IT Brief New Zealand logo
Technology news for New Zealand's largest enterprises
Story image

Why network visibility must be the foundation of Zero Trust architecture

By Contributor
Tue 25 Jan 2022

Article by Gigamon A/NZ manager, George Tsoukas.

In May 2021, U.S. Presidential Executive Order 14028 on improving the nation’s cybersecurity was issued, directing federal agencies to transition to a Zero Trust Architecture (ZTA) as they modernise and move to cloud services.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) provided guidance on transitioning to a ZTA in Special Publication 800-207 Zero Trust Architecture (SP 800-207).2 In addition, the Office of Management and Budget has released guidance prioritising Zero Trust initiatives.

Although the executive order is specifically for federal agencies, the principles it outlines apply equally well to enterprises and government.

One of the most strategic investments any organisation can make to facilitate a successful ZTA implementation is complete, accurate and timely network visibility into all data in motion across the organisation, including data center, cloud and multi-cloud environments.

Visibility into data in motion is an aspect of Zero Trust that falls within the Activity Logs logical component depicted below: Core Zero Trust Logical Components from SP 800-207.

SP 800-207 defines this essential ‘network and system activity logs’ component as follows:  “This enterprise system aggregates asset logs, network traffic, resource access actions and other events that provide real-time (or near-real-time) feedback on the security posture of enterprise information systems.”

Many government organisations have also made investments in other areas that can bring value to ZTA approaches, including identity and access management (IAM), endpoint detection and response (EDR), and security information and event management (SIEM) technologies.

However, as organisations evolve towards more mature ZTA implementations, security gaps will remain after the deployment of these technologies. For example, specific nodes such as internet of things (IoT) devices may be incompatible with EDR software, and sophisticated adversaries can manipulate logs from hosts.

A scalable, centralised approach to network visibility mitigates these risks. Moreover, deploying an advanced network visibility platform can further optimise the effectiveness and scalability of ZTA implementations by filtering out noise and duplicate data from the traffic analysed by security tools.

The following are two key reasons why pervasive visibility into all data in motion across the enterprise — including all east-west traffic — is central to ZTA and mitigates risks not otherwise addressed by IAM, EDR, and SIEM implementations. Note that east-west traffic refers to data flows between nodes within a data center and/or cloud service provider (CSP) perimeter.

Monitoring east-west traffic helps organisations detect and respond to attempts by adversaries to move laterally from the initial point of breach towards higher-value assets.

Reason #1 – Data about the network plays a central role in ZTA, and visibility into data in motion is a critical aspect of understanding the current state of the network.

Understanding the state of the network is a key tenet of ZTA as described in NIST SP 800-207:  “Tenet 7: The enterprise collects as much information as possible about the current state of assets, network infrastructure and communications and uses it to improve its security posture.

#An enterprise should collect data about asset security posture, network traffic and access requests, process that data, and use any insight gained to improve policy creation and enforcement. This data can also be used to provide context for access requests from subjects.”

One of the primary ways organisations can gain this understanding is by collecting and analysing data about network traffic, including access requests. For example, when an advanced network visibility platform is used to address the activity logs component in Figure 2 of SP 800-207, it provides substantial insights about network activity to the policy engine at leading-edge network speeds to inform access decisions.

In addition, analysis of data about network traffic complements can be used to validate the integrity of other types of data that feed the policy engine while satisfying current and emerging federal government security requirements beyond ZTA.8

Reason #2 – Network visibility mitigates risks that cannot be addressed by EDR while also validating EDR telemetry.

Host-based security products such as EDR play a valuable role in ZTA. However, it is crucial to understand that EDR cannot be deployed on all endpoints. This leaves security gaps that require additional measures to mitigate.

Specialised devices such as IoT nodes may not be capable of running EDR agents. Similarly, operational technology (OT) and industrial control system (ICS) environments often contain hosts running proprietary or legacy operating systems that cannot run EDR agents or receive ongoing security patches.

Unauthorised ‘shadow IT’ nodes and instances of ‘malware IT’, such as rogue virtual machines and microservices spawned by malware, will also operate without EDR when present. Hence monitoring network traffic for security threats is essential.

Risks may also persist even in cases where EDR software can be installed on hosts. While EDR products are designed to resist tampering, sophisticated threat actors have demonstrated their ability to exploit vulnerabilities in the operating systems that host EDR software, as well as firmware and hardware at levels below the operating system.

In its summary of the SolarWinds incident, threat intelligence and advisory firm Mandiant, Inc. found that once attackers compromised specific nodes, they took steps to circumvent or delete host-based logging mechanisms:

“Mandiant identified the threat actor disabling SysInternals Sysmon and Splunk Forwarders on victim machines that they accessed via Microsoft Remote Desktop in addition to clearing Windows Event Logs.”

