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The Top Five Challenges of Zero Trust Security

The Top Five Challenges of Zero Trust Security

Blog Article Published: 05/24/2023

Written by Lior Yaari, CEO, Grip Security.

Originally published by Forbes.

Zero trust security is a model that has gained popularity as an effective solution to ensure that only authorized users can access critical information. With the rise of remote work and SaaS services, the traditional perimeter security models to protect endpoints and devices are no longer sufficient. Zero trust security is important as it provides a more comprehensive approach to security, ensuring that only authorized users can access the data or applications they need.

While zero trust security offers significant advantages over traditional perimeter-based controls, it also comes with its own set of challenges. Here are the top five challenges of zero trust security:

Erosion of traditional control points

Zero trust security follows a "never trust, always verify" principle, which means that every user and device must be authenticated before accessing a resource or data. This principle is dependent on a key assumption that the company controls the endpoint, network connection, or resource the user is trying to access. However, the reality is that more employees are working remotely and using SaaS services, and a company’s data and critical applications are increasingly beyond the enterprise perimeter. The result is that in many cases, the traditional control points are no longer effective.

Growth of Business-Led IT, a.k.a. Shadow SaaS

Shadow IT has now become shadow SaaS, and it is no longer considered a negative and often now referred to as business-led IT. No company provides their employees with every app needed, so employees go out and acquire the apps they need on their own. The challenge is that most of these apps do not go through an official purchasing process and are used outside of the governance security. The main benefit of business-led IT is the ease and speed of accessing the app. To integrate into a zero trust security framework would require weeks or months, which negates productivity and enterprise agility benefits.

Digital Supply Chain Vulnerability

Digital products are increasingly relying on SaaS services as key building blocks. This creates a network of systems that are connected through various networks and interfaces that can be extremely complex and requires a high level of trust. However, in a digital supply chain, it may not always be feasible to authenticate and authorize every entity involved in the supply chain due to the large number of participants and the dynamic nature of the interactions. For example, a manufacturer may have to rely on a third-party supplier for certain components, and this supplier may have its own set of suppliers and partners. Since zero trust relies on users, the risks of a digital supply chain are not covered.

Integrating Security Silos

Modern cybersecurity is extremely complex, and companies are constantly adding new products to address new threats. This has created an environment where most security products operate in silos, where different teams or departments within an organization are responsible for their own security, and they may not share information or collaborate with other teams. This can create blind spots and gaps in security, as well as lead to inconsistencies in policies and procedures that creates barriers to implementing zero trust security. For the framework to be effective, it requires a holistic view of security, where all parts of the organization work together to create a unified security architecture.

Single Source of Truth for Risk

Understanding risk is critical to zero trust security, and not having a single source of truth for risk can be a challenge because it can lead to inconsistencies and conflicts in risk assessments across different systems and departments. Today, risk is assessed from multiple viewpoints such as endpoint, network, user, application, etc., and there is no single source of truth. This can lead to conflicting risk assessments and result in users being granted access to resources they should not have access to or being denied access to resources they should have access to.

Overcoming the Challenges of Zero Trust Security

In a world where data, resources, and employees are outside the enterprise perimeter, identity security is emerging as the most critical control point. Strong identity security is the foundation for zero trust, but to achieve this requires the unification of security silos to deliver a strong foundation for authentication and authorization. Furthermore, identity security can help overcome the challenge of discovering, monitoring, and enforcing business-led IT policies, which provides employees the flexibility to use the app they need to be the most productive and deliver results.

Zero trust security is a powerful approach to cybersecurity that can help organizations protect their sensitive data, networks, and resources from advanced threats. However, implementing it requires addressing several challenges that, if unaddressed, will not deliver the security outcome companies are trying to achieve. By understanding these challenges and implementing effective solutions, organizations can achieve a robust and effective zero trust security model that can withstand even the most sophisticated cyber threats.

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