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Zero Trust in IAM


CEO and co-founder @acsense

Muli Motola

Co-founder and CEO

A Comprehensive Guide to Zero Trust in IAM

Zero trust has been emerging as a cornerstone of a robust cybersecurity defense strategy.

This concept, built on the principle of “Never trust, always verify,” stresses the importance of not implicitly trusting, even within organizational networks. As zero trust is a significant concept in cybersecurity, it is an increasingly popular topic within Identity and Access Management.

As a leading IAM provider, our team at Acsense ensures zero trust is built into every feature and level of our system.

Zero Trust by Industry

Industries of all types recognize the importance of zero trust.

However, the adoption and implementation of zero trust varies by industry.

In Okta’s State of Zero Trust Security 2023 report, the zero trust model was examined across four different industries: Healthcare, Public Sector, Financial Services, and Software. Companies within each industry were surveyed to determine initiatives for Zero Trust. Overwhelmingly, companies in each industry already had a zero trust initiative in place, with Software leading the zero trust initiative as 69% of software industry responders noted a zero trust security initiative already in place.


While 4% of both healthcare and public sector organizations noted they had no zero trust initiative and were not planning one in the next 18 months, this number has declined since previous years illustrating a commitment to zero trust across all industries.

When implementing zero trust initiatives, organizations have many different methodologies available. Some of the most popular zero trust initiatives organizations have already implemented include Multi-factor authentication (MFA) for both external partners and employees.

Additionally, secured access to APIs, device security posture assessment, and privileged access management for cloud infrastructure are popular strategies. 

Zero Trust in IAM

Zero trust is a cybersecurity concept based on the idea that trust should not be automatically given, even within an organization’s network. Instead, zero trust is based on the fundamental principle that identity should always be verified, trust should not be given implicitly. In this model, both human and machine identities are considered untrusted by default. Zero Trust emphasizes the need for rigorous identity verification, least privilege access, and an air-gapped approach.

The zero trust approach is paramount to Identity and Access Management (IAM).

As IAM is concerned with identifying and managing electronic and digital identities, zero trust can be used within IAM to ensure system and data access is tightly controlled. This reduces the attack surface of an organization and minimizes the risk of unauthorized access. By integrating zero trust principles into IAM, organizations strengthen their security posture, safeguard against insider threats, and enhance the protection of their digital assets. Zero Trust should be a critical strategy in any organization’s IAM system. 

At Acsense, we recognize zero trust’s importance to IAM.

We offer a resiliency solution for Okta tenants, ensuring IAM is not a single point of failure from ransomware, insider threats, misconfigurations, or other attacks. At every part of our resiliency solution, Acsense is built on the zero trust principle to ensure the safest environment for your systems and data.

The Foundations of Zero Trust

Implementation of Zero Trust can incorporate a variety of cybersecurity tools and techniques. 


However, there are three foundational concepts of the Zero Trust model. These concepts are verify, least privilege access, and an air-gapped approach. Integral to the Zero Trust model, these concepts are also a crucial component of IAM. As IAM focuses on controlling access to resources and managing actions within digital environments, the zero trust principle goes hand-in-hand with IAM.

The principles of zero trust can be used to enhance security, streamline access control, and minimize risks associated with unauthorized access, all essential activities of IAM. 


At the heart of both zero trust and IAM is the “verify” principle.

In the context of IAM, verify is the process of thoroughly authenticating and validating the identity of individuals, devices, or processes before granting them access to any system or data. Multi-factor authentication (MFA), a key component of IAM, exemplifies this principle. By requiring multiple forms of verification, such as something you know (password), something you have (smart card), or something you are (fingerprint), MFA ensures that only authorized users can gain access to organization information.

This robust verification process is vital to prevent unauthorized entry and protect sensitive data.

Least Privilege

The second principle of zero trust, least privilege, also plays a crucial role in IAM.

Least privilege ensures users and entities are only granted the minimum  access required to perform necessary tasks. IAM systems should assign permissions based on roles, responsibilities, and business needs. By adhering to this principle, organizations minimize the attack surface and potential damage caused by compromised or malicious accounts.

