Apr 26 2023

How State and Local Agencies Can Establish Zero Trust

Identity Management Institute recommends that governments follow these 10 steps to ensure the security and continuity of operations.

In a zero-trust environment, all users, devices and traffic are treated as potential threats, and every access request is verified and authenticated using multiple layers of security controls.

These security controls include using strong multifactor authentication methods, such as a combination of passwords and security tokens, to verify the identity of users, as well as network segmentation and microsegmentation to limit users’ access to only the resources they need to perform their jobs according to the principle of least privilege.

The zero-trust model is based on the concept of “never trust, always verify,” and the goal is to protect systems against cyberattacks and unauthorized access attempts.

Zero trust is particularly vital to state and local government networks, which own and operate critical infrastructure and provide important services for citizens. Protecting these resources ensures continuity of operations and shields sensitive data and information.

Identity and access management is an essential part of the zero-trust model, since it provides a solid framework for controlling user access to network resources. IAM enables agencies to verify user identities, assign appropriate access privileges and enforce policies to protect sensitive data and applications.

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Zero-Trust Benefits for State and Local Governments

State and local governments can benefit significantly from the zero-trust model, as it provides a comprehensive security strategy to protect against a wide range of cyberattacks.

Some of the benefits of zero trust for state and local governments include:

  • Security and breach prevention. Zero trust provides a robust and comprehensive security approach that can help state and local governments protect sensitive data, applications and systems from cyberthreats and attacks.
  • Zero trust helps state and local governments comply with various security and privacy regulations, such as HIPAA, the Federal Information Security Management Act of 2002 and Criminal Justice Information Services guidance.
  • Zero trust gives state and local governments better visibility into and control over user access to network resources, enabling them to identify and respond quickly to potential security threats.
  • Zero trust helps state and local governments build a more resilient network that can quickly adapt to changing security threats and recover from cyberattacks.

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How to Implement Zero Trust for Government Networks

Identity Management Institute recommends a 10-step process for implementing zero trust that state and local governments may consider to manage risks, including insider threats.

  1. Complete a risk assessment.
  2. Define the scope: systems, data, people and devices.
  3. Create a business plan and promote the idea to the agency.
  4. Establish a budget and resources.
  5. Develop a zero-trust implementation plan.
  6. Define trust criteria and boundaries.
  7. Deploy multistep and multifactor authentication technology.
  8. Pay attention to privileged accounts on key applications, databases and devices.
  9. Implement an appropriate access control model, such as the attribute-based model.
  10. Monitor access and activities across systems based on agency trust criteria.

A comprehensive security strategy may include IAM solutions and security tools such as multifactor authentication, access control policies, encryption, network segmentation and continuous monitoring to significantly reduce the risk of data breaches with real-time threat monitoring and response capabilities.

UP NEXT: Read more about zero-trust security for state and local governments.

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