More than half organisations fail to implement zero-trust initiatives: Fortinet

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Fortinet , a global leader in broad, integrated, and automated cybersecurity solutions unveiled the Global State of Zero Trust Report.

The survey reveals that while most organisations have a vision of zero trust or are in the process of implementing zero-trust initiatives, more than half of organisations cannot translate this vision into the solutions they are implementing because they lack some basic core fundamentals of zero trust.

A FortiGuard Labs Threat Landscape Report demonstrated an increase in the volume and sophistication of attacks targeting individuals, organisations, and increasingly critical infrastructure. Organisations are looking for solutions to protect against these evolving threats and zero trust is top of mind, but for multiple reasons. The shift to work-from-anywhere has put a spotlight on zero-trust network access (ZTNA) in particular, as organisations need to protect important assets from workers connecting from poorly protected home networks, the company said.

The report is based on a global survey of IT decision-makers aimed at better understanding how far along organisations are in their zero-trust journey. The survey is intended to better understand how well zero trust and ZTNA are understood, the perceived benefits and challenges in implementing a zero-trust strategy and adoption of and the elements included in a zero-trust strategy.

The survey was conducted in September 2021 with 472 IT and security leaders from 24 different countries, representing nearly all industries, including the public sector.

Confusion Over Defining Zero-Trust Strategies

The report outlines some confusion about what comprises a complete zero-trust strategy. Respondents indicated they understand zero trust (77 per cent) and ZTNA (75 per cent) concepts and over 80 per cent reported already having a zero-trust and/or ZTNA strategy in place or development. Yet, over 50 per cent indicated being unable to implement core zero-trust capabilities. Nearly 60 per cent indicated they do not have the ability to authenticate users and devices on an ongoing basis and 54 per cent struggle to monitor users post-authentication.

This gap is concerning because these functions are critical tenets of zero-trust and it brings into question what the actual reality of these implementations is across organisations. Adding to the confusion are the terms “Zero Trust Access” and “Zero Trust Network Access,” which are used sometimes interchangeably.

“With the evolving threat landscape, transition to work-from-anywhere, and the need to securely manage applications in the cloud, the shift from implicit trust to zero trust is top of mind for organisations. Our survey shows while most organisations have some form of a zero-trust strategy in place, they fall short of a holistic strategy and struggle to implement some core zero-trust security basics. An effective solution requires a cybersecurity mesh platform approach to address all zero-trust fundamentals across the infrastructure, including endpoint, cloud, and on-premises, otherwise the result is a partial, non-integrated solution that lacks broad visibility,” said Rajesh Maurya, Regional Vice President, India & SAARC at Fortinet.

Zero Trust Is Top of Mind and Priorities Are Varied

Priorities for zero trust are “minimising the impact of breaches and intrusions” followed closely by “securing remote access” and “ensuring business or mission continuity.” “Improving user experiences” and “gaining flexibility to provide security anywhere” were also top priorities.

“Security across the entire digital attack surface” was the single most important benefit cited by respondents, followed by a “better user experience for remote work (VPN).”

The report further explained that a vast majority of the survey respondents believe that it is vital for zero-trust security solutions to be integrated with their existing infrastructure, work across cloud and on-premises environments, and be secure at the application layer. However, more than 80 per cent of respondents indicated that it is challenging to implement a zero-trust strategy across an extended network. For organisations without a strategy in place or development, obstacles included a lack of skilled resources with 35 per cent of organisations using other IT strategies to address zero trust.

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