With the least privilege principle, even if an account is breached, the damage is limited since the compromised account has limited access to sensitive systems or data.


Segmentation, the third principle of zero trust, is also integral to IAM.

This powerful concept isolates a computer or a network from the internet or other external networks. This isolation creates an “air gap,” a complete lack of network connectivity, which prevents any direct or indirect data exchange between the isolated system and external networks. Air-gapped systems improve the security posture of sensitive information by minimizing the attack surface and thwarting potential cyber threats. If a bad actor gains access to one area of an air-gapped network, they are unable to access other parts of the network beyond the air-gap.

This approach is especially effective in protecting sensitive data and critical systems.

These three zero trust principles: verify, least privilege, and segmentation, are essential to IAM as they help ensure crucial data and systems are protected. As organizations increasingly recognize the importance of safeguarding their digital assets, integrating these zero trust principles into IAM becomes a critical strategy for mitigating risks and maintaining robust cybersecurity programs.

Zero Trust at Acsense

To ensure the security of your data and resilience of your system, Acsense implements the zero trust principle both horizontally and vertically. We verify every user and device and perform continuous authentication to minimize security risks. These verifications are supported by our implementation of least privilege access, air-gapped environments, immutable backups, and data integrity. 

Least Privilege Access

As we’ve covered, least privilege access is an essential concept towards the zero trust principle.

At Acsense, we apply least privilege access at all levels. When an Acsense agent accesses a customer’s tenant we use the minimal access required, read only. Only when required do we request elevated credentials, such as Restore, which necessitates a token with read/write access. After performing the required operation, the token is revoked. This ensures that read/write tokens do not persist. In addition to no token persistence for read/write tokens, we intentionally do not backup customer’s tokens.

In the unlikely event our environment is penetrated, our implementation of least privilege access ensures bad actors cannot access essential token data.

Air-Gapped Environment

To provide additional measures to safeguard your data, we store it in a separate AWS account.

This separate account employs a double layer of encryption while also implementing intrinsic and perimeter security. Customer data is further protected by not allowing SSO into Acsense environments or storage in Git repositories. SSO is not supported as it increases the potential for vulnerability. Even if a password is compromised, it cannot be exploited by a bad actor to gain access to customer data.

Additionally, as Git repositories often rely on SSO, we further protect the Acsense environment by not allowing Git repository storage. Another feature of our air-gapped storage is continuous replication to a stand-by tenant. This feature ensures customers have an additional air-gapped Okta tenant with a separate URL.

If access to a production tenant is lost, this stand-by tenant is available for instant failover, ensuring a swift recovery.

Immutable Backups

Another way we support the zero trust principle is through immutable backups.

Outside of the expiration policy, backups cannot be deleted. Even if a malicious actor breaches the security perimeter, they can’t tamper with or hold your data hostage.

Your data’s integrity and security are our utmost priorities.

Data Integrity

To ensure the integrity of your data, we provide bulletproof protection for all customers.

This bulletproof protection is supported by high security, privacy controls, and continuous data integrity validation. As part of our validation process, we provide recoverability reports that customers can use for internal audits and compliance. More importantly, customers can rely on this validation process to utilize the solution when needed, providing peace of mind.

Additionally, this process ensures no misconfigurations or API discrepancies on the Okta side, further supporting your peace of mind. 

Final Thoughts…

In an era marked by escalating cybersecurity concerns, adopting zero trust within Identity and Access Management is not just an option. It is a necessity. As we’ve seen, these principles help protect sensitive data, limit lateral movement in case of a breach, and enhance access control.

At Acsense, we have taken zero trust to heart utilizing least privilege access, air–gapped environment, immutable backups, and data integrity to ensure your data is secure, your Trust is intact, and your organization is protected.


With us, you can rest assured that your data is in capable hands and that your security is our top priority.

Schedule a demo to see our IAM Resilience Platform in action and explore Acsense’s solutions for safeguarding your identity provider.




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