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Measuring Zero Trust Success

Chapter Description

This sample chapter from In Zero Trust We Trust focuses on helping you craft standard metrics based on key constructs, such as risk and performance, so that you can showcase the value that Zero Trust brings to the enterprise infrastructure, processes, and people.

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The Follow-Up

[Glenn pauses and ends with a quick summary.]

Glenn: In summary, here are some highlights of what we want to achieve:

  • Metrics are important to be able to drive adoption of the Zero Trust vision to senior leadership.

  • The metric lifecycle consists of aligning metrics to business, crafting intelligent metrics, presenting the metrics to all stakeholders, and monitoring the metrics to make them more robust and relevant.

  • In this discussion, we spent time only on aligning and crafting. We will present the metrics with the overall strategy and modify metrics if needed once they are deployed and monitored. This will happen post-implementation of the architecture.

  • Alignment of metrics can be the following:

    • Goal based

      • Strategic

      • Tactical

      • Operational

    • Measurement based

      • Qualitative

      • Quantitative

  • Metrics are crafted as either performance metrics or risk metrics.

  • Performance metrics are future-looking; risk metrics measure the current state and gaps.

  • Risk metrics can be asset focused or context focused. Our goal is to be able to showcase context-focused metrics because they consider the overall asset and threat and not just the intrinsic asset value.

Mr. Smith: Alright. Metrics are not new to me; however, it has always been a hassle to align the metrics with our security initiatives. I want you to spend some time with Mariam, Jed, and William and craft the relevant metrics for us relevant to the Zero Trust initiative.

Glenn: Yes, I have, and before I begin, I would like to start by doing a recap to make sure we have correctly understood your vision and mission. In short, the following graphic represents the vision and mission of Zenith Trust Bank (see Figure 5-4).

Figure 5-4

Figure 5-4 Zenith Trust Bank Vision and Mission

With the vision and mission in mind, let us start with what we want to measure to take the Zero Trust strategy forward.

Strategic Performance Metrics

  • Ease of access of user data measured qualitatively. This metric relates to how easily data owners can access their data. Data owners usually include end-users like customers as well as employees, and the measurement is based on factors like availability from anywhere, strong authentication, and so on. A questionnaire will be sent to a sample of groups to understand the overall ease of access.

    • High: A scope of High means that the data is accessible easily.

    • Medium: A Medium scope points to possible issues with access or delays in access.

    • Low: A scope of Low means difficult availability or possibly unavailability of data when needed due to restrictive security measures.

      This metric aligns with the mission statement “Provide convenient and easy data access for customers and employees.”

  • Strength of controls for critical data measured qualitatively. This metric relates to control strength for critical data. This measures the security controls that have been considered when subjects access the data. This metric is asset focused and is measured as follows:

    • High: Strong security controls like multifactor authentication, with data encryption implemented. Endpoints are postured.

    • Medium: Security control is limited to data access only and is implemented for certain users. Employees can access data with fewer security controls.

    • Low: Protection for critical data is limited. Encryption at rest is not implemented.

      This metric aligns with the mission statement “Provide convenient and easy data access for customers and employees.”

  • Organizational agility measured quantitatively: Organizational agility is the capability of the enterprise to pivot to a different type of workload or strategy when performance and scale are critical. This specifically points to cloud movement and can be measured as a percentage of on-premises workload that has successfully moved to the cloud with the right security controls in place.

    This metric aligns with the mission statement “Rapid expansion to a multicloud architecture.”

  • Total cost of ownership (TCO) measured quantitatively: TCO is a financial metric that measures the total cost of a technology investment over its entire lifecycle. In the context of cloud migration and Zero Trust adoption, TCO can be used to compare the cost of running applications and services in a traditional on-premises environment versus the cost of running them in the cloud. To measure TCO, companies can consider factors such as hardware and software costs, maintenance and support expenses, energy consumption, and personnel costs associated with managing the infrastructure. By quantifying these costs and comparing them to the cost of running the same applications and services in the cloud, companies can determine the potential cost savings of cloud migration. With the right Zero Trust strategy, movement to cloud is simpler and measured separately. Quantitative measures of TCO will include cost savings achieved through reduced hardware and software expenses, lower energy consumption, and more efficient use of IT staff. This metric can be tracked over time to measure the ongoing cost benefits of cloud migration and to identify opportunities for further optimization.

    This metric aligns with the mission statement “Rapid expansion to a multicloud architecture.”

Tactical Performance Metrics

  • Reduce the existing blast radius by segmenting the network and applications measured quantitatively. Segmentation is a critical tactical goal when it comes to Zero Trust to reduce the blast radius of an attack. Segmentation needs to be achieved at the user, workload, and network architecture and traffic levels and can be tracked as a percentage of the total. Workload segmentation can be tracked as a percentage of the total workload, and network segmentation can be tracked as a percentage of the total network setup.

