When it comes to cybersecurity, agencies have a problem with provisioning the right level of access to devices and people. Agencies that trust the wrong devices and users are risking their data; agencies that apply too many controls over access to data can impact their employees’ daily workflows, leading to a negative impact in production.
Fortunately, a zero trust approach to cybersecurity can help agencies strike a balance between carelessness and caution on their networks. But enforcing a zero trust approach to cybersecurity is easier said than done. Truly practicing a zero trust approach to cybersecurity requires the right people, process and technology.
To understand more about a zero trust approach to cybersecurity and how industry can help agencies, GovLoop spoke with Peter Romness, Cybersecurity Solutions Lead, Public Sector Chief Technology Officer (CTO) Office, and Joseph Muniz, Security Architect, Americas at Cisco.
Traditionally, agencies have practiced reactive rather than proactive cybersecurity. Agencies have also been very perimeter focused for their cyber defenses. But this style fails when threats come from within. “We’ve seen the realization across government that they need to do a better job,” Romness said.
The blind spots facing agencies, meanwhile, include malware and insider threats. Malware is intentionally harmful software, while insider threats are anyone with access to an organization’s sensitive, internal assets. A zero trust approach to cybersecurity responds to threats such as these by not trusting workloads, workforces and workplaces.
“You’re not trusting the people, the network or the process. You must provide the least amount of required access for people to do their work, limit access to devices with segmentation, and monitor the network and workloads for unusual or malicious activity.” -Joseph Muniz, Security Architect, Americas at Cisco
Ultimately, agencies enforce a zero trust approach to cybersecurity by focusing on their people, process and technologies. A zero trust approach to cybersecurity requires authentication, segmentation, least privilege access control, and continuous monitoring. Automating these techniques reduces the burden on employees, letting them devote more energy and time to their agency’s mission. “It’s network as a sensor and enforcer,” Romness said.
“All the who, what, where, when, why, and how are taken into consideration. You can then allow network access based on those things.” -Peter Romness, Cybersecurity Solutions Lead, Public Sector Chief Technology Officer (CTO) Office, Cisco
After establishing an equal focus on people, process and technologies, tools such as those Cisco provides are the ingredients for a thriving zero trust approach to cybersecurity program. Cisco’s Identity Services Engine (ISE), for example, provides least privilege access control for any devices and users everywhere on agencies’ networks. The company’s Duo Security tool, meanwhile, continuously authenticates users anytime they access agencies’ systems. Finally, Cisco’s Tetration tool maps out device workloads and can help develop a whitelist approach to security. “Cisco is the company you want to get a holistic cybersecurity solution,” Muniz said. “We provide security for the workload, workforce and workspace.”
To learn more about the history, the why and how of zero trust, about download our full report here.