Build Executive Buy-in for Zero Trust

August 16, 2022 | By IANS Faculty

With zero trust, every user (internal or external) must be authenticated, authorized and continuously validated before gaining (and keeping) access to corporate applications and data. It is still a relatively new cybersecurity strategy for many organizations, but with massive increases in remote working, digital transformation shifts and new inside threats, zero trust has become a critical requirement for fully secure organizations. 

Even though zero trust is fast becoming an essential component to security, internal adoption or buy-in can be difficult, and resistance to change is usually the first roadblock. Building a solid zero trust program that reaches across the organization requires complete leadership buy-in, the right expertise and staffing, and the ability to effect change management. Zero trust is a methodology, a way of being and a guideline for how the organization should operate. There are no shortcuts when starting a zero trust journey, and many security leaders encounter a lack of knowledge and expertise from both the executive and IT teams. 

Zero Trust Challenges 

A significant challenge in a zero trust network is balancing security with user productivity. In a perfectly safe model, a user would verify their identity with every task they want to do. This concept would involve re-signing into all accounts every time users would open a single email. Obviously, this idealized version would slow down productivity and ease of use for employees. 

Realistically, zero trust policies must be designed to choose when identification is important: It should be prioritized in areas with sensitive data and more lenient in low-risk areas. 

In addition, much time, planning and staff knowledge is required to build a seamless zero trust network. It also involves constantly validating security policies to ensure they’re working. Your security teams and IT groups should be prepared for some additional work in exchange for better cybersecurity via a zero trust network. 

Lastly, implementing a zero trust strategy involves organizational change management—and that requires executive buy-in. Alignment with leadership helps provide additional funding, expertise and staffing, and facilitates organizational adoption.  

Addressing any existing business adoption barriers requires informed communication for a smooth buy-in and launch process. 

DOWNLOAD: Zero Trust: A Step-by-Step Guide 


Secure Executive Buy-in for Zero Trust 

Some best practices for securing executive buy-in to launch a company-wide zero-trust strategy include: 

  • Highlight the tangibles. Zero trust networks provide numerous tangible results that should be highlighted, including improved incident metrics and proven industry risk mitigation statistics. 
  • Demonstrate the current risks. Your security posture might be weak in certain places. It may help to bring in an ethical hacker to emphasize these weaknesses and illustrate how a zero trust model fills these gaps. 
  • Focus on the strengths. A zero trust policy is all-encompassing, offering better monitoring and alerting, and it also helps prevent insider attacks. Zero trust makes data harder to exfiltrate, which is a huge selling point. 
  • Emphasize a gradual approach. Communicate and present a layered, thoughtful change management approach that will give both your security and IT groups enough time to implement changes while providing the executive team and organization peace of mind.  

A zero trust policy is a comprehensive strategy to keep your company’s data locked down. Some key benefits of implementing zero trust include the protection of all devices, users and resources, regardless of their location or status. 

To secure the organization, you’ll need to first “sell,” then launch and maintain a dynamic zero trust system that will continually fend off future malicious threats. 

Although reasonable efforts will be made to ensure the completeness and accuracy of the information contained in our blog posts, no liability can be accepted by IANS or our Faculty members for the results of any actions taken by individuals or firms in connection with such information, opinions, or advice. 

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