    This metric aligns with the mission statement “Proactive approaches to managing breach risk.”

  • Achieve endpoint posturing to augment existing subject context measured quantitatively: Endpoint posturing refers to the security posture of an endpoint device, such as a computer or a mobile device, in a network environment. It involves the measures taken to secure the device and its data, including the installation of security software, the implementation of security policies, and the application of patches and updates. As a tactical metric, endpoint posturing can be measured by assessing the security posture of each endpoint device in a network. This assessment typically involves evaluating the endpoint's compliance with security policies, the presence of security software and updates, and the vulnerable threat surface exposed to attack vectors, and it will be expressed as a percentage of the entire device asset inventory of the enterprise.

    This metric aligns with “Protect customers’ and employees’ data” as well as “Proactive approaches to manage breach risk.”

  • Reduce incident response time measured quantitatively: Incident response is important when it comes to Zero Trust, and a key metric to measure the incident response effectiveness is how soon an incident can be isolated, artifacts captured, and reports created. With a larger automation and orchestration (SOAR) initiative, the aim of this metric is to measure how fast the enterprise can isolate, identify, and take effective action either automatically or manually. This is measured in minutes, hours, or days, depending on the overall average.

    This aligns with the mission statement “Proactive approach to breach risk.”

Operational Performance Metrics

  • Reduce troubleshooting time during incidents measured quantitatively: With simple contextual policies and simple design by Zero Trust, troubleshooting configuration and flow issues should be simpler. With more detailed visibility provided by Zero Trust initiatives, troubleshooting and root cause analysis must take less time, measured in hours or days.

    This metric aligns with “Create simple and efficient application, network, and user architectures.”

  • Reduce mean time to detection of security incidents measured quantitatively: As an operational metric, this measures how fast the enterprise can detect anomalous incidents. This will include a combination of technology like user and endpoint behavior analysis (UEBA), behavior analytics, and other behavior-based solutions to provide accurate information to reduce detection time. The faster the solution can identify the type of flow, the faster it can detect whether it’s an anomaly and is measured in minutes, hours or days.

    The metric aligns with “Proactive approach to managing breach risk” and “Simple application, user and network architecture.”

  • Successfully block fraudulent activities measured quantitatively: This metric measures how well the enterprise is able to detect and block fraudulent activities. With the right visibility controls, the metric is measured as a percentage of total activities recorded. The goal is to achieve 98% or above block rate.

    A tactical visibility and automation initiative is needed to align with the “Protect customers and employee data” mission statement.

  • Reduce downtime of applications and services measured quantitatively: This metric will measure how much availability the application can provide, along with security controls in place. The goal will be achieved if the network provides 99.99% or more uptime.

    This metric aligns with the “Provide convenient and easy access to data” as well as “Prioritize performance and scale.”

As demonstrated, all metrics align with your key mission statements and each metric gets mapped to tactical projects that need to be completed based on your feedback. With the overall cost of projects at hand, we can provide a security budget, but we would like to make sure your metrics are completely accurate. We have spent quite some time with Mariam and William and have understood pain points and what exactly you would like to measure based on your vision.

Mr. Smith: Honestly, I am not sure if we have ever aligned our metrics to our vision in such detail for other strategies. I am impressed. Sam, what do you think?

Ms. Lee: I think this is a good start for us to align. So, what exactly is our next step?

Glenn: Currently we have identified these key performance metrics that you can use to drive adoption for the Zero Trust ideas to other stakeholders. Here is how your tactical road map looks (see Figure 5-5).

Figure 5-5

Figure 5-5 Zenith Trust Bank’s Vision Tactical Enablers Based on Performance Metrics

Like I mentioned, based on your pain points and discussions with your infrastructure and security leads, we have also been able to run some key threat scenarios and have identified gaps in the infrastructure. With these gaps we have performed a maturity assessment, which has also helped us craft risk metrics and an implementation road map to help you showcase the true value of Zero Trust as a security framework for Zenith Trust Bank.

Mr. Chen: Gap analysis? What exactly have you been able to extract and what was your reference?

Glenn: We spent time discovering your network and identifying all the possible segments, assets and threat actors to produce a maturity assessment. The assessment is a reference for you as well as a baseline for us that helps create new metrics based on risk, which we added to your existing list of metrics. This will also reveal the additional security controls needed to reduce the risk in your infrastructure, which will eventually impact the overall security budget.

Mr. Smith: Alright, tell me more about this maturity assessment. Is it similar to the audit we had done?

Glenn: It is not, but there is some scope that overlap. Let me explain in detail.

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