting a universal approach. Rather than configuring individual tools independently, a universal policy can be created, eliminating vulnerabilities and ensuring consistency throughout the organization.

Protecting Insecure IoT Devices

The proliferation of IoT devices poses security challenges, but Zero Trust architecture addresses these concerns. It implements device-level authentication, access controls, and traffic encryption for IoT devices, treating them as untrusted entities by default. This approach minimizes vulnerabilities and reduces the risk of compromised systems through IoT devices.

Investment Against Data Loss

Considering the rising costs of data breaches, this security model is like an insurance policy against lost or stolen data. With breaches exceeding $4 million, investing in a Zero Trust cybersecurity framework is considered a worthwhile expenditure.

Real-life Examples of Zero Trust

Google’s BeyondCorp

Google built its own Zero Trust model within company personnel combined with ideas from user experiences. They listened to users and used their expertise to create the ZTNA technologies called BeyondCorp, a powerful system granting user access based on contextual factors, irrespective of the network they are accessing.

Here’s how it works:

  • When users sign up for Google services, they get a key that unlocks only the services they choose, such as a Drive or Docs key.
  • That key opens a secure tunnel, like a secret passage, leading only to their stuff. Unless they invite them, no one else can see their documents or spreadsheets.

So Google Zero Trust keeps the user’s stuff safe, sound, locked, and secured! Only you have the keys, and you can decide who gets to peek inside.

DZ Bank

DZ Bank is a leading German private bank (financial services organization) that took a big step towards better security by switching from a ‘perimeter approach’ to a Zero Trust model.

  • The new system segments the network by creating separate accounts for each customer. Even if cyber thieves break into one account, they can’t reach the others.
  • Customers get tighter control over their accounts, like having their own digital locks and keys.
  • The bank set up large-cloud environments, like secure online vaults, to store and protect customer data.

This Zero Trust move wasn’t easy due to its earlier infrastructure. Still, by setting up large-scale cloud environments, the bank’s service provider established Zero Trust Protection between the on-site environments, cloud environments, and end users.

Other Financial Institutions and Zero Trust

Banks and other financial organizations love their old-school “castle and moat” security, even though it is constantly being hacked!

Remember the Equifax breach in 2017? It’s a proven case of how the Zero trust model prevented the system from being segmented and authenticated for access.

As zero trust security wasn’t there, Hackers were able to exploit a flaw in the web design of the company’s customer complaint portal. Then, they moved onto the broader network and scope for sensitive data.

At that time, everyone understood the significance of the zero-trust approach.

All these real-world examples might help business owners see the value in updating to a new security model.

Best Practices for Zero Trust Security

  • Monitor Network Traffic and Connected Devices: Visibility and regular monitoring are essential for verifying and authenticating users and machines.
  • Keep Devices Updated: Any vulnerabilities should be patched as soon as possible, and zero-trust networks should be able to restrict access to vulnerable devices.
  • Use Security Keys for MFA: Hardware-based security tokens are more secure than soft tokens like one-time passcodes (OTPs) sent via SMS or email.
  • Partition the Network: Dividing the network into smaller chunks helps ensure breaches are contained early before they can spread. It simply means enabling micro-segmentation.
  • Act as if the Network Perimeter did not Exist: Forget pretending the outside world doesn’t exist. Unless a network is completely air-gapped (a rarity), the points where it touches the Internet or the cloud are probably too numerous to eliminate.
  • Apply the Principle of Least Privilege for Everyone in the Organization: From CEOs to executives to IT teams, everyone should get the least access they need. If one key falls into the wrong hands, the damage is limited.
  • Incorporate Threat Intelligence: As attackers are highly updated with the latest trends and tactics, incorporating the latest and upgraded threat intelligence data feeds is necessary to identify attackers before they strike.
  • Avoid Motivating End Users to Circumvent Security Measures: Just as strict password requirements allow users to recycle similar ones repeatedly, forcing users to re-authenticate once an hour can be too much. Always keep the end user’s needs in mind.

Types of Attacks You Can Prevent with Zero Trust Security Model

  • Phishing Attacks – By continual verification of user identities
  • Insider Threats – Implementing strict access controls and continuous monitoring.
  • Malware and Ransomware – Analyze device behavior and network activities.
  • Credential Theft – Implements multiple factor authentication (MFA) and limiting lateral movement within a network.
  • Data Exfiltration – Monitoring data access and unauthorized transmission
  • Denial of Service (DoS) Attacks – Managing network traffic like patterns resembling DoS attack
  • Zero-Day Exploits – By focusing on device and application behavior instead of relying on vulnerabilities.
  • Man-in-the-Middle Attacks – Encrypted communication and authenticates users involved in that communication.
  • IoT-Based Attacks – Strict controls on device-to-device communication while authenticating and authorizing each IoT device.
Janki Mehta

Janki Mehta

Janki Mehta is a passionate Cyber-Security Enthusiast who keenly monitors the latest developments in the Web/Cyber Security industry. She puts her knowledge into practice and helps web users by arming them with the necessary security measures to stay safe in the digital world.