Benefits of Adopting Zero Trust for API Security

December 15, 2021 | 54 views

API_Security
In May 2021, The White House published an Executive Order (E.O.) on Improving the Nation’s Cybersecurity. The third section of the E.O, entitled “Modernizing Federal Government Cybersecurity,” included recommendations for Federal Civilian Executive Branch (FCEB) agencies around implementing zero trust. It noted how “the Federal Government must … advance toward Zero Trust Architecture.”

Towards that end, it specified that FCEB agency heads needed to “develop a plan to implement Zero Trust Architecture, which shall incorporate, as appropriate, the migration steps that the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) within the Department of Commerce has outlined in standards and guidance” within 60 days of the E.O taking effect. It went on to note that agencies’ “migration to cloud technology shall adopt Zero Trust Architecture” as well.

In this blog, we discuss what exactly is Zero-Trust and why is it so critical today for protecting cybersecurity infrastructure against ransomware attacks and other cyber threats.

What is Zero Trust & Why is it so Relevant Now?
Just as a refresher, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) defines zero trust as “an evolving set of cybersecurity paradigms that move defenses from static, network-based perimeters to focus on users, assets, and resources.” This shift means that security teams can’t trust a connection attempt just because an asset is in a particular segment of the network.

Under a zero-trust model, infosec personnel embrace the assumption that every user, asset, and resource is compromised. They can then use that mindset to validate (and re-validate) those sources on a per-session basis, acknowledging that they could suffer a compromise in the meantime.

Zero Trust Architecture (ZTA), which incorporates zero trust principles in the process of planning an enterprise network, is particularly relevant right now given the rise of remote and hybrid work.

Under these work arrangements, employees use personal devices connected to their home networks, among other locations, to access business assets hosted in the cloud. Security teams have no traditional network perimeter to enforce. What’s more, infosec personnel can’t ensure the security of every personal device and Wi-Fi network that employees are using to do their work under these models. Hence the need for security professionals to “never trust, always verify” connection attempts.

The challenges associated with remote and hybrid work might be here to stay, as well. Gartner predicted that 51% of knowledge workers will be doing their jobs remotely by the end of the year, for instance. That’s up from 27% in 2019. The technology research and consulting company went on to say that remote employees will make up about a third of the global workforce in that same period, nearly doubling their representation of 17% just two years prior.

APIs: Understanding Their Relevance and Security Challenges
It’s safe to say that the ongoing remote/hybrid work transformation described above might not be the force it is today without Application Programming Interfaces (APIs). Then again, many organizations might not have survived the events of 2020 without APIs, either. “Because of the power of APIs, organizations were able to implement changes in weeks or months that would have otherwise taken years,” explained Business Wire.

APIs empowered organizations to quickly respond to the pandemic and make changes to the ways they did commerce and hosted business assets. The pandemic is one of several reasons that the use of APIs is on the rise – users made 855 million API requests between October 2020 and October 2021, an increase of 56% over the previous year.

That said, APIs are difficult to secure using traditional means. Indeed, 37% of respondents to a survey covered by Help Net Security in 2021 listed “securing APIs” as one of their top application security challenges. This difficulty reflects the extent to which APIs can suffer from Broken Object Level Authorization and other vulnerabilities identified by the Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP) API Top 10 list. Digital attackers can exploit those weaknesses to compromise applications and the data that they handle.

How Zero Trust Can Help with API Protection
Fortunately, security teams can also apply zero trust principles to protect their organizations’ APIs. To do so, they need to embrace a comprehensive API security strategy that consists of three elements. First, VentureBeat notes that infosec teams can leverage zero trust to scale API governance, thus ensuring that they can balance their employer’s compliance needs with the desire to bring in new API and endpoint features on an ongoing basis.

Second, security teams need to restrict network access and enforce the principle of least privilege on resources. But they need to do so in a way that doesn’t undermine the purpose of APIs. In the words of Salt Security, “connectivity must be present for APIs to function, and many API attacks still occur in trusted channels and authenticated sessions.” This reality highlights the need for automatic baselining of “normal” API traffic so that the reconnaissance activities of bad actors looking for the unique vulnerabilities of a given API stand out clearly and can be stopped.

