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The DoD ZT-RA, or Department of Defense Zero Trust Reference Architecture, plays a pivotal role as a crucial framework for the Department of Defense in its mission to protect sensitive data, operations, and assets from a diverse range of cyber threats. Unlike traditional security models that rely on the assumption of trustworthiness within the network, the evolving complexity of both internal and external threats necessitates a departure from such beliefs. Embracing a zero-trust approach ensures stringent authentication and continuous access monitoring, regardless of its source.

This article outlines how Pathlock assists DoD stakeholders in implementing the Zero Trust methodology, aligning seamlessly with the DoD ZTA-RA through a proven and scalable solution.

What is the DoD Zero Trust Reference Architecture?

The documents unveiled by the United States Department of Defense (DoD) concerning zero trust pertain to the Executive Order on Improving the Nation’s Cybersecurity, issued in May 2021. This directive instructs agencies to enact substantial transformations and investments to modernize their cybersecurity frameworks, with a specific emphasis on adopting zero-trust principles. Notably, the DoD Zero Trust Reference Architecture furnishes a collection of technical standards and guidelines for agencies to follow when conceptualizing and deploying zero trust systems.

How Pathlock Helps Achieve the Five Goals of the Zero Trust Reference Architecture

The DoD has outlined five goals for the DoD ZT-RA that Pathlock actively supports to enable effective security and defense of DoD information, systems, and infrastructure.

1. Modernize Information Enterprise to Address Gaps and Seams

Pathlock provides a risk-centric view of user activities across business applications and processes. This centralized visibility is essential for a zero-trust model, where it is paramount to understand who has access to what and what they’re doing with that access.

2. Simplify Security Architecture

As an integrated, cross-application solution, Pathlock removes the need for multiple disparate access control solutions for various applications and platforms. Pathlock offers a centralized solution that reduces the complexity of managing multiple systems, thereby simplifying the overall security architecture.

3. Produce Consistent Policy

A centralized policy management dashboard is a core capability of Pathlock. It allows administrators to define, review, and modify access policies from a single location. This ensures consistent policy application across all integrated systems.

4. Optimize Data Management Operations

Pathlock is a system that can combine access data from various systems within the DoD. This provides a comprehensive view of who has access to what, making data management more efficient. Additionally, Pathlock continuously monitors and periodically reviews user access to identify and remove redundant or unnecessary access permissions. This not only improves security but also simplifies data management operations by reducing unnecessary complexity.

5. Provide Dynamic Credentialing and Authorization

Pathlock continuously evaluates access requests against the set policies in real-time, ensuring that decisions are made based on the most recent data and context. This dynamic evaluation ensures that users only get access when and where appropriate. Furthermore, access decisions can be made based on contextual factors such as user location, device type, current role, recent activities, and more. This means that a user might be granted access under one set of circumstances but denied under another, adding a dynamic layer to the access control.

DoD Zero Trust Pillars

The DoD Zero Trust Reference Architecture defines seven Zero Trust Pillars, each mapping to various underlying requirements. Per the DoD ZT-RA, a Pillar is a key focus area for implementing Zero Trust controls. These seven pillars provide the foundations for a Zero Trust Security Model and the DoD Zero Trust Architecture.

  1. User: Verify and grant access for each session based on the user, access method, and resources, including real-time monitoring and encryption.
  2. Devices: Identify and authorize all accessing systems, maintain them through automated management, and ensure up-to-date security protocols and software.
  3. Applications & Workloads: Secure applications and their operational environments, including hypervisors and containers, with safe development and integration practices.
  4. Data: Encrypt data in transit and at rest, classify and label it for controlled access, monitoring, and loss prevention.
  5. Network & Environment: Use Software Defined Networking for detailed management and micro-segmentation, contrasting with traditional VPN macro-segmentation.
  6. Automation & Orchestration: Use automation for resource access and security responses, integrating IT management infrastructure for behavior-based remediation.
  7. Visibility and Analytics: Provide IT teams with comprehensive network insights and AI/ML-powered rapid response capabilities, including behavior analysis and external threat intelligence.

Download our Solution Overview to discover how the Pathlock suite of products addresses many of the DoD ZT RA requirements.

Reduce Access Risks in the Face of an Increasingly Complex Threat Landscape with Pathlock

Pathlock Cloud is an essential tool for implementing the Department of Defense’s Zero Trust Reference Architecture. As a leading provider of application access governance, Pathlock’s capabilities are perfectly aligned with the core principles of the Zero Trust model.

With its central policy management, Pathlock ensures consistent and unified access governance across different systems, enabling a more secure and streamlined environment. Its dynamic, context-aware authorization mechanisms provide real-time adaptive security and ensure that users have the appropriate access under the correct conditions.

Pathlock Cloud’s continuous monitoring, integration with external identity providers, and support for attribute-based access control enable businesses to maintain a robust security posture while optimizing data management operations. Adopting Pathlock provides organizations with an efficient, effective, and flexible way to navigate the complexities of the modern digital landscape, ensuring compliance with the principles of the ZT-RA.


The Department of Defense Zero Trust Reference Architecture (DoD ZT-RA) stands as a critical framework in the ongoing mission to safeguard sensitive data, operations, and assets from various cyber threats. Departing from traditional security models, the DoD ZT-RA emphasizes the importance of a zero-trust approach, ensuring rigorous authentication and continuous monitoring of access regardless of its origin.

Adopting Pathlock offers government organizations an efficient, effective, and flexible solution to navigate the challenges of the modern digital landscape, ensuring compliance with the principles of the DoD ZT-RA. As agencies strive to meet the substantial transformations and investments mandated by the Executive Order on Improving the Nation’s Cybersecurity, Pathlock stands as a trusted ally in fortifying cybersecurity frameworks and embracing the principles of Zero Trust.

Contact Pathlock today and schedule a customized demo to learn how we can help you address the DoD ZT-RA requirements.

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