Lauren Seip, October 2023

Zero Trust: 3 Powerful Principles to Add to Your Cybersecurity Strategy 

Zero Trust is a cybersecurity concept and network security model that operates on the principle of “never trust, always verify.” It challenges the traditional security approach that assumes everything inside an organization’s network can be trusted and instead, adopts a more cautious and stringent approach to protect critical assets. 

The core idea behind Zero Trust is that no user, device, or system should be automatically trusted, regardless of their location within the network. Instead, each user and device attempting to access resources is continuously authenticated, authorized, and verified before being granted access. It assumes that potential threats exist both outside and inside the network and, therefore, applies security measures consistently throughout the network. 

In this blog post, we will walk you through three Zero Trust principles to add to your cybersecurity strategy, and how ProLion’s powerful ransomware protection tool, CryptoSpike, can help you enforce these principles throughout your organization.  

Powerful Principles to Consider  

Zero Trust has been meticulously crafted to fortify security measures by strategically diminishing the attack surface. This resolute approach remains steadfast even when facing the compromise of a specific endpoint or domain account. Zero Trust enables organizations to gain visibility and exercise control over access privileges.  

The three primary guiding principles of Zero Trust include:  

  • Always Verify: Leave no room for assumptions or vulnerabilities, this means you should verify everything (network components, endpoints, users, and storage). 
  • Limit User Access: Avoid gaps by limiting access. This proactive step will safeguard sensitive information and reduce the risk of unauthorized breaches of unstructured data.  
  • Assume Breach: Diligently scrutinize each request and be ready to take immediate action if a breach is detected. 

Principle #1: Always Verify 

To uphold a constant state of verification, trust must be continuously and dynamically granted in near real-time, ensuring the highest level of security for your organization. 

While organizations have made significant strides in securing on-premises network communications, the journey to the cloud poses unique challenges. As you transition into the cloud environment, the distinctions between different cloud components, applications, end-users, and storage can blur. Because of this, you should always verify access directly within the storage itself, minimizing dependence on cloud-based perimeter security strategies and bolstering your data’s protection. 

How CryptoSpike Always Verifies 

CryptoSpike simplifies the process of securing your storage by removing the necessity of trusting users solely based on their domain accounts. While it can integrate with Active Directory for added convenience, it’s important to note that even if this connection is severed, CryptoSpike remains effective in blocking unauthorized access. It achieves this by consistently verifying each transaction.

Access to files is determined by analyzing file access behavior patterns and file extensions. This ensures a robust defense against ransomware attacks that often exploit Active Directory and DNS “trust verification” for lateral movement. Even in the event of a ransomware virus spreading across workstations and servers, CryptoSpike shields your storage because it isn’t involved in facilitating lateral movement between nodes and user accounts within Active Directory. 

CryptoSpike’s File Access Verification is achieved by inspecting file metadata and continually verifying SMB patterns in real time. This ongoing monitoring allows us to promptly detect and respond to suspicious activity. Additionally, our system utilizes snapshots to roll back your data to a point in time before any damage occurs, providing an added layer of protection. 

Principle #2: Limit User Access 

Granting excessive permissions opens the door to potential security breaches. The term “Least Privileged” pertains to permissions within Active Directory and network communications. Detecting and addressing gaps in access privileges in real time can be challenging. For instance, if a manager grants an end-user permission and that end-user changes departments, there may be a delay in updating Active Directory, leaving a vulnerability window. 

How CryptoSpike Limits User Access 

CryptoSpike ensures trust verification before allowing file access, particularly for ransomware extensions and zero-day attack patterns. When we mention “Least Privileged” Access, we’re talking about how the patterns of file access behavior themselves are evaluated, rather than relying solely on Active Directory permissions. CryptoSpike’s ‘rule exceptions’ can grant access that is typically restricted. But, it’s important to note that even in these cases, file access is still double-checked for trustworthiness before it’s granted. 

Principle #3: Assume Breach 

The goal is to be ready to halt a breach if it occurs. Usually, verifying a breach relies on a potentially weak point, the Active Directory, which is considered the primary source of information. It’s challenging to establish a single, unchanging source of truth for validating requests since “what is trusted” and “what is not” can change over time. 

To ensure comprehensive request verification, it’s crucial to integrate it into the storage service layer as well. However, this would require a continuous flow of file access data, which should not rely on potentially vulnerable domain services like Active Directory or DNS.  

How CryptoSpike Assumes Breach 

CryptoSpike checks every file access request in SMB/CIFS/NFS storage environments to ensure they don’t involve ransomware file extensions or ransomware-like behavior. We achieve this by continuously verifying by using file access metadata. You won’t need to rely on vulnerable domain policy management for blocking, restoring, or obtaining transparency reports on file access. 

Watch Our Webinar! 

Zero Trust is not just a concept; it’s a paradigm shift in cybersecurity that challenges the conventional notion of trust within a network. Its fundamental principle of “never trust, always verify” guides organizations to adopt a more vigilant and proactive approach to protect their valuable assets. 

CryptoSpike enforces these three key principles. It simplifies the process of securing your storage by removing the reliance on domain accounts and continuously verifying file access requests. By analyzing file access behavior patterns and file extensions, CryptoSpike strengthens your defense against ransomware attacks. It operates independently of potentially vulnerable domain services, like Active Directory, ensuring your data remains protected even in the face of evolving threats. 

To delve deeper into these concepts, we invite you to watch our webinar, “Ask the Expert: Zero Trust.” During this session, Kent Cartwright, ProLion Solutions Engineer and Certified Ethical Hacker, provides a hands-on demonstration of these three principles in action, and learn how CryptoSpike steps in as the guardian of your storage environment, shielding data from potential vulnerabilities. 

About ProLion

ProLion offers powerful data protection solutions that safeguard critical storage and backup data, on-premises or in the cloud. From ransomware protection that detects threats in real time to data transparency, our industry-leading solutions ensure your storage system remains secure, compliant, manageable, and accessible around the clock.