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3 Common Zero Trust Challenges – and How to Overcome Them

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Read more about author Jackson Shaw.

According to IBM, the average cost of a breach was $1.76 million less at organizations with a mature zero trust approach than those without. It’s understandable why this verify-first, trust-later mentality has gained steam over the last few years. And the reality is, that organizations don’t have much of a choice. The world saw an alarming 105% surge in ransomware cyberattacks last year (Sonic Wall), and that number will only continue to rise. 

While a zero trust framework can create a more secure environment that protects against unauthorized access to sensitive data and digital assets, it does not come without challenges. Knowledge workers can only thrive when they have access to the tools and applications they need to succeed. But zero trust roadblocks to access can –and often do – bring workflows to a halt. Access to sensitive data is part of the job, but if people change roles and find themselves locked out of pertinent files or applications, their work suffers. 

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This scenario is precisely what leads to three common challenges with zero trust rollouts: productivity, change, and collaboration. These are all vital components to business success, arguably as much as security is for protection, so it’s important for IT leaders to consider how a more stringent zero trust framework will impact these areas. Fortunately, with the right approach, these challenges are relatively easy to overcome, and may even have other business benefits in the process. 

1. Productivity 

Let’s face it: People are distracted. Hybrid and remote work environments, increasing use of business apps, constant pings, and beeps throughout our workdays and beyond all contribute to dwindling productivity. Workers are up against enough distraction, but mistakes in access policies can exacerbate that. Employees who lack access to the tools they need grow increasingly frustrated, and your business suffers. This is an identity problem and managing identity security alongside – not separate from – a zero trust framework can significantly accelerate remediation and reduce the loss of productivity.

By consolidating identity security and zero trust on a business platform, a lack of access can be flagged, investigated, and resolved through a single-pane-of-glass view. Employees will already be familiar with the workflows, which can help expedite processes further. Resolving access requests in one central repository, rather than using multiple tools and processes, makes life easier for everyone. As such, issues are resolved faster, and people can get back to doing what they do best: their jobs. 

2. Change

Between job hopping, resignations, new hires, promotions, layoffs, and boomerangs, talent changes fast. This requires control policies to be updated in near real-time as professional roles and titles evolve. It also involves granting and removing access to different systems, tools, and applications as the business changes. As such, to live up to its promise, a zero trust strategy must be fluid, accounting for constantly shifting needs. 

It may not seem like the end of the world, but every minute of lag time can leave organizations vulnerable to attack. By managing identity security on the same platform as the HR ticketing system, for example, you can ensure access policies are updated instantly, greatly reducing risk of a breach. Appropriate and timely access should be as important as getting an employees’ hardware setup. Otherwise, it’s your organization’s safety and output on the line. 

3. Collaboration

Much like good teamwork requires collaboration, so too do IT systems. As such, zero trust requires many IT functions and tools to work together seamlessly across an organization’s data, devices, network, applications, and users. But often, multiple products are not aligned, leaving security holes, organizational silos, and put simply, a mess. 

This is another reason business platforms can benefit zero trust rollouts. Platforms serve as an overarching system of action across an organization. They make the data and capabilities of every tool available through cross-functional workflows. When everything is on a platform, complete user security profiles live in one central location – regardless of the device, network, or application they’re using. In other words, the platform is the connective tissue between data security and business processes. 

Seventy-two percent of organizations around the world have either adopted zero trust or are in the process of planning or adopting it (Statista). While this is a valiant effort, smart organizations will get ahead of hurdles around productivity, constant administrative change, and how tools and people will collaborate, as a result. A platform approach makes it simple for organizations to start improving their security stance today, without sacrificing other important business initiatives.  

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