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Zero Trust

Paradigm Shift in Security: Zero Trust as a Basic Principle in OT Security

New security dimension for IT and OT

Zero Trust is an IT security model in which the default position is not to trust any IT entity at first. Every user, every device, and every network transaction is considered potentially hazardous and has to be checked, regardless of where it is (inside or outside your network). But Zero Trust is not a firmly defined or regularized industry standard, so the way it works varies from one environment to another.

Zero Trust is a paradigm shift in the way security is understood. It no longer gives known access rights by default. It blocks access by default unless explicitly required. Zero Trust isn’t just used in conjunction with IT resources, most of which are now pretty secure. It’s used also in the context of complex industrial facilities and entire OT landscapes. These industrial facilities involve a wide range of devices, services, and applications, which produce a large number of events, interactions, and data points.

On top of this, there are an increasing number of entities accessing production networks (OT) via IP networks from all sorts of locations, which means greater risks and more stringent security requirements. This is because of the spread of cloud services, but also because more people are working from home, and because the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is producing more data points. Zero Trust is a complete, proactive approach to these cybersecurity challenges which views trust as an ongoing process and isn’t satisfied with one-time checking.

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Certain basic rules and principles for Zero Trust
Micro-segmentation divides networks up into the smallest and most isolated segments possible, with the aim of isolating threats within the network. Then there is the principle of least privilege access, which gives users and devices only those minimum permissions they need to do their work. This also limits the extent of potential damage in the event that a user account is compromised. Multifactor authentication, which means using multiple factors to confirm user identity, further reduces the likelihood of attackers gaining access to resources.

As a rule, implementing a Zero Trust strategy in operational technology (OT) can happen in multiple stages. Facility operators can begin at the IT/OT boundary, continue with the lower levels of OT, and then secure extended OT infrastructure in public clouds, 5G networks, and secure access service edge (SASE) connections.

Implementation challenges
But as well as its numerous advantages, Zero Trust entails challenges for system operators and security experts in businesses. This is because it can be complex to implement and often requires a fundamental rethink of corporate culture so that people begin to accept the need to constantly assess and limit access rights. This is because blocking data traffic within a production facility can impair ongoing processes just as much as permitting it.

Despite this, Zero Trust is an important tool at the disposal of modern IT and OT security teams, giving them a robust way of defending against numerous different threats in increasingly digitalized and networked industrial facilities. AUVESY-MDT can assist businesses in answering key questions by providing suitable software solutions that produce lasting effective security concepts.

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