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Challenges to achieve Regulatory Compliance with Zero trust

Regulatory Compliance & Zero-Trust, though two independent terms go hand-in-hand with each other when it comes to their application and functionality. Both in their own characteristics are important to an organization for it to be compliant and just with the entities such as data & security, the only problem is the complexity they pose during their implementation. It is very important to correctly interpret the meaning, advantages & disadvantages posed by either of them. But if done correctly both Regulatory Compliance and Zero Trust can help increase overall levels of security and reduce security complexity and operational overhead.

Regulatory Compliance in Terms of Cyber Security

In general Regulatory Compliance are the laws, regulations, and guidelines a company must adhere to. Some regulations are specifically for particular firms, and some are more global and can be applied to various industries and organizations such as GDPR(General Data Protection Regulation), CCPA(California Consumer Protection Act), and much more.

Regulatory Compliance in terms of Cyber Security is simply adhering to 3 commonly known principles in the said arena which are Confidentiality, Integrity & Availability otherwise known as The CIA triad.

Cybersecurity is a critical component of compliance, it facilitates organizations to operate righteously and apply every norm for all the digital assets and data. Oftentimes there is difficulty in the interpretation of these regulations by the operations teams. Organizations such as NIST(National Institute of Standards and Technology) help the customers and enable the administrators & stakeholders to meet the compliance requirements.

Challenges Faced while Enforcing Regulatory Compliance

Most of the time companies unknowingly misconfigure the cybersecurity standards due to the focus on applying required compliance standards. The reason for this is the complexity behind the whole system.

In terms of security, one must keep in mind that “Compliance is not Security” and though regulation may keep an organization complaint with respect to Data & Security it does not guarantee greater protection from the evolution of Cyber-threats.

In most cases, the first and foremost problem that is encountered while enforcing Regulatory compliance is the lack of expertise in implementing these compliances. Regulations such as GDPR, HIPPA, CCPA, FACTA, etc contain hundreds of pages of documentation and how they must be kept in place to prevent any kind of violations. The online world is littered with Standards & Best Cybersecurity Practices which could be overwhelming for a company and the administrator at work. A proper understanding of these regulations must be done so as to remain ahead in the race of today’s ever-evolving technical landscape. 

Zero Trust: A practical paradigm for Cybersecurity

Zero trust is a type of framework that allows organizations to create an infrastructure where the users are authenticated, authorized & continuously validated against various security configurations before granting them access to required resources.

Broadly speaking the working of Zero Trust can be categorized into 3 main principles that are Explicit Verification, Least Privileged Access & Breach Assumption.

Zero trust framework can be implemented On-Premise, Cloud as well on Hybrid business solutions, by this Zero trust becomes a global configuration framework that not only provides flexibility based on the existing architecture but also rigid security policies.

Challenges Faced in Zero Trust

Moving from Traditional Control Points to SaaS-based Services: Zero Trust works on “Never Trust, Always Verify”, this is true when a company controls the endpoints, network connections & the resources users are trying to access. But with the dawn and increasing popularity of the Cloud more users are shifting the workspace to SaaS-based services which makes it hard for the administrators to manage whatever there is on the Cloud side. This leaves the Zero Trust policy in a shade where there is only a limited amount of things that can be enforced. 

Vulnerability in Digital Supply Chain: Since Zero Trust relies heavily on authenticating and authorizing the users, in Digital Supply Chain this could be a little complicated as multiple networks are interconnected, with users having dynamic interactions. Therefore in the middle of all this, some users might be free from the policy of authentication and authorization and that’s what an Adversary could take advantage of.

Security Silos: Due to the complexity of the services business offers today each department is integrating independent security solutions thereby isolating each developing environment from one another. This might sound useful in terms of productivity but is the opposite for applying the Zero Trust strategy, this is because of the lack of communication between each department which ultimately leads to the depreciation of well implemented Zero Trust Policy throughout the company.

Challenges in Implementing Regulatory Compliance with Zero Trust

Data Privacy Regulations: Regulatory frameworks like the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) impose strict requirements for handling and protecting personal data. Implementing Zero Trust may involve collecting and analyzing significant amounts of user and device data, which must be done in compliance with applicable data privacy laws. Organizations must ensure that data handling practices, such as data retention, consent management, and individual rights, are appropriately addressed.

In recent years the complexity and difficulty in maintaining regulatory compliance has grown significantly mainly due to 2 reasons, one regarding the changing regulatory landscape and another growing I.T Networks.

Apart from managing access to the company’s resources Zero Trust also deals with managing data across the organization. This allows for compliance based on Zero Trust.

Some challenges can be attributed to the reason that most of the companies still have to update their legacy computing frameworks to fulfill the requirements posed by regulations such as GDPR & CCPA.

Other than the regulation another challenge is posed due to the complexity of having fragmented computing environments composed of both Private networks and public networks which can also be understood by Internal Corporate networks and Cloud-based Networks respectively.

One can directly be linked to the implementation of the Zero trust policy by which if a particular application or device does not meet the demands set by Zero trust then that application will not be allowed to be used by anyone across the organization, which could indeed be an important application otherwise.

With regards to the Zero Trust policy, one point of failure could be with the principle of Least Privilege because of the rise of a new paradigm of Work from home which could account for the breach of the said principle due to employee negligence and therefore not only deprecating the policy of Zero trust but also violating various regulation linked to Zero Trust architecture.