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7 Steps to Better Security with Zero Trust Maturity

As the way we work changes, organizations are looking for better remote access solutions. Virtual Private Networks (VPN) have been the mainstay of remote access for years, but they don’t live up to today’s requirements for scalable, resilient, and secure access. The zero-trust security model addresses the challenges of both ‘work from home’ and the need for stronger security.

What is zero trust remote access?

Zero trust is a security framework. Its principle stems from the idea that you shouldn’t trust anyone. And that includes your own employees. Microsoft’s identity-centric zero trust model requires that every user accessing an application must be verified. Instead of assuming that everything behind the corporate firewall is safe, zero trust requires that all requests for access, regardless of where they come from, are verified as if they come from an untrusted network.

Microsoft’s Zero Trust Deployment Center

IT administrators are familiar with deploying and managing VPNs. But zero trust is a new concept for many. To help address the challenges of implementing zero trust, Microsoft recently unveiled a new information resource called the Zero Trust Deployment Center. The center aims to provide simple guidance using a series of objectives. And it provides actionable steps that organizations need to follow to implement zero trust.

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7 Steps to Better Security with Zero Trust Maturity (Image Credit: Microsoft)

7 steps to zero trust maturity

Here is the list of steps you need to follow to reach zero trust maturity in your organization.

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Traditional IT tools, including Microsoft SCCM, Ghost Solution Suite, and KACE, often require considerable custom configurations by T3 technicians (an expensive and often elusive IT resource) to enable management of a hybrid onsite + remote workforce. In many cases, even with the best resources, organizations are finding that these on-premise tools simply cannot support remote endpoints consistently and reliably due to infrastructure limitations.

  1. Secure identity with zero trust
  2. Secure endpoints with zero trust
  3. Secure applications with zero trust
  4. Secure data with zero trust
  5. Secure infrastructure with zero trust
  6. Secure networks with zero trust
  7. Visibility, automation, and orchestration with zero trust

Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) and Microsoft Intune go a long way to helping implement the first 3 steps. To properly secure digital assets, IT policies should provide just enough access so that users can complete work-related tasks. Azure AD Conditional Access policies can limit access to corporate IT resources once users have verified access.

Azure AD Application Proxy acts as a proxy service for apps hosted on corporate intranets and it can completely replace VPN or reverse proxy remote access solutions. Azure AD is the cornerstone of zero trust, but Microsoft has other products that can help implement all the steps. And the Zero Trust Deployment Center is a good way to understand what needs to be achieved and how Microsoft’s different solutions fit into the zero trust story.

Zero Trust Assessment

But there’s no one-fits-all solution because of different organizational requirements, technology implementations, and security strategies. To help companies understand where they are in the zero trust journey, Microsoft’s Zero Trust Assessment provides recommendations on how to move to the next stage of zero trust to improve security.

Zero trust maturity is a long journey

The Zero Trust Deployment Center offers a good framework for achieving maturity. But to reach the end of the road, you’ll need commitment to make sure that zero trust is applied to all digital assets. To succeed, security needs to be integrated as an end-to-end strategy right from the very beginning of each project rather than being left as an afterthought.

Regardless of how dedicated your organization is to achieving zero trust maturity, implementing any of the steps will improve security posture.

Check out Choosing between Virtual Private Network and Zero Trust Remote Access Solutions on Petri for more information on the zero trust model.

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IT consultant, Contributing Editor @PetriFeed, and trainer @Pluralsight. All about Microsoft, Office 365, Azure, and Windows Server.
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