Cybersecurity CISO C-suite

CISOs must convince their C-suite to get on board with zero trust

Pallavi Vishwakarma

Member of Technical Staff

Feb 09 2023

3 min reading

CISOs must convince their C-suite to get on board with zero trust
Figure 1

A strong cybersecurity plan is now essential as cyber threats escalate in complexity and frequency. According to the zero-trust security model, all users, gadgets, and apps must first authenticate and receive authorization before being granted access to a network. No matter if an access request comes from within the company or outside of it, it is assumed that everyone could pose a threat.


So, to implement zero-trust security the CISO must convince their C-suite to adopt a method to grant access to the digital systems based on principles, not roles. Before moving forward in convincing your C-suite to adopt the zero-trust model you must have a clear understanding is what’s the problem with the role-based method and how the principle base can help to overcome this.


The problem with the role-based approach:


A popular technique for controlling who has access to resources in an organization is role-based access control (RBAC). With RBAC, users are given particular responsibilities, and those roles have corresponding permissions that dictate what resources the user can access.


However, RBAC is frequently static, which means that a user's duties and permissions are determined by their position in the organization or by their job title. This may result in either underprivileged users who lack access to resources necessary for their jobs or overprivileged users who have access to resources they don't need.


Also, RBAC only permits granting or denying permissions at a high level of granularity. This means that even if users only require access to particular features or data within certain systems or applications, they may however be given access to whole systems or apps.


With large and complex organizations, the number of roles and associated permissions can become unmanageable. Adding new roles, removing old roles, and managing permissions for each role can become a daunting task. This can lead to confusion and errors, making it challenging to ensure that all users have the correct permissions.


How principle-based approach solve the problem?


Principle-based access control (PBAC) is an access control approach that places less emphasis on individual user roles or attributes and more on the guiding principles or policies that restrict access to resources. PBAC determines whether a requester's actions comply with the rules governing access to the resource before granting access.


When users need access to a wide range of resources in dynamic contexts, PBAC is intended to be more flexible than RBAC. Instead of being based on established roles or traits, PBAC enables access decisions to be made in accordance with specific policies or principles.


PBAC offers greater visibility and control over who has access to what resources, making it better suited to controlling access in complex environments. By doing so, security concerns can be reduced and unwanted access can be stopped.


It can help organizations comply with industry regulations and standards by enabling them to define and enforce policies that govern access to sensitive data and resources.


How as a CISO you can convince your C-suite to get on board with zero trust?


Now, as a CISO you have a good understanding of the importance of zero-trust security here are a few tips to help you convince the C-suite to adopt a zero-trust security approach:

  • Understand the potential arguments against a zero trust strategy, such as extra complexity or concern about how it would affect user productivity, and address them in your sales case. For instance, describe how contemporary zero-trust solutions have developed to reduce complexity and how a correctly designed zero-trust approach can boost productivity.
  • It's not necessary to deploy a zero-trust strategy all at once. Start with a little undertaking or a single application, then show the C-suite the advantages. The momentum and support for greater adoption may increase as a result.
  • Include other interested parties in the discussion, including the IT group, the legal and compliance departments, and business executives. This can assist you in creating a larger coalition of people who support the zero-trust strategy.

In conclusion, you may influence the C-suite to embrace a zero-trust security approach by addressing common objections, starting small, getting buy-in from stakeholders, collaborating with a trusted vendor, and remaining up to date with the most recent trends.


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