Identity In A Zero Trust World

Identity In A Zero Trust World

Our solutions must continually validate the identity of the person accessing our applications and data.

We have a concept at SailPoint: identity at the center of security. While that may appear self-gratifying, when you dig a little deeper, you’ll discover why it’s accurate. Zero Trust has been the growing buzzword and theme for the last couple of years in security. At its core, it means we build our solutions to habitually question who someone is and what they want to do. We can no longer blindly trust a user that comes from a known location. We need to keep asking questions.

At the center of those questions is a critical concept: identity. Our solutions must continually validate the identity of the person accessing our applications and data. That includes authentication, authorization, and one that might not entirely be as obvious is administration. The identity becomes the Golden Key to ensuring that we can validate users. We need trusted sources that tell us who someone is and what access they should have. From there we can form the foundation of our policies that determine how things are accessed.

While it all sounds great in theory, what does that mean in reality? What steps do you take to get there? What does that mean for my firewall?

Let’s answer all of those questions.

First, let’s breakdown what it means to have a Zero Trust model. There is no such thing as an internal network. Whether someone is accessing from their office desk, Starbucks or even Bangladesh nothing changes as far as trust goes. There are no if/then rules for how strong the authentication is, based on whether the user is internal or external. As far as the app is concerned, all users are external. We implement MFA across the board, every user, every time, everywhere. We get smarter about authentication and ask a lot more questions of the user by including behavior patterns, and a more in-depth look at the user's attributes. Does the user know the password and are they logging in from a device we've seen before with an IP address we've seen before and from a location we expect? That’s a very different set of questions from a simple user authentication process that asks, “Does the user know the password and some random number?”

The second concept is that we question everything. We’ve verified who you are; now we need to verify what you are doing or asking to do. Are you trying to access payroll data during business hours from an IP address we see often? Including more context into our authorization decisions allows us to make access decisions based off of what’s happening right now instead of some static rule we set 6 months ago. We need the ability to build dynamic authorization policies that include information about the user and about what the user is trying to do. We need to add behavior patterns to understand what activity is considered normal and which are abnormal. Zero Trust means we have to be smarter and more in-depth in the actions we take to verify a user.

Everything we’ve talked about all centers around identity. Having a robust identity infrastructure gives you the ability to build more dynamic and identity-aware applications. Administration and governance is the first brick that must be laid to develop a robust solution. It’s your foundation. A trusted source is required to pull attributes needed for authorization policy and deeper authentication. The process of feeding that source and ensuring that the attributes are accurate is the where governance and administration come into play. This process allows you to control the lifecycle of new accounts and attributes and ensure they are aligned both from a quality perspective and policy perspective.

These concepts combine to give you a type of "Zero Trust" architecture. However, I want to take the time to make a crucial point about Zero Trust: it's not a solution. Zero Trust is a way of thinking, or perhaps even better stated, an approach. The entire concept is to challenge you to think differently about how you build your applications, networks, and security controls. You begin with the statement that you don't trust any user. You don't depend on a single attribute to determine your level of trust; instead, you continually build that trust with the user by asking questions. Who are you, where are you coming from, what are you trying to do, when are you trying to do it, etc., etc.? The common component for all of these questions is that you are trying to establish the person's identity so the more you establish their identity, the more you trust them, the more you trust them, the more access you give them. Identity remains central to good security posture, and in this Zero Trust world that doesn't change, in fact, it enhances the need for it.


  • Live From ISC West 2023: Day 1

    ISC West 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada, has officially begun! Make sure to keep an eye on Security Today’s ISCW Live 2023 page, as well as our associated Twitter accounts—@SecurToday and @CampusSecur—for the latest updates from the show floor at the Venetian Expo. Read Now

    • Industry Events
    • ISC West
  • It Happened Again

    Just yesterday (as of this writing), it happened again. A 28-year-old woman shot her way into a Christian elementary school in Nashville, Tenn., on Monday and killed three children and three adults, according to national news. AP News reports that the victims were three 9-year-old children, a top school administrator, a substitute teacher, and a school custodian Read Now

  • Let's Get to Work

    You are standing at the conference center doors just waiting to get into the exhibit hall. I know you are because I’m standing next to you. This week at ISC West has been three years in the making. Last year was encouraging, and here we are waiting for the Big Show. Read Now

    • Industry Events
    • ISC West
  • Using Modern Technology

    Using Modern Technology

    Workplace violence is a serious and growing challenge for many organizations — including those in the healthcare industry. Read Now

Featured Cybersecurity

New Products

  • Videoloft Cloud Video Surveillance VSaaS Solution

    Videoloft Cloud Video Surveillance VSaaS Solution

    Videoloft focuses on transforming traditional professional surveillance systems into cloud connected solutions via the Videoloft Cloud Adapter. 3

  • Camden Door Controls ‘SER” Surface Boxes and Extension Rings

    Camden Door Controls ‘SER” Surface Boxes and Extension Rings

    Camden Door Controls has introduced new ‘SER” surface boxes and extension rings that provide a complete solution for new construction. In addition, they provide a simple and robust solution when replacing round wired and manual push plate switches with either Camden’s wired or wireless SureWave™ no-touch switches or Kinetic™ no-battery wireless switches. 3

  • Camden Door Controls Application Spec Guide

    Camden Door Controls Application Spec Guide

    Camden Door Controls, an industry-leading provider of innovative, high quality door activation and locking products, has published a new application spec guide for specification writers designing a wireless barrier-free restroom control system. 3