A Data And User-Centric Approach To Zero Trust

A Data And User-Centric Approach To Zero Trust
A Data And User-Centric Approach To Zero Trust

A data-centric Zero Trust model verifies software identities of users who have access to a specific data asset, each of which might be stored, transmitted, or processed within the system.

In all its entirety, encryption continues to be the most dependable means of protecting stored data.

As a result, to apply the Zero Trust concept, you must ensure that only verified workloads with the correct identification receive a key to decode the inherent assets. Once decrypted, this workload can analyze the data and make APIs available for other workloads.

As a result, having uniform data access and API access authorizations is critical. This assists data controls and entry points, thereby monitoring every data source, its entry usage, and purposes.

How Is Zero Trust Enabling Modernization?

The premise is simple at its core: Zero Trust assumes everything is hostile. While this may seem self-evident, it goes against the corporate network security paradigm which entails being based on a centralized data centre and a protected network perimeter.

Companies have been using endpoint-based controls to establish access controls to validate applications, data, and users since the early 1990s.

There is an eternal reliance on pre-approved IP addresses, ports, and protocols to establish access controls, validate applications, data, and users, who are trusted to communicate within the network.

Users outside the secure perimeter use VPNs to get remote access to the internal network and are promoted to trusted sources as soon as they enter the perimeters, post validation.

Ineffective Perimeter Security Within a Growing Organization

The way firms do business and use digital technology is evolving rapidly. Digital transitions are being recorded based on traditional perimeter-based cybersecurity approaches.

Nevertheless, they are worthless and ineffective since the perimeters themselves do not clearly define the scope of security enforcement.

Using Technology to Transition to a Zero-Trust Environment

Businesses are adopting a data-centric security strategy to facilitate technological intervention by installing a ZTNA network. These procedures acquire complete control over sensitive data and further maximize the value from its investment in a Zero Trust architecture.

According to Forrester, classified data is retained, and perimeters are built around data as per their sensitivity levels. These are necessary steps, but categorizations don't stop data misuse, especially if unauthorized people access sensitive network portions.

The following methodologies can safeguard data:

  1. Authenticating and authorizing data access
  2. Encrypting data at rest and in transit

This necessitates technological intervention to automate the enforcement of data-centric Zero Trust norms, each of which utilizes data access governance & encryption technologies.

Once inside, the Zero Trust concept lays a clear foundation for rebuilding networks so intruders can't move around easily.

Organizations can restrict the amount of sensitive data available to unauthorized parties who get inside by segmenting networks into smaller perimeters, utilizing robust identity validation technologies, and regulating access to network resources.

What Steps to Take to Get to a Zero-Trust System?

From creation to the end of the data lifecycle, data-centric security provides comprehensive control over sensitive data. Files containing sensitive information are identified from scratch.

Furthermore, data access and governance control guidelines restrict their access permissions to ensure that they always adhere to the organization's security standards.

Cryptography is at the heart of modern cybersecurity, and it continues to be of paramount importance within a Zero Trust architecture network.

Data is encrypted (for security) and signed using cryptographic techniques (for integrity and authenticity). Public key cryptography allows users and endpoints to be identified and authenticated using digital certificates to access data.

Another practical cryptographic approach in the Zero Trust arsenal is tokenization for data at rest. Tokenization replaces original data with an encrypted version in the same format using format-preserving encryption (i.e., same length, character set, and structures).

What Are the Foundations of Zero Trust?

User identification, remote user access, and network segmentation are not the only components of Zero Trust. ZTNA is a strategy and a basis for a cybersecurity ecosystem. Three tenets lie at its heart, which is as follows:

  • Terminate all connections

Many technologies employ a "passthrough" technique, in which data is transferred to their receivers’ post review. When a malicious file is found, a valid notice is given to the owners. Nevertheless, it is still not enough to counter a breach.

On the other hand, Zero Trust terminates all connections to retain and analyze unfamiliar files before they reach their destination. Zero Trust is based on a proxy architecture that inspects all communication at line speed, including encrypted traffic, deep data, and threat analysis.

  • Protect data with granular policies based on context

Zero Trust verifies access permissions using user identifications and device postures. Additionally, specific business policies depend on contexts, such as the user, device, requested applications, and the type of material.

Policies are adaptive; when the user's location or device status changes, the access capabilities are reviewed accordingly.

  • Reduce the danger of an assault by reducing the attack surface

With ZTNA, users connect directly with their apps and resources as they cannot connect to networks. Users and programs with Zero Trust are invisible on the internet, making them impossible to trace or attack.

What Are the Benefits of Zero Trust?

Let us have a look at the benefits of Zero Trust:

  • Reduces the chance of a company's and an organization's failure

Zero Trust decreases risk by revealing what's on the network and how those assets communicate. A Zero Trust strategy further reduces risk by removing overprovisioned software and services while regularly validating the "credentials" of every communicating asset, as baselines are established.

  • Controls access to cloud and containerized environments

The loss of visibility and access management are the two biggest concerns among security professionals, especially regarding shifting from and into the cloud.

Despite advancements in cloud service provider (CSP) security, workload security remains a shared responsibility of the CSP and cloud providers. However, an organization can only influence to an extent within another's cloud. ‍

  • Zero Trust Segmentation

Furthermore, enterprises use zero trust segmentation (micro-segmentation) to construct perimeters around types of sensitive data. Some common examples include PCI or credit card data, data backups, and many more.  

By utilizing fine-grained restrictions to keep regulated data separate from non-regulated data, a Zero Trust segmentation (micro-segmentation) approach provides improved visibility and control over flat network topologies. This approach removes over-privileged access during audits or data breaches.


When creating a Zero Trust architecture, security and IT teams must concentrate on business principles such as "what are we attempting to protect?" and "Who did you get it from?"

It's essential to recognize that the whole security solution is based on a Zero trust Architecture; technology and procedures are stacked on top of the strategy and not the other way around. ‍

Gartner's Zero Trust network access (ZTNA) paradigm recommends that zero trust architecture needs to be supplied as a service. It can be deployed in phases, as businesses start with their most valuable assets.

Alternatively, an organization can start with non-critical assets as a test case before going all-in on Zero Trust deployment.

A Zero Trust security solution provides instant benefits through risk reduction and security management, irrespective of your starting point.

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