White Paper
12 min

Evolving the Zero-Trust Security Model for Business

An effective approach can help organizations get the most out of their zero-trust security initiatives.

IN THIS ARTICLE


Buck Bell | John Candillo | Gary McIntyre | Jeremiah Salzberg | Jeremy Weiss


The cybersecurity landscape evolves constantly, and as the concept of zero-trust security has emerged in recent years, it has evolved as well. This evolution can be seen clearly in the updates that agencies such as the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency and the National Institute of Standards and Technology have made to their guidance around zero trust.

As zero trust continues to evolve, it is best viewed as a strategic approach to security that delivers clear business value. It’s not a product that an organization can purchase to be a magic bullet against security challenges. Rather, it is a framework that can lead organizations to significant benefits such as an enhanced user experience, improved business agility and reduced risk.

Achieving zero trust requires a transformation in culture. Tools such as effective identity and access management solutions are necessary, but they must be deployed strategically and integrated with other elements, such as data governance. Among the most critical use cases for zero trust are implementing principles within an organization’s backup and recovery systems, enhancing the secure experience of remote workers and securing complex cloud infrastructures. When done effectively, zero trust can help leaders make more strategic investments in security and more naturally achieve regulatory compliance.

What are your next steps with zero trust?
CDW’s Rapid Zero Trust Maturity Assessment
can help you see the path.

The cybersecurity landscape evolves constantly, and as the concept of zero-trust security has emerged in recent years, it has evolved as well. This evolution can be seen clearly in the updates that agencies such as the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency and the National Institute of Standards and Technology have made to their guidance around zero trust.

As zero trust continues to evolve, it is best viewed as a strategic approach to security that delivers clear business value. It’s not a product that an organization can purchase to be a magic bullet against security challenges. Rather, it is a framework that can lead organizations to significant benefits such as an enhanced user experience, improved business agility and reduced risk.

Achieving zero trust requires a transformation in culture. Tools such as effective identity and access management solutions are necessary, but they must be deployed strategically and integrated with other elements, such as data governance. Among the most critical use cases for zero trust are implementing principles within an organization’s backup and recovery systems, enhancing the secure experience of remote workers and securing complex cloud infrastructures. When done effectively, zero trust can help leaders make more strategic investments in security and more naturally achieve regulatory compliance.

What are your next steps with zero trust?
CDW’s Rapid Zero Trust Maturity Assessment
can help you see the path.

The Zero-Trust Security Landscape

Cyberattacks are growing in volume and sophistication, leaving IT leaders scrambling to identify and adopt effective security solutions that will keep their data and systems safe. At the same time, the network perimeter has effectively disappeared, meaning it is no longer effective for organizations simply to protect their environments from outside attacks. Instead, security professionals must operate under the assumption that environments have already been compromised, then prevent cybercriminals from attacking their networks from the inside.

Enter zero trust.

In just a few years, zero trust has gone from a relatively little-known industry concept to a foundational element of modern cybersecurity strategy. This shift is a response to a rapidly evolving digital landscape that now incorporates cloud computing, continuous development and deployment practices, mobile connectivity and widespread remote work.

In government, the 2021 executive order mandating zero trust pushed federal agencies to catch up with modern strategies and embrace new technologies. However, the model is becoming increasingly popular in other industries, especially those that are subject to strict data safety regulations. For example, according to Okta’s The State of Zero Trust Security 2023 report, 84 percent of software firms increased their budgets for implementing zero-trust measures over the previous year. That number was 81 percent for healthcare organizations and 80 percent for financial services companies.

61%

The percentage of organizations that had a defined zero-trust security initiative in place in 2023, up from just 24 percent in 2021

Source: Okta, The State of Zero Trust Security 2023, October 2023



Although many organizations are early in their zero-trust journeys, those that have begun to implement their strategies are already seeing significant benefits. For instance, zero trust is creating a better user experience for remote workers. By adopting solutions such as a secure access service edge or enhancing and streamlining their application sign-on process, organizations can provide identical experiences to their in-office and remote employees.

A well-defined zero-trust strategy can also help organizations save money, even as they improve their overall cybersecurity posture. By focusing security professionals’ efforts on a strategic model, zero-trust architecture can eliminate waste and redundancy while also reducing and isolating risk.

Ready to take the next step
in your zero-trust journey? CDW can help.

The Zero-Trust Security Landscape

Cyberattacks are growing in volume and sophistication, leaving IT leaders scrambling to identify and adopt effective security solutions that will keep their data and systems safe. At the same time, the network perimeter has effectively disappeared, meaning it is no longer effective for organizations simply to protect their environments from outside attacks. Instead, security professionals must operate under the assumption that environments have already been compromised, then prevent cybercriminals from attacking their networks from the inside.

Enter zero trust.

In just a few years, zero trust has gone from a relatively little-known industry concept to a foundational element of modern cybersecurity strategy. This shift is a response to a rapidly evolving digital landscape that now incorporates cloud computing, continuous development and deployment practices, mobile connectivity and widespread remote work.

61%

The percentage of organizations that had a defined zero-trust security initiative in place in 2023, up from just 24 percent in 2021

Source: Okta, The State of Zero Trust Security 2023, October 2023



Although many organizations are early in their zero-trust journeys, those that have begun to implement their strategies are already seeing significant benefits. For instance, zero trust is creating a better user experience for remote workers. By adopting solutions such as a secure access service edge or enhancing and streamlining their application sign-on process, organizations can provide identical experiences to their in-office and remote employees.

