A digital native mindset to cyber security

Cyber attacks are increasing in frequency and sophistication. In this landscape, it’s clear that businesses need to develop IT security strategies that can not only respond when attacks occur, but also prevent them from happening.

We’ve seen a shift in the strategies employed by organizations regarding their approach to cyber security — adopting a triple focus on people, applications, and networks. Within this context, the Zero Trust security framework has become an increasingly popular approach.

This security model is best placed to meet increasingly complex data protection needs given its emphasis on Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA), which requires continuous verification, even within the network perimeter, a departure from the traditional castle-and-moat approach.

That said, widespread adoption of this model relies on the curiosity of businesses that truly understand the potential of new technologies. Digital native businesses (DNBs) are particularly relevant in this regard, with their reliance on tech-driven operating models making them leading candidates to advance Zero Trust.

What’s more, research suggests the global average cost of a single data breach is over $4 million. This makes the adoption of this technology all the more pressing for every organization, with digital businesses needing to pay particularly close attention – as they have even more to lose.

By adopting Zero Trust within IT security, traditional organizations who adopt a digital native mindset will be primed to differentiate themselves from competitors by showcasing their commitment to innovation. They will be able to show their business that they are adopting modern approaches to data security; thereby helping them to achieve their goals in accelerating their security transformation agenda.

A case in point very recently was a major government healthcare provider who, whilst mandated to use Virtual Private Networks (VPN), instead adopted ZTNA combined with advanced Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR) to successfully provide visibility and control to better protect themselves against the global threats out there.

Embracing technology - a core tenant of identity

It may be helpful to talk a little about the mindset that digital native businesses possess. They are defined by their adaptability and willingness to learn. Unlike some traditional businesses that have been slower to undergo digital transformation, these organizations have chosen to embrace new technologies as a core part of their identity.

This applies even more so to cyber security, with DNBs being highly conscious of the need to protect personal data in ways that embrace new technology. Being heavily reliant on technology to run their business, they have acute knowledge of the consequences of data breaches for all involved. DNBs are triggering a change in the discussion around cyber security by focusing their attention on forming a robust security culture.

With a heavy focus on all things digital, these organizations also contribute to inspire market verticals such as retail, banking, and insurance to speed up their own digital transformation. This encouragement can only be viewed as positive, and industries will continue to inspire one another to provide the best tools and services to their customers.

Savvy businesses understand that by establishing trust as a starting point, they can deliver greater value to their audience. If clients and consumers are confident that businesses can protect their information, they’ll stand to gain through improving customer experiences and ultimately securing greater revenue.

How digital natives advance Zero Trust

Digital-first businesses equipped with a deep understanding of cyber security risks prioritize seamless IT experiences that prioritize user needs. Recognizing the significance of data — they align seamlessly with the Zero Trust approach.

By adopting this model, businesses stand to gain several advantages and can contribute to a safer environment for all. Here are the top 5 benefits of Zero Trust that digital natives have taken advantage of:

  1. A focus on user experience. By eliminating the VPN and replacing it with ZTNA, digital natives are removing unnecessary steps in the way of a user. By integrating ZTNA with strong authentication and inexpensive hardware security, organizations are able to achieve the double win of better user experience AND a better security posture – an outcome rarely seen in the tech industry.

  2. Understanding the importance of data security. With users only permitted access to the information they need and that need continuously re-evaluated, Zero Trust architectures provide a strong insurance policy against lost or stolen data in the event of a security breach. Zero Trust can radically reduce the ‘blast radius’ of a data breach by limiting the access the stolen credentials provide an attacker.

    Considering the significant cost of a single cyber-incident, implementing this framework constitutes money well spent given the reduced operational risk. This applies even more to DNBs, which rely on cloud-based solutions (SaaS, IaaS, and PaaS) to process and store their data.

  3. Embracing a dynamic and distributed environment. Zero Trust also acknowledges the shift in the modern IT landscape, with the rise of cloud services, remote work becoming ‘the norm’, and mobile devices rendering the traditional network perimeter obsolete.

    While Zero Trust requires continuous verification of users, devices, and network traffic before granting access, DNBs have already proven their familiarity with the components involved in distributed infrastructures. This makes them well-suited to understand and navigate modern IT environments.

  4. Accepting the need for continuous monitoring and authentication. Given the emphasis on constantly monitoring and authenticating users, devices, applications, and network traffic, Zero Trust is also well placed to serve DNBs already acquainted with security measures like multifactor authentication and biometrics. This makes them more likely to accept and adapt to the ongoing verification processes demanded by Zero Trust.

  5. Embracing SASE for user-centric and context-aware security. When operating as part of a secure access service edge (SASE) framework, Zero Trust also considers contextual factors for access decisions.

    These include the user’s location, time of day, enterprise security standards, compliance policies, and an ongoing evaluation of overall risk when granting access. DNBs, accustomed to personalized experiences and context-aware technologies, appreciate the benefits of these security measures and adapt their behaviors accordingly.

Implementing Zero Trust security

As businesses strive to protect their assets, prevent data breaches, and earn the trust of their customers, it’s crucial to prioritize a digital native mindset and embrace the principles of Zero Trust for a secure future. This will provide a strong security posture and add value to businesses by fostering innovation, safeguarding sensitive information, and promoting brand loyalty.

Digital native businesses are uniquely positioned to drive adoption of this security framework, with their inherent understanding of cyber security risks and commitment to data protection aligning perfectly with the core principles of ZTNA.

Although it may sound deceptively complex, adopting a Zero Trust security model can be relatively simple by partnering with the right technology providers. For instance, it’s possible to implement SASE platforms that combine networking services with a built-in Zero Trust approach to user and device access, while customers automatically implement Zero Trust protection around all their assets and data.

This, in turn, boosts innovation, enhances customer experiences, fosters brand loyalty, and drives the overall success of businesses in an increasingly interconnected and vulnerable world, transforming threats into opportunities.

This article is part of a series on the latest trends and topics impacting today’s technology decision-makers.

This article was originally produced for Business Reporter

Dive deeper into this topic.

Learn more about Zero Trust and how to get started with the Step-by-step roadmap to Zero Trust architecture guide.


Dave Barnett
Head of SASE, Cloudflare

Key takeaways

After reading this article you will be able to understand:

  • The shift towards Zero Trust for cyber security

  • How digital natives are triggering a change in cyber security with a focus on security as a culture

  • 5 benefits of Zero Trust to modern security strategies

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