Zero Trust – A Misnomer

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“Zero Trust” is a term that’s both ubiquitous and frequently misunderstood. At its core, Zero Trust is intended to be a strategy that enhances security posture, but its name often leads to confusion. Contrary to what the term implies, Zero Trust is not about eliminating trust but rather about defining and managing it meticulously. This blog post aims to demystify Zero Trust, arguing that it’s more accurately an environment of explicit trust.

Misconceptions About Zero Trust

Zero Trust, as a term, can be misleading. It suggests a model where trust is absent, conjuring images of a digital fortress with no allies, only adversaries. This interpretation is not just incorrect but counterproductive. The essence of Zero Trust is not the absence of trust but its careful, explicit articulation and management.

The Concept of Explicit Trust

Explicit trust, as opposed to the perceived ‘zero’ trust, is about defining clear parameters of trust within an organization’s network. Unlike traditional security models that implicitly trust entities within the network perimeter, explicit trust requires verification and validation at every step, regardless of the entity’s location. This approach doesn’t eliminate trust; instead, it redefines it in a more controlled and secure manner.

Establishing an Authoritative Trust Model

An authoritative trust model is at the heart of establishing explicit trust. This involves creating an authoritative body responsible for overseeing a defined trust domain. Such a model allows for the establishment of clear boundaries within which trust can be explicitly granted. Trust relationships, whether nested or federated, extend these principles to inter-domain interactions, maintaining security and control at every level.

Technical Aspects of Trust Domains

The creation of trust domains involves several key technical processes:

  • Certificate Authority (CA): The CA acts as a trusted entity that issues digital certificates, establishing a foundation for secure communications.
  • Leaf Certificate Authorities: These are responsible for issuing certificates to end entities, further decentralizing and securing the process.
  • Identity and Attestation: Establishing identities within the trust domain and their subsequent validation are crucial. This ensures that only verified entities can access resources within the network.

These technical elements are fundamental in building an environment where trust is explicit and security is paramount.

Zero Trust as an Environment of Explicit Trust

The understanding of Zero Trust as an environment of explicit trust is foundational in constructing a robust security architecture. It shifts the focus from a perimeter-based security model to one that is dynamic and context-aware. Recognizing that Zero Trust is a misnomer is crucial, as it can lead to misconceptions that undermine the very principles it seeks to uphold.


In summary, Zero Trust should not be interpreted literally. Instead, it is a model that emphasizes the need for explicit, well-defined trust. Understanding this is crucial for organizations looking to implement Zero Trust architectures effectively. It’s time to rethink the term, favoring a more accurate description that aligns with its core principles.