Similar techniques were used during an insider attack against technology vendor Ubiquiti, Inc. According to security reporter Brian Krebs, the insider took steps to manipulate logging while also blaming the company for the lapses in leaks to the media:

“Among the claims made in those news stories was that Ubiquiti had neglected to keep access logs that would allow the company to understand the full scope of the intrusion. In reality, the indictment alleges, Sharp had shortened to one day the amount of time Ubiquiti’s systems kept certain logs of user activity in AWS.”

Complementing host-based security technologies like EDR with optimised network detection and response (NDR) and SIEM capabilities based on network visibility data is the best way to mitigate these risks.

For example, observation of network activity to a host that EDR does not log is a strong indicator of a compromise and possible efforts by adversaries to hide command and control traffic. In addition to serving as an additional point of validation, network visibility data is generated externally to any specific host, making it much more difficult for a threat actor to compromise.

Article by Gigamon A/NZ manager, George Tsoukas.

Related stories
Top stories
Story image
Employment
Tech job moves - Forcepoint, Malwarebytes, SolarWinds & VMware
We round up all job appointments from May 13-20, 2022, in one place to keep you updated with the latest from across the tech industries.
Story image
Migration
Let’s clear the cloud visibility haze with app awareness
Increasingly, organisations are heading for the cloud, initiating new born-in-the-cloud architectures and migrating existing applications via ‘lift and shift’ or refactoring.
Story image
Remote Working
Successful digital transformation in the hybrid work era is about embracing shifting goalposts
As organisations embraced remote working, many discovered they lacked the infrastructure needed to support history’s first global load test of remote work capabilities.
Story image
Vectra AI
Understanding the weight on security leader’s shoulders, and how to shift it
Millions of dollars of government funding and internal budgets are being funnelled into cybersecurity to build resilience against sophisticated threats, indicating how serious this issue has become.
Story image
Lightspeed
Lightspeed launches all-in-one marketing platform in A/NZ
ECommerce provider, Lightspeed has launched a new all-in-one marketing solution, Lightspeed Marketing & Loyalty in Australia and New Zealand.
Story image
Infrastructure
Nutanix study reveals financial services sector lagging with multicloud adoption
Nutanix has released new research that reveals the financial services sector is lagging behind when it comes to multicloud adoption.
Story image
Artificial Intelligence
CFOs using digital workers and AI to prevent unnecessary loss
New technology is now allowing CFOs to use digital workers to automate their accounting processes, making it easier for them to avoid unnecessary losses.
Story image
Fonterra
Fonterra to use automated guided vehicles by Dematic
New Zealand's dairy giant Fonterra is upgrading its manufacturing facility in Edendale with new automated guided vehicles (AGVs) from Dematic.
Story image
Wireless Nation
Wireless Nation, N4L provide 4G network to remote NZ schools
Wireless Nation and Network for Learning (N4L) have rolled out the Rural Connectivity Group’s (RCG) new 4G network to better connect three Chatham Islands schools.
Story image
Digital Transformation
Pluralsight and Ingram Micro Cloud team up on cloud initiative
Pluralsight has teamed with Ingram Micro Cloud to build upon cloud competence and maturity internally, and externally support partners’ capabilities.
Story image
Microsoft
New Relic enters multi-year partnership with Microsoft Azure
New Relic has announced a strategic partnership with Microsoft to help enterprises accelerate cloud migration and multi-cloud initiatives. 
Story image
Digital Transformation
The impact of COVID-19 on healthcare environments and care delivery
The COVID-19 pandemic has revolutionised the healthcare industry while overcoming staff shortages, social distancing requirements, and lockdowns.
Story image
Cybersecurity
More than 40% of banks worried about cloud security - report
Publicis Sapient's new report finds security and the lack of cloud skills and internal understanding of business benefits are big obstacles for banks moving to the cloud.
Story image
Qualys
Qualys updates Cloud Platform solution with rapid remediation
The new update is designed to enable organisations to fix asset misconfigurations, patch OS and third-party applications, and deploy custom software.
Story image
Nozomi Networks
Nozomi Networks, Siemens reveal software integration
Nozomi Networks and Siemens have extended their partnership by embedding Nozomi Networks’ software into the Siemens Scalance LPE local processing engine.
Story image
SaaS
Maintaining secure systems with expectations of flexible work
Most office workers feel they've proved they can work successfully from home, and as much as employers try, things aren't going back to the way they were anytime soon.
Story image
Apple
Apple previews new features for users with disabilities
Apple says new software features that offer users with disabilities new tools for navigation, health and communication, are set to come out later this year.
Story image
Sift
Sift shares crucial advice for preventing serious ATO breaches
Are you or your business struggling with Account Takeover Fraud (ATO)? One of the latest ebooks from Sift can provide readers with the tools and expertise to help launch them into the new era of account security.
Story image
Artificial Intelligence
AI-based email security platform Abnormal Security valued at $4B
