Zero Trust is a strategic approach to cybersecurity that secures an organization by eliminating implicit trust and continuously validating every stage of digital interaction. It’s a way for government agencies and departments to build resilience into their IT environments.

The Zero Trust Model has become increasingly important for the federal government due to President Biden’s unprecedented Executive Order on Improving the Nation’s Cybersecurity and the more recent federal Zero Trust architecture strategy from the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB).

Palo Alto Networks has been helping the federal government move toward Zero Trust for several years through our work directly with agencies and as part of the NIST National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence.

Zero Trust Today: A Modern Security Approach for Federal Government

In today’s environment, federal departments and agencies have reached a tipping point: many users and apps now reside outside of the traditional perimeter. A hybrid workforce is a new reality. Departments and agencies must provide access from anywhere and deliver an optimal user experience.

The Zero Trust Enterprise: Making Zero Trust Actionable

The biggest challenge to adopting a Zero Trust approach is not a lack of specific security tools but rather a simple lack of resources (talent, budget, interoperability, time, etc.). Through Palo Alto Networks extensive experience and comprehensive set of security capabilities, the Zero Trust Enterprise introduces consistent Zero Trust controls across the entire organization.

A Trusted Partner: More Than a Decade of Zero Trust Experience

With thousands of customers and deployments, Palo Alto Networks is a Zero Trust pioneer with experience across the entire security ecosystem, including network, endpoint, Internet of Things (IoT), critical infrastructure and more. Here’s what makes our Zero Trust Enterprise approach different:

  • Comprehensive: Zero Trust is a methodology and should never focus on a narrow technology. Instead, it should consider the full ecosystem of controls that many organizations rely on for protection.
  • Actionable: Comprehensive Zero Trust isn’t easy, but getting started shouldn’t be hard. For example, begin with what you have. Think about what current set of controls can be implemented using the security tools you have in place today.
  • Intelligible: Your Zero Trust approach should be easy to convey to both nontechnical and technical leaders in a concise, easy-to-understand summary.
  • Ecosystem friendly: In addition to having one of the most comprehensive portfolios in the market, Palo Alto Networks and its broad ecosystem of security partners have an unparalleled ability to make your Zero Trust journey a reality.

A Comprehensive Zero Trust Approach: Users, Applications and Infrastructure

At its core, Zero Trust is about eliminating implicit trust across the organization. This means eliminating implicit trust related to users, applications and infrastructure.

  • Users: Applying Zero Trust to users is a key step in any Zero Trust effort. It starts with strong identity controls that must be continually validated for every user, using best practices, such as multifactor authentication and just-in-time access.
  • Applications: Cloud transformation provides strategic advantages for government agencies and departments. It enables new cloud native application development practices and faster application rollout.
  • Infrastructure: Research shows that on average, an organization runs 45 cybersecurity-related tools on their network.¹ This heterogeneous environment means that IT teams often have poor visibility and control over unmanaged resources, such as IoT devices and supply chain infrastructure.

For each of the three pillars – users, applications and infrastructure – it is critical to consistently take the following actions:

  • Establish identity using the strongest authentication possible.
  • Verify the device/workload. Identifying laptops, servers, personal smartphones or mission-critical IoT devices that are requesting access, determining the device’s identity and verifying its integrity are all integral to Zero Trust.
  • Secure the access. Agencies must ensure that users only have access to the minimal amount of resources needed to conduct an activity.
  • Secure all transactions.

The Security Operations Center: An Essential Function

The security operations center (SOC) continuously monitors all activity for signs of anomalous or malicious intent to provide an audit point for earlier trust decisions and potentially override them if necessary.

Read more on accelerating your Zero Trust journey:


¹ The More Cybersecurity Tools an Enterprise Deploys, the Less Effective Their Defense Is