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Zero trust architecture: what it is and why it matters

February 01, 2023

Zero trust architecture: what it is and why it matters
Listen to "Zero Trust Architecture: What It Is and Why It Matters" on Spreaker.

Work that once required employees to securely check into a building is now widely distributed around the world, as workers log in from local coffee shops and home networks. Traditional cybersecurity is no longer adequate. In response, zero trust architecture is on the rise.
Shelby Skrhak chats with Cisco’s cybersecurity experts Gauri Khanna, Keyonna Brown and Lundy Shiue about:
  • Zero trust architecture: what it is and what to expect
  • The industry shift towards zero trust
  • Specific impacts on the public sector

Zero trust architecture: what it is and what to expect

Zero trust functions on the assumption that every device attempting to access your network is malicious until proven otherwise. With a rise in breaches and attacks, this architecture works to ensure your network is safe, despite the shifting nature of remote and distributed work where employees may log on from multiple locations throughout the day.
“With zero trust, we verify the user when they first connect,” Keyonna says. “But we're also looking to continuously verify trust throughout their entire connection process.”
Zero trust is important because it maximizes protection by providing due diligence so that malicious actors cannot easily access your network, and if they do, they don’t get far.

The industry shift towards zero trust

The industry shift towards zero trust was spearheaded by the accelerated shift to distributed work over the past few years in response to the pandemic. But increased cloud usage also requires a new and improved security approach.
“With more applications moving to the cloud, we need to be able to access our data and assets from wherever we are,” Lundy says. “The concept really comes for protecting remote workers while still protecting branch locations.”
While the need to shift to zero trust is immediate, any change in security is phased and will take years to complete.

Specific impacts on the public sector

There are various ways that zero trust can be implemented. However, each comes down to what is described as the three W’s: workforce, workplace and workload.
“Workforce is the focus on protecting users regardless of location, workplace focuses on securing the on-site work location and workload refers to applications and services within your network,” Keyonna says.
Within state and local governments, education and other public entities, zero trust typically plays a large part in limiting the propagation of malicious attempts. This requires understanding and regulating individual usage, stopping malicious activity from spreading when it does happen and providing an authentic response to threats.
These specific impacts expand beyond the public sector. Different sectors may emphasize zero trust in various ways, depending on the specificities of their three W’s.
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