Finally, infosec personnel can look to zero trust to broaden API security beyond just the coding process. They can seek to manage their APIs’ security in every stage of the software development lifecycle (SDLC) by denying everything by default and authenticating every resource. In upholding these two foundations of zero trust, infosec personnel can manage API security as one of their priorities and not a bolted-on consideration.

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Cadre Information Security

Cadre is a WBE certified network and information security solutions provider that serves large and medium sized firms. Widely recognized as a pioneer in the security industry, Cadre delivers value through superior customer service, advanced engineering and a resolute focus on design, assessment, installation, training and support of information security systems. All over the world, clients rely on Cadre to provide guidance and technical expertise on compliance, controlling technical risks, and achieving security goals.

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GuidePoint Security Launches Industrial Control Systems (ICS) Security Service Offerings

GuidePoint Security | September 28, 2022

GuidePoint Security, a cybersecurity solutions leader enabling organizations to make smarter decisions and minimize risk, today announced the availability of its ICS Security Services. These service offerings include a Security Program Review, Security Architecture Review and ICS Penetration Testing that collectively are designed to provide an organization with a holistic view of their entire ICS security posture. Traditionally, Operational Technology (OT) environments were kept separate and isolated from the traditional IT infrastructure. Today, ICS environments have emerged from the combination of IT and OT (Industry 4.0), introducing new features and easier management, but also creating new vulnerabilities and attack vectors. For example, an OT environment can be breached by an attack that comes through the IT environment. With GuidePoint’s ICS Security Services, organizations can ensure they have visibility across not only their OT environment, but also their broader organization. “The convergence of OT and traditional IT infrastructure into ICS environments has led to easier operational oversight, but it also introduces new avenues for attackers to exploit,” said Pascal Ackerman, Sr. Security Consultant - Operational Technology. “Through the combined expertise of our Governance, Risk and Compliance, Security Architecture, and ICS penetration testing practices, we can provide customers with an assessment of their entire ICS security posture, evaluating every angle of their environment.” GuidePoint’s ICS Security Service offerings include: Security Program Review (SPR): The SPR evaluates and measures an organization’s security program maturity and is based on the framework chosen by the customer, including, but not limited to: NIST Cybersecurity Framework (CSF), NIST 800 82, CIS Controls, ISO/IEC 62443, ISO 27001, C2M2, FERC/NERC-CIP, CISA TSS and ITU CIIP. With GuidePoint’s SPR offering, organizations can better assess their security program and its maturity level, and build or enhance their existing program to ensure it is right-sized to their unique requirements. ICS Security Architecture Review (SAR): The SAR evaluates an organization’s security capabilities to ensure deployed technologies are aligned with relevant compliance requirements. GuidePoint’s team of experts provides industry-recommended enhancements to an organization’s existing solutions as well as recommendations for new controls to augment and further mature security practices. ICS Penetration Testing: This service goes beyond a typical OT pentest by combining best-in-class IT and OT pentesting methodologies to form a holistic offering that will assess all security aspects of the production environment. Organizations gain real-life, actionable results based on proven ICS (IT and OT) penetration testing methods and techniques. These ICS Security Services round out a complete portfolio of cyber-focused Governance, Risk and Compliance offerings, Security Architecture Reviews, as well as Threat and Attack Simulation Services, to ensure the security of customers’ environments. About GuidePoint Security GuidePoint Security provides trusted cybersecurity expertise, solutions and services that help organizations make better decisions that minimize risk. Our experts act as your trusted advisor to understand your business and challenges, helping you through an evaluation of your cybersecurity posture and ecosystem to expose risks, optimize resources and implement best-fit solutions. GuidePoint’s unmatched expertise has enabled a third of Fortune 500 companies and more than half of the U.S. government cabinet-level agencies to improve their security posture and reduce risk.

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