NSA Releases Guidance On Zero Trust Maturity To Secure Application From Attackers

Zero Trust Maturity measures the extent to which an organization has adopted and implemented the Zero Trust security model. 

It calculates how fully a company has adopted Zero Trust’s foundational concepts, such as stringent authentication of each user, device, and application.

Recently, the NSA released guidance on Zero Trust Maturity to secure the application from attackers.

Guidance On Zero Trust Maturity

The NSA released a Cybersecurity Information Sheet on advancing Zero Trust maturity for the application and workload pillar. 

It provides recommendations for progressively achieving “never trust, always verify” capabilities, such as securing applications from unauthorized access and continuously monitoring workloads, under a comprehensive Zero Trust framework. 

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The goal is to continually mature cybersecurity protections, responses, and operations over time through Zero Trust implementation efforts.

NSA’s Dave Luber stated:-

“This guidance disrupts malicious cyber activity by applying granular access control and visibility to applications and workloads in modern networks. Implementing Zero Trust better secures sensitive data, apps, assets, and services.” 

The CSI notes applications are programs and services executing on-prem or in cloud, while workloads are standalone solutions or coupled processing components performing mission functions, the two are mutually dependent under Zero Trust.

Application security prevents exceptions to an app or system’s security policies.

The application/workload Zero Trust pillar secures access at the application layer by integrating user, device, network, and environment capabilities to prevent unauthorized access or tampering with critical processes/services. 

In advanced ZT, users strongly authenticate to apps and networks, while apps have reduced attack surfaces and least privilege controls.

Workloads dynamically segregate components with granular access rules between them. 

Key capabilities include application inventory, secure development/integration, software risk management, resource authorization/integration, and continuous monitoring/authorizations. 

This enhances visibility, reduces risks, and mitigates application threats under Zero Trust.

Application and workload pillar maturity (Source - Defense.gov)
Application and workload pillar maturity (Source – Defense.gov)

The National Security Agency (NSA) has been actively helping the Department of Defense (DoD) agencies pilot and implement the Zero Trust architectures on their networks.

At the same time, the agency is also developing detailed guidelines for incorporating fundamental Zero Trust principles and models into company-wide system designs.

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Author: Tushar Subhra Dutta