While few can pronounce the Air Force CTO’s name – zero can spell it – which leads us in nicely to Frank Konieczny’s presentation on Zero Trust at Akamai’s event on Tuesday, April 30, “Zero Trust: Moving Beyond Perimeter Security.”

While there are various definitions of zero trust, the common principle behind it is to trust no one, and trust no device.

“As business models have changed, so have the use of increased dependency on network integration and trust,” Konieczny said. “A zero trust approach means that organizations should not automatically trust anything inside or outside of their perimeter.”

According to Randy Wood, vice president of Public Sector Sales at Akamai, the perimeter way of thinking is in the past – now it’s, “I’m the perimeter.”

“Organizations use to think if they brought users into their trusted environment, all would be well,” Wood said. “Now, that way of thinking has changed – and zero trust is the counter-argument.”

Agencies moving to a zero trust environment must continually monitor and access what’s going on in their network. More and more organizations are turning to multifactor authentication – which ensures users are who they say they are through multiple authentication requirements.

Users should know what applications are on their devices. Smartphones, laptops, tablets – users have multiple devices talking to each other, and must be aware of their connections and correlations.

Konieczny noted zero trust does not mean that threats don’t exist.

“Any incident can happen in your network, but with a zero trust approach, you already know what’s going on,” Konieczny said. “Zero trust is not a reactive approach, but a proactive one.”

Wood agreed security is king, but shared the importance of the user experience.

“Users want a secure experience, but they don’t want that security to interfere with the user experience,” Wood said. “At Akamai, we provide the user with intelligence, speed, and security. We want to give our users the same seamless and secure experience across any device from any location.”

So that’s the ABC’s flyover on zero trust.

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Kate Polit
Kate Polit
Kate Polit is MeriTalk's Assistant Copy & Production Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.