Zero Trust: Understanding the US government’s requirements for enhanced cybersecurity

BrandPost By Jaye Tillson, Field CTO at HPE Aruba Networking
Sep 26, 20234 mins
Zero Trust
man lock security
Credit: iStock

The concept of Zero Trust has gained significant traction in recent years, as organizations look to enhance their cybersecurity defenses and safeguard their digital assets. The US government has been at the forefront of promoting this approach, with a series of guidelines and requirements that companies must adhere to. In this blog, I will explore some of the current requirements for companies to implement Zero Trust as outlined by the US government.

What is Zero Trust?

Zero Trust is a cybersecurity approach that requires organizations to assume that all network traffic, both internal and external, is untrusted until proven otherwise. This means that every user, device, and network resource must be continuously verified and authenticated before being granted access to sensitive data and systems. The Zero Trust approach is based on the principle of least privilege, where access is granted on a need-to-know basis, and all activity is monitored and analyzed in real-time to detect and respond to potential threats.

Requirements for implementing Zero Trust

In July 2021, the Biden administration issued an executive order outlining several cybersecurity measures that federal agencies and contractors must implement. Among these measures is the requirement to adopt Zero Trust architecture and multi-factor authentication (MFA) for all remote access to federal systems. The order also mandates the use of encryption for data at rest and in transit and the adoption of a centralized logging system to track and analyze network activity.

In addition to the executive order, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has published several guidelines for implementing Zero Trust in organizations. These guidelines provide a framework for establishing a Zero Trust architecture and cover key areas such as identity and access management, network segmentation, and endpoint security. NIST recommends that organizations adopt a phased approach to implementing Zero Trust, starting with a thorough assessment of their current security posture and risk profile.

Another important requirement for implementing Zero Trust is the adoption of a comprehensive cybersecurity policy that covers all aspects of the organization’s operations. This policy should include guidelines for employee training, incident response, and risk management. It should also establish clear roles and responsibilities for cybersecurity personnel and ensure that all stakeholders are aware of their responsibilities for safeguarding the organization’s digital assets.

Challenges of implementing Zero Trust

While the benefits of implementing Zero Trust are clear, organizations face several challenges in adopting this approach. One of the biggest challenges is the complexity of implementing a Zero Trust architecture across an entire organization. This requires significant resources and expertise, particularly in large organizations with complex networks and legacy systems.

Another challenge is the need to balance security with usability and productivity. Zero Trust can sometimes be perceived as a barrier to collaboration and innovation, as it can restrict access to data and systems that users need to perform their jobs. To overcome this challenge, organizations need to ensure that their Zero Trust policies are user-friendly and do not impede productivity.


As the threat landscape continues to evolve, it is clear that traditional cybersecurity approaches are no longer sufficient to protect against sophisticated cyber threats. The adoption of a Zero Trust architecture can help organizations enhance their cybersecurity defenses and safeguard their digital assets. The US government has issued several guidelines and requirements for implementing Zero Trust, and organizations that fail to comply risk falling foul of regulatory requirements and suffering reputational damage. While there are challenges to implementing Zero Trust, the benefits of enhanced security far outweigh the costs.

This blog was published on on 8/16/2023.

Related topic

Aruba Zero Trust and SASE Security