Common Pitfalls Adopting Zero Trust Security

July 10, 2024 by
Mark Nash

Zero Trust security is seeing mass adoption across much of the cybersecurity landscape. Some statistics show that 56% of organizations globally consider adopting zero trust security to be a "High" priority initiative. And it is not hard to see why when you consider the significant security improvements that zero trust offers over traditional security models. However, it is not a transition that should be rushed into blindly, as there are several common mistakes that can severely limit zero trust's effectiveness if not implemented correctly. So, what are these common mistakes, and how do we avoid them to ensure a successful adoption of zero trust security?

What is Zero Trust Security?

The old traditional security model is often called "castle and moat" security, as there is only an outer layer of security that needs to be passed; once inside the network, trust is implicit. Zero trust security continuously assumes that anything on the network could be a potential threat and must be validated before accessing anything else on the network. There are three key practices that make zero trust significantly more secure than traditional security models:

  • Least Privilege: Even after users log in to the network, they only have access to the specific resources needed for their job.
  • Continuous Verification: Even after users log in to the network, they and their devices are constantly re-evaluated for access rights.
  • Micro-Segmentation: The network is divided into smaller isolated segments to limit potential damage if a breach occurs.

Common Mistakes in Zero Trust Implementation:

Treating Zero Trust Security as Just a Product

The first thing to internalize about zero trust is that it is not a software product but a set of security practices and philosophies that require adoption within your organization's culture. While numerous tools are used in a zero trust strategy, such as multi-factor authentication (MFA) and advanced threat detection and response, these are only parts that make up a greater whole.

Skipping the Inventory

In order to be capable of securing your network, you need to know what's on it and how it's accessed. Before you start any implementation of zero trust, catalog all your hardware, software, and users so you can identify potential access risks. This process can also help you catch any legacy systems on your network that would otherwise serve as silent cybersecurity landmines. Your inventory can also serve as a roadmap of everything that needs to be incorporated into your zero trust security, allowing you to avoid overcomplicating the process and take things one step at a time, beginning with critical areas and working outwards.

Focusing Only on Technical Controls

As mentioned in the first mistake, while technology is a crucial component in zero trust, it is only one part alongside people and processes. Perhaps even more important than the technological aspect is training your employees on the new security culture and updated access control policies. The human element is critical to any cybersecurity strategy. Empower your employees with regular security awareness training so they can actively participate in your zero trust security.

Ignoring Third-Party Access

Third-party vendors can provide valuable services to companies, but they can also be a security vulnerability if not handled with care. It is imperative to clearly define access controls and monitor the activity of any third party within your network.

Failing to Continue Updating

Security threats are constantly evolving, which means your cybersecurity will need to evolve as well in order to keep up. Continuously monitor your zero trust system and its effectiveness, adjusting your strategies as needed. Additionally, you should stay aware of the latest news and developments in the cybersecurity sphere so you can react accordingly.

The Rewards of a Secure Future

By avoiding these common mistakes in your implementation, your business will be able to take full advantage of zero trust security. Zero trust limiting access to sensitive data offers much stronger data protection than traditional security models, minimizing the potential damage a data breach could cause. Additionally, zero trust meets many industry regulations and compliance standards. Now that you have equipped yourself with this knowledge, hopefully, you feel ready to implement zero trust security for your organization while avoiding these common pitfalls. Doing so will go a long way toward building a more resilient business in the face of evolving cyber threats.