ATARC Zero Trust Lab sees ‘enormous’ participation as agencies shop for tools

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The Advanced Technology Academic Research Center has recorded “enormous” participation from vendors in its Zero Trust Lab, which is now expected to run at least another month, according to Government Chair Gerry Caron.

ATARC originally estimated about 30 vendors would showcase technical architectures and hardware and software solutions addressing 12 zero-trust scenarios identified by the government members of its Zero Trust Working Group, but that number rose to 54 tech companies.

The Cybersecurity Executive Order issued in May required agencies to begin moving toward zero-trust security architectures, which has them shopping around for tools addressing a variety of aspects like identity and access management, governance and automation.

“No one tool or no one vendor does all of zero trust that I know of,” said Caron, chief information officer of the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General, during the ATARC Federal CIO Virtual Summit on Tuesday. “So we asked them what their functional capabilities are, so we have a functional capabilities model.”

That model serves as an outline for the Zero Trust Lab’s 75-minute vendor presentations, a minimum of two being held every Friday. Vendors may put their software in a virtual environment from Acuity and a physical, data center environment from Equinix, both of which connect to the cloud.

Once all the presentations are finished, the Zero Trust Working Group will review what it’s seen, refine its conception of zero trust and the 12 use cases, and invite a few vendors back to demonstrate how they’re integrating multiple zero-trust tools — necessary work that’s only just begun, Caron said.

“For the government it’s a way for us to interact directly through ATARC and engage on this and I think influence and help provide output to some of the other government agencies and working groups as well,” Caron said. “So it’s been a very positive experience.”

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ATARC, Cybersecurity Executive Order, Gerald Caron, zero trust
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