Zero Trust: Redefining Cybersecurity For The Evolving Business Environment

Fernando is a principal architect and tech evangelist, holds expertise in Consulting, Business Development, and Digital Media.

As the world becomes more digital and data-dependent, businesses are evolving to become future ready and adopting digital methods across functions. Naturally, cyber threats are a growing concern, across the world as well as in India. According to India’s Computer Emergency Response Team, the country faced 11.5 million cyber attack incidents in 2021. This threatens critical infrastructure like railways, airlines, power, communications, finance systems and beyond. As many businesses have proprietary and sensitive data that is susceptible to breaches, corporate assaults are also quite prevalent. The importance of cybersecurity has never been greater and staying abreast of emerging trends will help leaders to keep critical data and corporate processes secure.

Impact of COVID-19
Every industry was greatly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Organizations were forced to swiftly implement work-from-anywhere solutions, so they looked for the best IT strategies. The cloud emerged as the fundamental disruptive force that supported insights-based innovation to accelerate digital transformation and keep a competitive advantage. A 2021 Digital Readiness Survey found that 60% of firms reported their IT operations teams have expanded their use of the cloud as a result of the pandemic. Businesses now use emerging technology as a foundation to rethink the traditional business strategies that have helped them succeed in the past. They are looking for newer solutions to use their massive data quantities for future expansion.

As businesses evolve and more organizations embark on their digital transformation journey, the importance of cyber security will continue to rise

Challenges with digital transformation
Business executives must recognise that difficulties with digital transformation are not necessarily caused by issues with technology or technical obstacles. Organizational structures, human-centered challenges and other non-technology aspects matter too. Any company considering digital transformation or wanting to switch from traditional technologies to contemporary workflows should consider the value they want to create. Companies need to develop a more all-encompassing strategy for their digital transformation objectives than simply focusing on the problems. And cybersecurity continues to be the ultimate challenge demanding constant innovation and attention.

With increasing cyber threats, cybersecurity has become a necessity for businesses of all sizes and scale. At the same time, businesses are using more practical means to carry out their operations. For instance, data is now stored in the cloud. While cloud services are practical, businesses rarely sufficiently safeguard their data, thus increasing the risk of falling prey to a data breach. Businesses can no longer rely on easy solutions like firewalls or antivirus software to safeguard themselves from cybercriminals, who are growing more skilled every day.

An enterprise faces varied obstacles, from financial restrictions to poor strategy and inadequate IT skills to shifts in cultural mindsets. Setting up a fool-proof IT infrastructure that can survive cyberattacks is another critical consideration.

Redefining cybersecurity with Zero Trust
Small and large businesses must maintain strong security to safeguard their network and IT assets as they tread on the digital transformation journey. Zero Trust could be an effective framework to aid this journey. It assists with countless problems that arise with cloud/hybrid setups and remote working.

The Zero Trust architecture goes beyond the conventional ‘trust but verify’ approach to necessitate continuous authentication, authorisation and validation of users, whether inside or outside the network, before granting access to applications and data. Zero Trust has been offered as a solution to the most pressing security issues for businesses with hybrid workplaces or e-commerce environments.

What is the Zero Trust approach for businesses adopting digital transformation?
Zero Trust enables organizations to function safely and productively even when people and data are spread across settings and locations. Although there is no one-size-fits-all method for adopting the framework, most firms will start off by organizing the adoption process into three major steps:

1.Envision the business: Establishing a Zero Trust framework for a company starts with visualizing all its aspects and their interconnections. This necessitates a detailed analysis of the risks associated with the organization’s resources, access methods and usage. For instance, the finance department may have to access a database storing confidential client information, but weaknesses with such connections entail significant dangers. This process of evaluating and assessing resources and the need to access them will inevitably continue to develop as the company expands. The significance and risk attached to these elements will likewise evolve. Therefore, as the adoption of the framework progresses, businesses wishing to apply the Zero Trust framework should start with the areas they anticipate would be the most crucial and vulnerable.

2.Mitigate risks: Since all potential vulnerabilities, prospective threats, and attack routes are identified earlier, this phase prioritizes issues and tackles them one at a time. The business will establish processes and tools that automatically detect emerging vulnerabilities. In addition, there could be procedures that automatically thwart attacks or, if that is not feasible, minimize the impact (by, for example, restricting the data that would be revealed).

3.Optimize execution: At this stage, firms will expand procedures and standards to cover all facets of IT. The complexity of the organization and the resources put into the implementation will directly impact the speed of the rollout. It’s vital to evaluate the framework to verify efficacy and usability as it expands. When implementing security frameworks like Zero Trust, organizations should emphasize the user experience since failure to do so would result in non-compliance and lower productivity.

The biggest challenges companies face when implementing a Zero Trust framework are lack of data segmentation, funding, resource availability, and understanding. However, with Zero Trust gaining popularity, there are more partners, like Cloudflare, and resources available to assist companies.

As businesses evolve and more organizations embark on their digital transformation journey, the importance of cybersecurity will continue to rise. CISOs and IT executives cannot dispute that cyberthreats comprise a business risk that must be addressed. It is imperative, therefore, to set up a security architecture that is resilient, the way Zero Trust is, to strengthen their digital transformation.

Over the past decade, there has been a significant change in the business environment across the globe. While some business procedures in several industries have remained unaltered, others, including communication and transportation, have transformed. Businesses have a fresh perspective on how to engage with clients and this has been accompanied by a plethora of technological advancements. The adoption of remote applications and other technologies, the rapid development of the digital age, the emergence of social media for business, and the rise of the hybrid work environment have all reshaped the corporate environment. And cybersecurity is at its core.