How to foster collaboration with the IT team for a successful zero trust implementation

The conversation surrounding deploying a zero trust strategy continues to gain importance following the announcement of President Biden’s recent Executive Order, which requires federal agencies to create a plan for adopting this security architecture. As more businesses in the private sector examine how to implement this prominent security policy effectively, questions remain on how to mitigate challenges and ease the difficulty of its deployment, use, and management.

zero trust implementation

The good news is enterprises don’t have to start from scratch. Instead, security teams can operate with current security resources and gradually implement strategic change as it is deemed appropriate. It is recommended that organizations start this process by mapping their ecosystem to better understand how data moves between systems and users.

How smooth this implementation goes boils down to one critical component — a strong partnership with the IT team. Security teams cannot deploy elements of zero trust on their own. They must enlist IT to help deploy software and stay on top of vulnerabilities and patches. Fortifying this key relationship will help security teams carry out the efficient transformation that properly secures the company.

Establish a culture of collaboration

When working in partnership with the IT team, forming an inclusive atmosphere and building a mutual understanding early on is key to the project’s long-term success. From the beginning of a zero trust implementation, security and IT teams should align on objectives and priorities, and incorporate insights from both sides throughout the decision-making process.

CISOs and CIOs have a responsibility to ensure the company remains secure. That means they need to create avenues for their teams to build an inclusive dynamic that will allow for a smoother transition to a zero trust model. This includes proactively addressing any potential competing priorities and aligning on the various skillsets of each team member before ultimately determining and assigning clear roles and responsibilities.

As with any major technology project, the IT team needs to have the capacity and understanding to perform different processes and support new software. Security teams must work with IT to understand what is feasible from the current team and any areas that must be outsourced, including whether there is financial backing to bring on additional help.

Highlight the value of zero trust for IT

A zero trust model is not just valuable for security – it also establishes process efficiencies that help IT teams work smarter. Security and IT teams share a goal to shield the business from as much risk as possible. Finding ways to continue to decrease risk is a clear advantage of working together to implement a zero trust strategy. When a cyberattack does hit an organization, it’s mitigation consumes a lot of resources.

IT teams are faced with a sizable amount of work following an attack, including removing the affected machines from service, employing a replacement and more. Therefore, diminishing the possibility of a breach would help IT teams save time and money. Implementing a zero trust strategy also reduces the burden placed on IT teams to respond to IT tickets involving lost passwords and employee account recovery and allows IT teams to resolve more business-critical issues.

Additionally, CIOs are often measured on their ability to implement process efficiencies and standardization that decreases total cost for the organization. While there is an initial upfront cost to invest in new zero trust technologies prior to doing away with outdated legacy infrastructure, security teams should explain the long-term cost reduction benefits IT teams can expect.

Transforming the technology and security infrastructure within an organization does not happen overnight. However, beginning with a collaborative foundation between security and IT assists in the successful implementation of a zero trust strategy. Given the considerable amount of time and patience needed during execution, a strong alliance between IT and security is imperative. Together, these teams can merge their skillsets to examine the legacy network, develop an understanding of the risk to the enterprise and ultimately reinforce the importance of zero trust to every employee.

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