How to Apply Zero Trust Principles to SSH?

How to Apply Zero Trust Principles to SSH?
How to Apply Zero Trust Principles to SSH?

Since the COVID-19 pandemic and remote working environments—organisations and businesses are increasingly looking for secure remote access solutions to ensure network security against the increasing cybercrimes.

One such powerful and highly-adopted security solution is Zero Trust Security.

Zero Trust is a new approach to the network security model that strengthens security posture and shifts the focus from the perimeter and network-based security to user identity-based access. It’s one of the best alternative solutions for outdated solutions for VPN and RDP—providing better security, performance, and data protection against malicious hackers and online threats.

This article will share how to apply Zero Trust security principles to SSH and ensure robust network security for your organisation.

But first, let’s learn more about Zero Trust and SSH.

Understanding the Zero Trust Model

The Zero Trust Security framework relies on the principle of “Never Trust, Always Verify” to provide authenticated and authorised access to users to specific network applications and resources.

It’s a perfect solution designed for modern enterprises to combat sophisticated cyber attacks and online threats. As work from home trend is the new normal, Zero Trust has been largely adopted by organisations.

According to Gartner’s research, 60% of enterprises will phase out their traditional secure remote access solutions like Virtual Private Networks (VPNs)—favouring Zero Trust solutions.

Here are the benefits of the Zero Trust Security solutions:

  • Provides granular access control and visibility of each user activity.
  • Implements least privilege access to minimise access to all the network resources and grant specific user access to specific and necessary applications and resources.
  • Provides a seamless user experience by reducing network traffic, latency, slow performance, and backhaul issues.
  • Implements a strict user authentication and authorisation process to grant user access within the network.
  • Provides continuous network monitoring and 360-degree visibility to identify user behaviour and potential threats.
  • Detects network security events like brute force attacks and invalid login attempts to take necessary actions on time.

Now, let’s learn more about SSH.

What is SSH?

Secure Shell (SSH) is a network security and communication protocol that enables communication between two computers and data sharing. In addition, SSH encrypts this communication—making it a suitable solution to use in insecure environments.

Using an SSH client, you can connect to a server and transfer data using a command line or a graphical user interface (GUI).

Applying the Zero Trust Security Principles to SSH Access

One of the major issues of using SSH to share data and information is using the SSH keys.

Several developers and administrators rely on SSH to access resources and adjust the applications within their organisations. If any malicious or fraudulent party accesses these resources, it can pose a significant threat and danger to the organisation—especially if modification access is enabled for the user account.

This modification access is often because of SSH keys and the user being on a secure and trusted network.

The standard security principles on which the access-control strategies of SSH are based are not meant for modern enterprises as they’re more prone to cybersecurity attacks and online threats.

For instance, it assumes that login from specific hosts, IP addresses, and locations can be trusted. However, this is a poor and outdated strategy as it’s quite easy to jack an IP address. This is where applying the principles of Zero Trust Security becomes imperative.

It focuses on replacing the traditional SSH keys and instead implements role-based access controls with the same GUI or command-line interface users are used to.

Here’s how applying the Zero Trust principle to SSH can help your organisation’s network and ensure maximum security.

  • Zero Trust provides authentication and authorisation confirmation for each new user session.
  • Provides modern and secure methods of authorising and authenticating usage.
  • Provides straightforward role configuration that matches with the organisational policies.
  • Strengthens logging and auditing capabilities that enables reconstruction of actions.

Thus, if your organisation has a huge amount of SSH key usage with too many different user roles—a Zero Trust Security model can help strengthen your security posture. In addition, it can also provide granular control access and visibility for each user activity across the entire network system.


Zero Trust security is essential and useful to manage today’s complex network architecture and advanced security threats. It means you need not rely on the SSH keys and strategies it’s based on to ensure maximum security.

With Zero Trust, you can facilitate and secure network access—while ensuring a quality and seamless user experience.

Therefore, if you’re looking for secure Zero Trust services for your organisation—you can check out InstaSafe Zero Trust solutions. We unify and simplify your secure remote access needs ensuing authorised access, complete visibility, and more. Book a demo for your organisation today and take the first step to make your network infrastructure future-ready.