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Zero Trust: Agility in Authentication

3 November 2021

Since the beginning of COVID-19, organisations have rapidly changed.

The change has not only impacted how they work but also accelerated the digitisation of their organisation practices.

However, although this agility might speed up day-to-day activities, many of these solutions have been temporary fixes to long-term problems brought on by the global pandemic. 

This means that long-term strategies such as zero-trust need to be implemented in order to keep up.

How have organisations have changed organisation practices? And how has security become an organisation enabler and accelerator today?  

zero trust

The Beginning of the Covid Crisis: March 2020   

To meet the demands put onto organisations via shop closures, remote working, supply chain issues and more, organisations quickly realised that the immediate digitisation of their workplaces had to be swiftly completed. 

Moreover, in 2021, organisations recognised the need for digital processes, resulting in long-term investments in digital solutions and procedures.   

According to the McKinsey Global Survey of executives, many companies have:   

‘accelerated the digitisation of their customer and supply-chain interactions and internal operations by three to four years. And the share of digital or digitally enabled products in their portfolios has accelerated by a shocking seven years.’

Throwing organisations four to seven years ahead of schedule, COVID-19 has ensured that funding for digital initiatives is paramount; this includes an increase in budget for digital initiatives and employees in technology roles. 

Staying Competitive with Technology using Zero Trust

It is not just organisations that have moved to a more technologically focused day-to-day solution; customers have also changed how they shop to a more digitally orientated path. Like organisations above, customers’ rates at which more digital approaches have leapt forward during the COVID-19 crisis.   

Again, McKinsey article suggests that:   

‘Respondents are three times likelier now than before the crisis to say that at least 80 per cent of their customer interactions are digital in nature.’   

This rapid shift has forced companies to take a more digital approach to their organisation practices behind the scenes and from a customer perspective to stay competitive in this ever-growing digital environment.

Executives have found the benefit of technology as a critical component for organisations, having tested this digital approach during the crisis.   

The question is: how can organisations keep up with this technological growth safely and securely?   

Long-Term Strategies, Not Quick Wins   

During the COVID-19, organisations implemented security strategies to deal with the new way of working in the short term.

Therefore, they executed them as one-off projects to cover all bases. However, after COVID-19 lockdowns, organisations have found a need for long-term strategies for cyber security.   

OKTA suggests that:   

‘Today, global organisations have accepted that identity is the foundation on which security is built, and they’re focused on adopting solutions such as single sign-on (SSO) and multi-factor authentication (MFA) for their contractors, partners, and suppliers, along with advanced capabilities such as context-based access policies and passwordless authentication.’  

Long-term security strategies have become an increasing priority for organisations.

Security in Technological Advances   

One of the main problems arising from the technological advances implemented during COVID-19 is ensuring security works with the new technologies.   

There is a considerable correlation between companies who focused on zero trust before the pandemic (only 41% at the beginning of 2020) and today (a massive 90%). This correlation means that long-term cyber security strategies have become increasingly popular because of the covid crisis.   

Security Before the Pandemic and Today 

Although long-term cyber security policies have advantages, many organisations did not see the advantages of such security policies before COVID.

Over half of all organisations suggested that security policies were not a priority before the pandemic. However, the crisis removed this barrier.   

One of the main concerns for many organisations was implementing this security software to be too much of a shock to conventional ways of working and customers being resistant to these ways of working. However, as detailed above, the COVID-19 crisis has accelerated the digitisation of customer interactions. The effects of COVID have resulted in a staggering 3-year acceleration in customer digitisation globally.   

Technological Changes Staying for the Long Haul: Zero Trust   

Security is needed because of the significant increase in remote working.

Changing customer needs and individual customer preferences are here to stay.   

As organisations have made investments, precrisis bottlenecks have been removed, and virtual interactions are now the primary source of communication.

This longer-term shift in the way organisations work has shifted the prioritisation to the digital sphere, allowing investments in digital security.   

Final Thoughts   

COVID-19 has meant an increase in customer digitisation. There has also been a change in the use of technology because of the new ways of working.

However, this is not to say that we have reached the end of implementing strong security measures in the workplace.

As the economic and human situation evolves, the need for the latest and more efficient technologies always looms.

This brings the need for learning about these ever-evolving threat landscapes. 

The rate of customers and organisations digitisation is not slowing down, rather the opposite.

The need to remain one step ahead of malicious attackers by anticipating their next moves is critical to secure networks and developing future security measures.  

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