Elevating organizational trust with Zero Trust

Security is at the heart of consumer trust

For organizations of all sizes and sectors, a lack of trust could become a big expense. To build and maintain trust, organizations must recognize that security can’t be an afterthought but rather, a fundamental element that needs to be at the core of their operations.

Organizations have reaped both the benefits and opportunities of digital transformation. It has, however, also made organizations more vulnerable to cyber threats and attacks. Data theft, ransomware attacks, supply chain breaches, and other forms of threats have not only resulted in financial losses but have also destroyed customer trust. These incidents have an impact on business relationships with customers, employees, partners, and vendors, among other stakeholders. Organizations must realize that security breaches have, not only financial repercussions but also harm reputation and trust, affecting customer and commercial opportunities.

Recent reports have highlighted the negative impact of cyber threats and attacks on organizations. According to IBM and the Ponemon Institute’s 2023 cost of a data breach study, the average cost per data breach globally reached a record high of $4.45 million which emphasizes the urgent need for organizations to prioritize security and take proactive measures to mitigate cyber risks.

Building a security-first culture

A security-first culture is one in which security is everyone’s responsibility.

Organizations must cultivate this culture within their organization if they are to effectively address the changing threat landscape and increase trust. Moreover, many organizations hesitate to speak about being a victim of a cyber attack for fear that it might result in a loss of goodwill, revenue, and trust among customers.

The first step is to educate employees on the principles of cyber security. Employees should be trained to identify phishing emails, recognize social engineering techniques, and understand the importance of strong passwords and data protection. By instilling cyber security awareness and knowledge, organizations can empower their employees to be the first line of defense against cyber threats. Organizations should include and employ dedicated cyber security leads across departments, who can drive change, ensure adherence to security policies, and maintain transparency across the organization.

Although a security-first culture can be challenging at first, it is beneficial to your organization in the long run.

The role of Zero Trust in building trust

Zero Trust challenges the traditional perimeter-based security architecture. The term, originally coined by Forrester Research, runs on the principle of ‘Never Trust, Always Verify’. Zero Trust security is an IT security architecture that strictly verifies the identities of each person and device seeking to access resources on a private network, whether they are within or outside the network perimeter.

Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA) is the main technology associated with Zero Trust architecture, but Zero Trust is a holistic approach to network security that incorporates several different principles and technologies. This method adds a layer of protection to limit the possibility of lateral movement within a network, potentially minimizing the effects of a security breach.

According to insights revealed by this Gartner report on ransomware attacks, 60 percent of organizations will embrace Zero Trust as a starting point for security by 2025. A recent survey by IDC also revealed that 77.8 percent of enterprises in the BFSI vertical have already implemented solutions and policies enabling software-defined perimeter, whereas 52.2 percent are looking towards adopting and investing in SD-Branch components, and 54.4 percent are planning to implement a Zero Trust architecture and invest in related security solutions.

Traditional security strategies are no longer adequate to safeguard organizations from today’s complex and changing cyber threats. In a world where attacks may emerge from both internal and external sources, the perimeter-based security approach, which depends on trusting entities within the network, is no longer viable. A Zero Trust approach is ideal for organizations because it can significantly aid in fostering a security-first culture in the workplace by increasing productivity, transparency, and data authenticity.

Each employee within the network perimeter must first authenticate their identity before being granted access to sensitive information, which imposes responsibility and accountability on their part.

A Zero Trust security model offers numerous advantages beyond traditional security solutions, including:

  • Enhanced productivity: Unlike traditional models, Zero Trust minimizes the potential damage to digital assets and credentials by limiting access to critical information. This allows teams to work remotely, leading to increased productivity.

  • Improved reliability: Traditional security frameworks often struggle to handle complex algorithms used by modern websites and browsers. In contrast, the Zero Trust system verifies users and devices thoroughly, enabling smoother navigation and a better user experience.

  • Transparency: Zero Trust allows organizations to verify users at every stage, enabling the detection of unusual behavior and prompt mitigation of potential data breaches.

  • Data protection and authenticity: Zero Trust prevents attackers from gaining unauthorized access to digital assets and adds additional verification layers to combat phishing attempts.

  • Reduced risks: With strict identity and access verification in place, Zero Trust significantly lowers the risk associated with unauthorized access to assets. This also simplifies the tracking and evaluation of security breaches.

In an era where data breaches and cyber attacks are pervasive and prevalent, organizations need a proactive and comprehensive security strategy like Zero Trust to safeguard their valuable assets, protect customer data, and maintain the trust of stakeholders.

Building a trustful organization with Zero Trust will require a cultural shift towards a security-first mindset, where security is everyone’s responsibility. By implementing this security approach, organizations can strengthen their security stance, establish trust with their stakeholders, and better protect themselves against cyber attacks and threats. Zero Trust is an ongoing process, and organizations must remain vigilant in updating and assessing their security controls to stay ahead of emerging threats.

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 CIO Influence


Jonathon Dixon
Vice President and MD, APJC, Cloudflare

Key takeaways

After reading this article you will be able to understand:

  • The shift required to building a trustful organization with Zero Trust

  • A security-first culture is one in which security is everyone’s responsibility

  • Traditional security strategies are no longer adequate to safeguard organizations from today’s complex and changing cyber threats

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