Addressing Common Challenges in Zero Trust Security Implementation


As technology continues to develop, new security threats and solutions arise every day. On top of this, cybercriminals advance their tactics and attacks to the point of perfection.

Cyber crime rates and costs have reached an alarming amount in the last year. Also, cyber crime damage costs are expected to hit 8 trillion US dollars globally in 2023.

To combat the damages of these potential cybersecurity threats, businesses must implement top-notch security solutions and tools. One of these solutions is the latest technology development of Zero Trust security.

The trending Zero Trust security has become a necessity in cybersecurity among many businesses and sectors.

Nowadays, businesses also use Zero Trust as a service to match their hybrid or remote work environment.

Although Zero Trust provides waterproof security in terms of identification and authentication to mitigate threats, it isn’t perfect.

Zero Trust security implements the “trust none, verify all” mindset of Zero Trust in all of its processes. Although it is beneficial for many reasons in providing greater security, Zero Trust security poses its own challenges in implementation. Today, we will address the most common challenges in Zero Trust security implementation in detail.

What is Zero Trust Security?

Zero Trust security has been developed as a model that ensures only authorized users can access confidential files, sensitive data, and many other company resources as long as they prove their identity.

In fact, it is driven by a mantra of trusting no one and authenticating everything. That’s why, Zero Trust security establishes a robust framework for effective protection against all outsider and insider threats. 

Zero Trust security enables businesses to log and inspect network traffic, control access, verify the identity of authorized users, and ultimately secure network resources.

While safeguarding business assets and resources, Zero Trust security offers high adaptability to complex work environments.

Besides its benefit of enhanced security, Zero Trust security is also a great tool in risk mitigation and compliance.

It can restrict lateral movement, reduce the attack surface, and bridge security vulnerabilities while maintaining compliance with industry standards and regulations. Overall, Zero Trust security provides effective protection for businesses of all sizes.

With these benefits in mind, Zero Trust security implementation can be challenging. So, businesses must be aware of potential issues and mitigate related vulnerabilities as possible when implementing Zero Trust security solutions across their network. The most common issues regarding its implementation are as follows:

  • It requires ongoing administration and maintenance  
  • Ineffective and invalid traditional control points
  • Adaptation issues with legacy systems
  • Digital supply chain vulnerability
  • Possible productivity decrease
  • Multiple sources of truth for risk
  • Poor planning can cause security gaps and further vulnerabilities

Main Challenges of Zero Trust Implementation

1. Ongoing Administration and Maintenance is Required

One of the common challenges of Zero Trust security is that it requires ongoing administration and maintenance.

As the employees are hired, resign, and switch roles within the organization, administrators must update authorization to certain data and files to maintain secure access.

Especially big businesses must keep this in mind when implementing Zero Trust security into their network since their workforce may shift fast. 

In each change in authorized personnel, businesses must update access controls and permissions immediately.

Otherwise, businesses will be vulnerable to various threats and put their data at risk if unauthorized people have access to sensitive information.  

2. Traditional Control Points are Invalid and Ineffective

The Zero Trust principle assumes the company controls the endpoints, connections, or resources when authenticating users and devices before accessing company assets.

So, it relies on control points to verify authorization levels and monitor access. Since Zero Trust security is dependent on the “trust none, verify all” principle, all traditional control points become ineffective and invalid in most cases.

The reason is that most businesses now are using SaaS applications and have a remote workforce which results in leaving the company’s critical data beyond the network perimeter.

3. Adaptation Issues with Legacy Systems

Another challenge with Zero Trust security implementation is that not all legacy systems and applications are designed to operate with Zero Trust tools.

In other words, Zero Trust implementation can cause adaptation or configuration issues with legacy systems and applications.

For example, many legacy payroll network tools can’t operate with the principle of least privilege or microsegmentation.

So, when Zero Trust implementation with legacy systems isn’t possible, it will create gaps in security and many other vulnerabilities.

In this situation, businesses need to either deploy different security tools to protect them or replace their place in the network which will be costly and time-consuming. 

4. Digital Supply Chain Vulnerability

The interfaces and the network of systems become complex as digital products rely more and more on SaaS applications.

This structure needs a high level of trust. In the case of a digital supply chain that relies on SaaS applications, businesses can’t always authorize and verify the identity of every entity involved in the supply chain because it isn’t feasible to do so.

This issue is related to the dynamic nature of digital supply chains and the number of parties involved. That’s how the digital supply chain can be a challenge for Zero Trust implementation.  

5. Possibility of Hindering Productivity

Zero Trust security tools can affect productivity enormously. Restricting access without hindering productivity in the workflow is one of the biggest challenges of Zero Trust security solutions.

If immediate actions can’t be taken in the event of any role or authorization changes, employees might not be able to access sensitive data for work.

This will eventually lead to a decrease in productivity and even halt workflow. That’s why Zero Trust requires communication across the network’s all assets.

6. Multiple Sources of Truth for Risk

Zero Trust security utilizes multiple sources of truth for risk which can create inconsistencies and conflicts in assessments.

Risk management is a critical component of Zero Trust. That’s why having multiple sources of truth can be a challenge for its implementation.

Every entity such as users, networks, and applications can be used as sources of truth nowadays. So, businesses must ensure correct risk assessments and manage access at all times.

Final Remarks

With the cloud and SaaS applications rising in popularity, Zero Trust security is trending worldwide now. While it offers many benefits to businesses, Zero Trust security implementation has its own challenges.

If companies don’t take the necessary precautions, these challenges can cause more cybersecurity threats and damage to their business.

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