"A new breed of cybersecurity solutions that leverage AI is required to change the game and stop the rising threat of sophisticated and targeted email attacks."
Story image
Data Center
Preventing downtime costs and damage with Distributed Infrastructure Management
Distributed Infrastructure Management (DIM) can often be a lifeline for many enterprises that work with highly critical ICT infrastructure and power sources.
Story image
Supply chain
Jetstack promotes better security with supply chain toolkit
The web-based resource is designed to help organisations evaluate and plan the crucial steps they need to establish effective software supply chain security.
Story image
Excel
Could your Excel practices be harming your business?
While Excel has been the de-facto standard for budgeting, planning, and forecasting, is it alone, enough to support organisations in the global marketplace that’s facing rapid changes due to digital transformation?
Booster
Booster Innovation Fund. A fund of Kiwi ingenuity – for Kiwi investors.
Link image
Softiron
For every 10PB of storage run on HyperDrive vs. comparable alternatives, an estimated 6,656 tonnes of CO₂ are saved by reduced energy consumption alone over its lifespan. That’s the equivalent of taking nearly 1,500 cars off the road for a year.
Link image
Story image
Commerce Commission
ComCom appeals $2.25 million fine in Vodafone FibreX case
The Commerce Commission has filed an appeal in the High Court against a $2.25 million fine imposed on Vodafone NZ for its offending under the Fair Trading Act.
Story image
Customer experience
Research unveils precarious customer loyalty for retailers
New research has found customers are reassessing established brand loyalties as their priorities and behaviours shift.
Story image
Ransomware
Alarming surge in Conti Ransomware Group activity - report
A new report has identified a 7.6 per cent increase in the number of vulnerabilities tied to ransomware in Q1 2022.
Story image
Sisense
Data and analytics could be key to higher selling prices in APAC
Sisense's latest report has found that almost half of data professionals in APAC think customised data and analytics can create better selling prices for their products.
Story image
Ransomware
Cybersecurity starts with education
In 2021, 80% of Australian organisations responding to the Sophos State of Ransomware study reported being hit by ransomware. 
Story image
SaaS
Rubrik Security Cloud marks 'next frontier' in cybersecurity
"The next frontier in cybersecurity pairs the investments in infrastructure security with data security giving companies security from the point of data."
Story image
Sustainability
Power at the edge: the role of data centers in sustainability
The Singaporean moratorium on new data center projects was recently lifted, with one of the conditions being an increased focus on power efficiency and sustainability.
Story image
Cybersecurity
NCSC advisory highlights poor security configurations
The GCSB's National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has released a cyber security advisory identifying commonly exploited controls and practices.
Story image
Application Security
What are the DDoS attack trend predictions for 2022?
Mitigation and recovery are vital to ensuring brand reputation remains solid in the face of a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack and that business growth and innovation can continue.
Story image
Sustainability
Legrand unveils Nexpand, a data center cabinet platform
Legrand has unveiled a new data center cabinet platform, Nexpand, to offer the necessary scalability and future-proof architecture for digital transformation.
Story image
Attain
Revenue operations is taking centre stage
As the business world continues to evolve, new demands need to be met to keep up with the ever-changing landscape. 
Story image
ChildFund
ChildFund launches new campaign to protect children online
ChildFund says WEB Safe & Wise aims to protect children from sexual exploitation and abuse online while also empowering them to become digitally savvy. 
Exabeam
Find out how a behavioural analytics-driven approach can transform security operations with the new Exabeam commissioned Forrester study.
Link image
Story image
Cybersecurity
A10 Networks finds over 15 million DDoS weapons in 2021
A10 Networks notes that in the 2H 2021 reporting period, its security research team tracked more than 15.4 million Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) weapons.
Darktrace
Threat actors are exploiting weaknesses in interconnected IT/OT ecosystems. Darktrace illuminates your entire business and takes targeted action to stop emerging attacks.
Link image
Story image
Sustainability
Grasping the opportunity to rethink the metrics of a sustainable data centre
A data centre traditionally has two distinct operations teams: the Facility Operations team, and the IT Operations team. Collaboration between them is the key to defining, measuring, and delivering long-term efficiency and sustainability improvements.
Story image
Wireless
Cradlepoint expands its Cellular Intelligence capabilities
Cradlepoint has announced additional Cellular Intelligence capabilities with its NetCloud service.
Story image
Cloud Security
Aqua Security createa unified scanner for cloud native security
“By integrating more cloud native scanning targets into Trivy, such as Kubernetes, we are simplifying cloud native security."
Story image
Malware
New vulnerabilities found in Nuspire’s Q1 2022 Threat Report
“Threat actors are quickly adjusting their tactics and these exploits tend to get industry attention, but the threat posed by older and attacks still persists."
Story image
Microsoft
PwC NZ unveils new Cloud Security Operations Center
PwC New Zealand has unveiled its new Cloud Security Operations Center for the entire Microsoft technology stack.