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GCN : February 2014
[BrieFing] Is this the year of zero trust? It sounds like the concept for a spy novel, but in fact it's a framework for a new ap- proach to security that its proponents say is not only much more effective than traditional security models but is needed if cloud computing is to be widely adopted. Most security models now in play assume a protected border, with a trusted net- work inside. But with security breaches of government and commercial networks in the daily news, the aws of that model are becoming more obvious every day. Zero trust, as the name suggests, replaces the catchy but ultimately wrong credo of "trust but verify" with one that considers all network traf c, wherever it originates, as suspect. In sum, every packet on the network has to be inspected and analyzed in real time. "We've been indoctrinated with the 'trust but verify' thing for so long, without understand- ing that it originated as a joke," said John Kindervag, a principal analyst at Forrester Research. "Looking at that was the genesis for zero trust, since we found that it has actually been a fundamental problem for security for so long." Forrester rst proposed a security framework based on zero trust in 2010. Since then, the idea has become a hotly debated topic in security circles. Richard Stiennon, founder and chief research analyst of IT-Harvest, thinks zero trust is "fundamental" to the way security has to be implemented. The industry has been moving in that direc- tion for a while, he said, and it's why the issue of access management in security has gained traction in the past few years. But, after Snowden, it's not clear who can be trusted. "That's had a huge impact, particularly in the cloud arena because that's seen as the next big revolution in computing and it was launched without a zero trust model," Stiennon said. If they are not to suffer potentially billions of dollars in lost business the carriers will need to adopt zero trust to convince customers their data is secure, he said. The core of Forrester's model is what it calls a "network segmentation gateway" that supports multiple 10 gigabit/sec interfaces, provides quality of service or packet shaping to maintain network per- formance and de nes global policies for the network. It's essentially a beefed-up, next-generation rewall, Kindervag said, that has a lot more insight into the data packet all the way up to network Layer 7, the application layer. "But the real difference is where you place this," he said. "Traditionally you put these kinds of rewalls at the center of the network rather than at the edge, and that really helps a lot." When zero trust will become an applied rather than a theo- retical approach to security is unclear. Stiennon, for example, believes the "threat actor" that will move organizations to con- sider zero trust is now com- pletely visible, and people are realizing all of their data can be captured. That should push changes, though he expects zero trust to appear rst in new projects and then wend its way into legacy environments. That process could "easily take ve to 10 years," he said. On the other hand, Kindervag said he's already designing zero trust networks for his clients, and has early adopters in industry and government. These are the "not very chatty" kind who don't want to talk about what they are doing with security. However, he said, zero trust is becoming a much more widely discussed enterprise topic. "2014 will be the year of zero trust," he said. • After Snowden, 'trust, but verify' is out, zero trust is in BY BRIAN ROBINSON 4 GCN FEBRUARY 2014 • GCN.COM The Snowden disclosures call for a security posture that considers all network traffic to be suspect and requires every packet on the network to be inspected in real time, according to security executives. AP IMAGES