IT Leaders and Employees Misaligned on Zero-Trust Ambitions: Report


Network security remains elusive for a majority of organizations despite the confidence of IT leaders. One possible explanation, according to network visibility provider Forward Networks, is disjointed communication and the lack of visibility into organizational networks. The company surveyed IT leaders and managers to understand what they want for the robust network security of organizations.

Network and the overall organizational security are still burdened with a disconnect between IT leaders/executives and front-line IT managers. According to  recent research by Forward Networks, 59% of executives believe that their organizations are in the process of building or have already implemented zero-trust architectures. Only 39% of IT managers, on the other hand, have the same opinion.

Zero-trust is a recent approach to security that does away with presuming that users or systems operating within an organization’s security perimeter can be trusted automatically. Instead, zero-trust entails verification of any entity trying to connect to internal systems.

Considering zero-trust is increasingly becoming an important method of securing networks through segmentation, prevention of lateral movement, and granular access control It is clear that organizations still have a long way to go when it comes to not just instituting network security best practices, but also being aware of them.

As such, over 58% of executives said the overall network security is more advanced than competitors, despite 47% of managers deeming it so. “The disconnect between the perceptions of security executives and practitioners highlights the lack of visibility into the network and security policy adherence,” said Chiara RegaleOpens a new window , VP, product management, Forward Networks.

“Without a single source of network truth, practitioners and executives are forced to make inferences. Having the ability to prove compliance and easily visualize security policies in action can eliminate the disconnect and ensure that the bulk of engineering effort is directed toward proactively improving the network security posture instead of fighting fires or clarifying confusing data,” she added.

Clearly, the disconnect stems from the lack of appropriate communication, engagement, and coordination between IT executives and managers. This can prove to be detrimental to the security fabric of organizations with respect to objectives, progress, and outstanding needs.

See More: 92% of Organizations Are Threatened Due to Inadequate File Security Best Practices: Report

This is possibly why 81% of respondents struggle to identify the depth of a breach which is not a surprise given:

  • Quick identification of non-compliance is a problem for 69% of respondents
  • 71% of respondents are unable to get their hands on endpoint-to-endpoint connectivity analysis
  • Presence of devices and network topology is a challenge for 68% of respondents

A result of misconfiguration, lax security practices, and of course a motivated threat actor, data breaches are commonplace nowadays. The cost of a data breach in 2021 has surged to $4.24 millionOpens a new window , which is not only higher than the $3.86 million estimated by IBM from last year, but is the highest cost yet in the 17-year history of the IBM’s report.

Mitigation requires some concrete steps for improvement, some of which Forward Networks found through the study to be the following: 

Capabilities IT Leaders Most Want | Source: Forward NetworksOpens a new window

IT managers also want more or less the same to be implemented.

  • Real-time monitoring: 88% want this
  • Compliance with all security protocols: 85% want this
  • Validation of a zero-trust approach for network architecture: 73% want this
  • Improvement in network-breach response times: 85% want this

Note: Forward Networks commissioned International Data Group (IDG), which surveyed 101 IT directors, VPs, and other executives as well as 98 frontline IT managers for the report.

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