A well-defined zero-trust strategy can also help organizations save money, even as they improve their overall cybersecurity posture. By focusing security professionals’ efforts on a strategic model, zero-trust architecture can eliminate waste and redundancy while also reducing and isolating risk.

Ready to take the next step
in your zero-trust journey? CDW can help.

The State of Zero-Trust Security: By the Numbers

65%

The percentage of cybersecurity professionals who say they are prioritizing multifactor authentication, more than any other zero-trust control

Source: Cybersecurity Insiders, 2023 Zero Trust Security Report, March 2023

65%

The percentage of IT leaders who cite broader data security and better detection of advanced threats and attacks as a reason for implementing zero-trust architecture

Source: Zscaler, The State of Zero Trust Transformation 2023, December 2022

38%

The percentage of organizations that rank people as the top priority for their security projects, followed by network (19 percent) and data (17 percent)

Source: Okta, The State of Zero Trust Security 2023, October 2023

The State of Zero-Trust Security: By the Numbers

65%

The percentage of cybersecurity professionals who say they are prioritizing multifactor authentication, more than any other zero-trust control

Source: Cybersecurity Insiders, 2023 Zero Trust Security Report, March 2023

65%

The percentage of IT leaders who cite broader data security and better detection of advanced threats and attacks as a reason for implementing zero-trust architecture

Source: Zscaler, The State of Zero Trust Transformation 2023, December 2022

38%

The percentage of organizations that rank people as the top priority for their security projects, followed by network (19 percent) and data (17 percent)

Source: Okta, The State of Zero Trust Security 2023, October 2023

cdw

Zero-Trust Challenges

Many leaders recognize the value of zero-trust architecture but are unsure how to implement, prioritize and budget for it. Expert partners such as CDW can help clarify ways to create a detailed strategy around established principles, where to begin building a strong foundation and how to incorporate existing security solutions.

DEMONSTRATE FULL IT VALUE: Leaders seeking support for zero-trust initiatives need to communicate their value. Some find this challenging because zero trust is an overarching philosophy rather than a clearly defined endeavor with a limited scope. In addition to stronger security, this approach simplifies network architecture and increases IT visibility, which leads to greater efficiency.

USE BIG-PICTURE BUDGETING: Creating accurate near-term and long-term budgets for zero-trust initiatives can be difficult when organizations are just getting started. Establishing an effective foundation may require additional investments but can also reduce technical debt as older technologies are retired. Generally, organizations can use existing tools and increase their efficacy within the zero-trust framework.

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BUILD MATURITY OVER TIME: Organizations will need to align their zero-trust strategy with established guidance, setting a baseline for maturity and increasing capabilities over time. At the optimal level, organizations have the foundational components with advanced capabilities in place — people, processes and technologies — and know how to apply zero-trust principles consistently to new and changing environments.

FOCUS ON PRIORITY DOMAINS: Organizations may want to start with a specific domain, such as identity and access management — a prerequisite for zero-trust architecture. Without a solid method for establishing identity, organizations can’t move to the next step, which is configuring who should have access to what. These capabilities are defining features of a zero-trust environment.

FOLLOW THE RIGHT SEQUENCE: It can be difficult to achieve visibility across all data lifecycles, data sprawl and unstructured data, but organizations need a clear picture of the flow: where data lives, who accesses it and which systems talk to each other. Visibility and governance are essential to understanding risk in order to define and enforce the appropriate policies and standards.

cdw

Zero-Trust Challenges

Many leaders recognize the value of zero-trust architecture but are unsure how to implement, prioritize and budget for it. Expert partners such as CDW can help clarify ways to create a detailed strategy around established principles, where to begin building a strong foundation and how to incorporate existing security solutions.

DEMONSTRATE FULL IT VALUE: Leaders seeking support for zero-trust initiatives need to communicate their value. Some find this challenging because zero trust is an overarching philosophy rather than a clearly defined endeavor with a limited scope. In addition to stronger security, this approach simplifies network architecture and increases IT visibility, which leads to greater efficiency.

USE BIG-PICTURE BUDGETING: Creating accurate near-term and long-term budgets for zero-trust initiatives can be difficult when organizations are just getting started. Establishing an effective foundation may require additional investments but can also reduce technical debt as older technologies are retired. Generally, organizations can use existing tools and increase their efficacy within the zero-trust framework.

Click Below to Continue Reading

arrow

BUILD MATURITY OVER TIME: Organizations will need to align their zero-trust strategy with established guidance, setting a baseline for maturity and increasing capabilities over time. At the optimal level, organizations have the foundational components with advanced capabilities in place — people, processes and technologies — and know how to apply zero-trust principles consistently to new and changing environments.

FOCUS ON PRIORITY DOMAINS: Organizations may want to start with a specific domain, such as identity and access management — a prerequisite for zero-trust architecture. Without a solid method for establishing identity, organizations can’t move to the next step, which is configuring who should have access to what. These capabilities are defining features of a zero-trust environment.

FOLLOW THE RIGHT SEQUENCE: It can be difficult to achieve visibility across all data lifecycles, data sprawl and unstructured data, but organizations need a clear picture of the flow: where data lives, who accesses it and which systems talk to each other. Visibility and governance are essential to understanding risk in order to define and enforce the appropriate policies and standards.

What are your next steps with zero trust? CDW’s Rapid Zero Trust Maturity Assessment can help you see the path.