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Last updated June 27th, 2023 by Avigdor Book

In the ever-evolving landscape of cybersecurity, two giants stand as fundamental pillars: Zero Trust and the Principle of Least Privilege (PoLP). As pivotal elements of access management, both of these strategies strive to mitigate potential vulnerabilities and protect critical assets, be it on-premises or within the cloud. Grasping their differences, similarities, and synergies is essential for securing your network, applications, and workloads.

Zero Trust: No Trust is Good Trust

Zero Trust architecture endorses a “never trust, always verify” strategy, pioneered by John Kindervag at Forrester. It fundamentally revolutionizes the traditional access control methods by not granting implicit trust to insiders. Instead, it treats every access request—whether from a user, an endpoint, or a workload—as if it’s originating outside the network.

In a Zero Trust strategy, access management aligns with the principle of ensuring only the right people or resources have the right access to the right data and services. This is crucial in protecting sensitive data and critical applications across your hybrid environment.

Three foundational concepts form the backbone of Zero Trust:

  1. Verification: No user or device is trusted by default. Every user identity is authenticated, and every device inspected before gaining access.
  2. Least Privilege Access: Users and applications are granted minimum permissions necessary to perform their tasks, utilizing the approach of role-based access control.
  3. Micro-segmentation: The network is divided into smaller parts, limiting an attacker’s ability to move laterally within the network.

However, Zero Trust is not without its challenges. Its implementation complexity, cost, and the potential for false positives due to its stringent access control policies are among its disadvantages.

Least Privilege: Less is More

The Principle of Least Privilege (PoLP) revolves around the practice of limiting user and application access rights to the bare minimum necessary for their respective roles. This strategy reduces the potential attack surface, thereby minimizing the likelihood of data breaches. It’s not entirely opposite to Zero Trust but rather a complementary concept that forms a cornerstone of a Zero Trust strategy.

Applying the PoLP requires meticulous management of granular permissions and continuous audits by security teams, which can present its challenges. Yet, it’s integral to maintaining a secure environment.

Zero Trust vs Least Privilege: Making the Distinction

The key distinction between Zero Trust and Least Privilege lies in their scopes. Zero Trust is an overarching cybersecurity strategy encompassing various security principles, including least privilege access, multi-factor authentication (MFA), and micro-segmentation. Conversely, Least Privilege is a focused principle that emphasizes controlling and limiting user and application access rights.

Implementing a Zero Trust strategy, with the Principle of Least Privilege at its core, can establish a robust security framework. It provides comprehensive protection against cyber threats, including ransomware and malware, by controlling remote access, scrutinizing user behavior in real-time, and employing just-in-time (JIT) privilege elevation for user accounts.

How Tufin Can Help

Tufin seamlessly integrates the principles of Zero Trust and Least Privilege into its comprehensive suite of security solutions. Our hybrid cloud automation solution and network segmentation services enable you to effectively establish a Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA) approach, proactively manage user access.

With Tufin’s segmentation matrix, we create a policy that controls traffic between different zones within your organization. Every change is verified and vetted to ensure it complies with security and compliance mandates. This fully automated process implements changes on all relevant firewalls, cloud-native firewalls, security groups, and more.

To deepen your understanding of Zero Trust, explore our blogs on the Zero Trust Model, Zero Trust Metrics, ECB Network Security, and CISA Cloud Security.


What is Zero Trust least privileged access?

Zero Trust least privileged access is a security approach where no implicit trust is granted. Each user and application gets the minimum access necessary to perform their tasks. This approach helps to minimize the potential attack surface and limit the damage an attacker could inflict within the network. Discover more about this in our blog on the Zero Trust model.

What is the problem with Zero Trust?

While Zero Trust significantly enhances security, its implementation can be complex and potentially costly. It also increases the risk of false positives as every action within the network is treated as potentially suspicious. Learn more about the challenges and benefits of Zero Trust in our blog about Zero Trust metrics.

What are the three foundational concepts of Zero Trust?

The foundational concepts are:

  1. Verification: No user or device is trusted by default.
  2. Least Privilege Access: Users and applications are granted minimum permissions.
  3. Micro-segmentation: The network is divided into smaller parts.

For a more detailed view, read our white paper on Achieving a Zero Trust Network Security Model with Tufin.

Wrapping Up

Balancing Zero Trust and Least Privilege principles is crucial to achieving robust network security. Understanding their unique and combined strengths will help build a more secure, resilient cyber environment. Explore how Tufin can boost your organization’s cybersecurity strategy. Request a demo today!

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