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How To Implement Zero Trust

Zero Trust Access for Dummies
Zero Trust Access for dummies

Zero-Trust Implementation Meaning

Zero trust implementation involves a policy of never trusting and always verifying the authenticity and privileges of devices and users, no matter where they are in the network. Implementing zero trust hinges on network access control (NAC) systems and the segmentation of your network according to the areas you most need to protect. 

Once you have identified your most sensitive assets, you have to map out how traffic moves to these parts of the network, then you architect your zero-trust system accordingly.

Challenges in Implementing Zero Trust

Knowing how to implement zero-trust security requires an understanding of the most common obstacles you may encounter. These include complex infrastructures, cost, effort, and the need for flexible software solutions.

Complex Infrastructure

For many organizations, their infrastructure consists of many servers, proxies, databases, internal applications, and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solutions. Some of these may be running in the cloud while others are on-premises. Securing each segment of your network, as well as meeting the needs of a cloud or on-premises environment, can raise a number of obstacles.

In addition, you may be trying to secure systems composed of a mix of legacy and new hardware and applications. The combination of all these factors can create complex challenges in ensuring you achieve full zero-trust implementation.

Cost and Effort

To implement zero trust, you may need to invest time, as well as human and financial resources. Figuring out how to segment your network and who should be allowed access to which areas requires careful thought and collaboration. Then you have to ascertain the best ways to verify the legitimacy of each user and device before it is granted access.

Hiring or allocating the human power to get this done in an efficient manner often requires significant funds, particularly if you do not have a system that, by design, integrates well with your environment.

Flexible Software

One of the primary considerations as you investigate how to create a zero-trust network is the flexibility of the software to run the system. You may have to incorporate several micro-segmentation tools, identity-aware proxies, and software-defined perimeter (SDP) tools.

Without flexible software, you may have to purchase redundant systems to protect all elements of your environment. However, with a flexible solution, you can streamline the design and implementation of your zero trust security model.

Diverge and Converge with Zero Trust Strategy

Forrester Discusses the Building Blocks of a Successful Zero-Trust Approach

A webcast sure to ignite your interest in zero-trust security. 

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5 Steps to Zero Trust Implementation

The following zero trust guidelines can help you design and deploy your zero trust cybersecurity framework. They can help you establish a dependable data loss prevention (DLP) and breach avoidance strategy. What follows is a practical guide to zero trust implementation.

Define the Attack Surface

Defining your attack surface should be the first item on your zero trust checklist. To do this, you want to hone in on the areas you need to protect. This way, you will not be overwhelmed with implementing policies and deploying tools across your entire network. Focus on your most valuable digital assets.

Sensitive Data

This includes the data of customers and employees, as well as proprietary information you do not want to fall into the hands of a thief.

Critical Applications

These are the applications that play a central role in your most crucial business processes.

Physical Assets

Physical assets can range from point-of-sale (PoS) terminals to Internet-of-Things (IoT) devices to medical equipment.

Corporate Services

These include the elements of your infrastructure used to support the day-to-day work of employees and executives, as well as those that facilitate customer sales and interactions.

Implement Controls Around Network Traffic

The way traffic flows through your network will often pivot on the dependencies each system uses. For example, many systems need to access a database holding customer, product, or service information. 

Requests, therefore, do not simply “go into the system.” Rather, they have to be routed through a database containing sensitive and delicate information and architecture. Understanding these kinds of details will help you decide which network controls to implement and where to position them.

Architect a Zero Trust network

A zero trust network is designed around your specific protect surface—there is never a one-size-fits-all solution. In most situations, your architecture may begin with a next-generation firewall (NGFW), which can act as a tool for segmenting an area of your network. Also at some point, you will want to implement multi-factor authentication (MFA) to ensure users are thoroughly vetted before being granted access.

Create a Zero Trust Policy

After you have architected the network, you will want to design your zero trust policies. This is most effectively done using what is known as the Kipling Method. This involves asking who, what, when, where, why, and how for every user, device, and network that wants to gain access.

Monitor Your Network

Monitoring activity on your network can alert you to potential issues sooner and provide valuable insights for optimizing network performance—without compromising security.


Reports produced on a regular or ongoing basis can be used to flag abnormal behavior. You can also analyze them to assess how your zero trust system impacts employee or system performance and ways you may be able to improve it.


Analytics takes data generated by your system and provides insights regarding how well it functions. Insights are valuable when you need to monitor network traffic, the performance of components of the network, and patterns of user behavior.


The logs produced by your system provide you with a permanent, time-stamped record of activity. These can be analyzed manually or using analytical tools, such as machine-learning algorithms that can recognize patterns and anomalies.

5 Steps to Zero Trust Implementation

How Fortinet Can Help?

FortiNAC provides you with a comprehensive view into your network and the users and systems that are interacting with it. This enables you to keep an inventory of the devices connected to your system, regardless of whether they are in a virtual or traditional system.

FortiNAC also gives you the ability to monitor and respond to activity, as well as examine the kinds of risks users or applications may pose to your network. In this way, FortiNAC makes it simple for the IT team to guard all the assets in your protect surface.


How do you implement zero trust?

Zero trust implementation involves a policy of never trusting and always verifying the authenticity and privileges of devices and users, no matter where they are in the network. You have to identify what you need to protect, segment your network accordingly, map out how traffic flows, architect, then roll out your zero-trust solution.

How do I create a zero trust network?

The steps required to create a zero trust network include:

  1. Defining the attack surface
  2. Implementing controls around network traffic
  3. Architecting your zero trust network
  4. Creating a zero trust policy structured around asking who, what, when, where, why, and how when it comes to people and systems that want to connect to areas of your network

How long does it take to implement zero trust?

The time it takes to implement zero trust will depend on the solution you choose and the complexity of your network. Investing a little more time upfront in assessing the assets you need to protect will make the rest of the process go faster.

How do you build a zero trust network?

To build a zero trust network, you need a network access control (NAC) system such as FortiNAC that monitors who and what is trying to access your network, as well as their activity once connected. You then segment your network according to the different areas you want to protect, and create your policies.