What is a zero trust security model?

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Principal Analyst of Forrester Research, John Kindervag founded the zero trust security model in 2010. The model, also known as perimeterless security, describes an approach to the design and implementation of IT systems. The zero trust concept is based around “never trust, always verify,” which means devices should not be trusted by default, even if they are connected to a managed corporate network or if they were previously verified.

Now, nearly 12 years later, more and more organisations around the world are taking advantage of this innovative zero trust model as the need to protect sensitive data and entire systems grows. But what exactly is zero trust? Let’s take a closer look.

What is the zero trust security method?

Breaking it down into layman’s terms, the zero trust security method is based upon the concept that businesses should never automatically trust every device or person either within or on the outside of its perimeters. Due to this approach, the model requires stringent identity verification for everything and everyone trying to access resources on the network.

Each time a user or device requests access to a network, a zero trust system dynamically and continually assesses trust before granting access to the user. Zero trust utilises a holistic approach to network security incorporating a dynamic set of principles in order to be successful. Doing it this way, dramatically reduces the risk of hackers being able to take advantage of perimeter weaknesses to gain entry to the network, and, once inside, move laterally to access data.

If an organisation doesn’t use a zero trust security model they tend to have a traditional IT network security concept which is founded on the castle-and-moat principle. This type of security method ensures a great deal of difficulty to gain access to an organisation’s network from the outside. However, once inside the hacker has freedom to exploit everything within it. This is because all users and devices inside the network are trusted by default. The zero trust method ensures that users and devices both outside and within are not trusted, therefore they need to be verified.

The traditional IT model only amplifies the fact that using a zero trust model is key to protecting your business in today’s rapidly developing digital age. Enterprises no longer keep their sensitive data in one single location, and it often spreads across cloud vendors, making it more and more difficult to utilise a single security control for the entire network. The zero trust method requires extensive verification from every device and user trying to access resources on the network and this extra layer of security significantly reduces data breaches.

What are the zero trust principles?

The zero trust security model assumes that no user or device both inside and outside of a network should automatically be trusted. Another concept is least-privilege access which means that a user is only given the access that they desperately need. A “need-to-know” basis drastically reduces user’s exposure to sensitive data.


Most zero trust networks use micro-segmentation. By dividing up the security perimeters, micro-segmentation creates smaller zones to preserve separate access to different components of a network. A user or device with access to one zone will not be able to access any of the other zones without separate permission or approval.

Multi-factor authentication

Multi-factor authentication (MFA) is another core factor of zero trust. MFA ensures that more than one piece of evidence is needed to authenticate a user. Simply entering one password is not enough and another method might include a fingerprint scan, face identification or by adding a code sent via email or text message. The most common MFA application is a 2-factor authorisation (2FA) that Google utilises.

The benefits of zero trust

Here are three major benefits that organisations reap while using a zero trust security network:

  1. Sensitive data is better protected: Incorporating a zero trust model into your company’s network not only ensures that only authorised and authenticated users and devices gain access to the network, but dramatically reduces the risk of data hacks.
  2. Gaining full visibility into an organisation’s traffic: Utilising a zero trust principle allows the organisation’s security team to see exactly what and who is accessing the network, from where, and at any time.
  3. A more streamlined and thorough security solution: A zero trust method also allows an organisation to monitor cloud activity. This ensures a single service is utilised to secure all devices, data, users, and applications.

Get in touch with RiskXchange to find out more about a zero trust model for your business.

How RiskXchange can help

RiskXchange is one of the firms leading the fight against cybercrime, coming up with innovative solutions to everyday problems experienced at the hands of hackers.

With full visibility over your eco-systems’ entire attack surface in near real-time, you can regularly monitor and mitigate risks to prevent unnecessary exposures. Our passive data collection methods are effective and have no impact on your network performance. Using data-driven insights to prevent breaches is the best way to reduce an attack surface and prevent cyberattacks. 

About RiskXchange

RiskXchange provides a powerful AI-assisted, yet simple automated and centralised 360-degree cybersecurity risk rating management approach. We generate objective and quantitative reporting on a company’s cyber security risk and performance, which enables organisations with evolving business requirements to conduct business securely in today’s open and collaborative digital world. 

RiskXchange is an information security technology company, which helps companies of all sizes fight the threat of cyber threats by providing instant risk ratings for any company across the globe. RiskXchange was founded and is led by recognised experts within the security industry, who have held leading roles within companies such as IBM Security.