8 min to readDigital Workplace

How to implement a Zero Trust model

Tim JonkerSolution Advisor

In part one of our Zero Trust blog series we looked at what Zero Trust is, the core principles that underpin it and the benefits it brings. In part 2, we are going to look at how to implement a Zero Trust model to achieve a high-performance workplace, including common challenges faced, the technologies involved and stages of implementation.

Read the full series here:

Challenges of implementing a Zero Trust model

As we explained in part 1, the perimeter of a corporate network has changed. The old model of securing corporate networks is no longer robust enough to fight off more sophisticated cyber-attacks and protect increasingly complex cloud environments, where a leaked credential is an open door for criminals. The Zero Trust model of ‘never trust, always verify’ is the solution. While it has huge benefits, it is not without challenges.

Complex deployments

While Zero Trust is a single term, it is made up of multiple technologies. If a new company was starting up a greenfield IT environment, Zero Trust could be achieved relatively simply by choosing a technology stack that is designed to work together.

However, most organisations already have multiple technologies in place that are not designed to talk to each other. Zero Trust requires a lot of proactive planning, coordination, and integration across different systems, devices, and networks to overcome this. It involves changing the existing network architecture and security infrastructure, which can be costly and time-consuming. And it needs compatibility and interoperability with legacy systems and applications that may not support Zero Trust protocols or standards.

These companies will first need to get an overview of the tools already in use, identify where there are gaps or duplication of functions, design a structure that meets Zero Trust requirements, and marry all the technologies all together. This will take additional resources and the creation of new policies.

Total network visibility

Having a clear understanding of all devices and users connected to the network as well as data flows is crucial to a successful Zero Trust architecture. This complete visibility enables better anomaly detection and faster response to potential threats.

However, gaining this visibility can be challenging to many enterprises who have fragmented and out-of-date solutions that don’t speak to each other. Tools like Azure Sentinel or Defender for Cloud provide a single pane of glass for full visibility of their organisation’s posture, while doing away with outdated, fragmented tools.

Cultural shifts

Zero Trust goes beyond a shift in technology; it takes a complete change in the mindset and behaviours of users. Employees need to get used to more restrictive access controls, which can prompt scepticism as to why things have changed. This is particularly noticeable with senior executives who question why their previous unrestricted access has been limited.

Organisations need to build education and training for employees into the plan, emphasising best practices, the benefits it brings to the company and how it can improve the way everyone works. When employees - and senior execs - understand why it is being rolled out, it is easier to enforce compliance and accountability.

Continuous management

Zero Trust demands ongoing management and adjustment of security policies. For example, if two teams need to work together for a limited period, a policy needs to be created enabling people from the respective teams to access shared resources or files. However, once the project is over, the policy needs to be updated again. This takes constant monitoring but can be automated to reduce the burden on IT teams.

Technologies needed for Zero Trust

There are five main technology types that are essential for a Zero Trust environment, also called Zero-Trust pillars:

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    Identity and Access Management (IAM)

    These tools manage access permissions and roles and form the bread and butter of a Zero Trust environment. This is where each user is defined including what they’re entitled to and where their access is managed from. A critical part of IAM is multi-factor authentication (MFA), which demands that a user trying to access a system is verified in several ways, to ensure they are who they say they are.

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    Devices security

    While IAM and MFA govern users, devices also need protection. Endpoint solutions secure and protect devices from various threats. These solutions will flag if a device is running anomalies or displaying unusual log ins.

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    Networks and Secure Gateways

    These tools - like Azure firewalls or Cloud Defender for cloud apps - control access to malicious websites and ensures secure web usage. They will monitor what you can do inside or outside your organisation and help the administrator monitor what is trying to be accessed. This will flag any potential threats before they can do damage to a corporate network.

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    Applications and Workloads

    Application and Workloads are also important components, and Zero-Trust focuses on ensuring secure access and protection for applications and data, aligning with the overarching principle of ‘Never Trust, Always Verify’ even in the application level.

  • number 5 icon


    Have Zero-Trust in the Data Level is one of the most important stages of cybersecurity Maturity. It emphasizes secure access, protection, and granular control over data and services, shifting from a location-centric (the traditional cybersecurity mentioned in part one) to a data-centric approach. However, achieving this level of maturity faces challenges such as Data Classification, Encryption, Data Lifecycle Management, User Behaviour, and an important Cultural Shift as previously mentioned.

In blog 5 in the series, we take a deeper look at the different security technologies in the Microsoft stack that make up a Zero Trust model.

Implementing Zero Trust

Most organisations already have the fundamental building blocks in place to implement a Zero Trust policy. As we said in part 1, Zero Trust is not another new technology, it is a concept which takes a shift in thinking and approach to security. Organisations who follow a well-structured plan and take time in the planning stages achieve benefits far faster than those who rush headlong in it. We suggest a simple three-step approach to implementing Zero Trust.

1. Assessment

Evaluate your current security posture and identify sensitive data, assets, and services. You probably already have a lot of the technologies needed for a Zero Trust model. It’s not about having to start from scratch, more a case of getting an overview of your current situation and assessing where there are gaps.

2. Planning

Strategy planning is where the heavy lifting comes in. A Zero Trust plan should start with the long-term business goals, with security built to match those rather than the other way around. Security policies should not dictate how an organisation operates! You need to think long term so that policies defined now have longevity. Consideration must be given to risk assessments, business requirements, analysis of current tools, and usage, before developing a roadmap for Zero Trust implementation, including technology upgrades and policy changes.

Depending on the size and scope of the organisation as well as the maturity of your existing security setup, this piece of work can take a couple of weeks to a couple of months.

3. Execution

If you have a clearly defined strategy and policies, the execution of a Zero Trust model is relatively simple. Challenges will arise however, if this planning work hasn’t been done as it can lead to users unable to access the resources they need, which leads to frustration and a loss of productivity. The lesson? Do the planning before implementing.

4. Maintain and Increase Maturity

Achieve an effective Zero Trust approach is not the end of the journey, keep the effectiveness and elevating it to optimal maturity level is required and involves overcoming several challenges, as legacy system, Data Complexity and new systems, Visibility, and Integrations. Have process and tools prepared to evolve is important, nevertheless, have a partner who can handle all those challenges and guide your lifecycle of security become crucial.

Zero Trust for a high-performance workplace

As a business leader, you might read this and wonder why, if your current security solution is working, would you change to a Zero Trust model. Instead of seeing this as something that will cost your organisation time and money, we believe it is an investment that will help you build a high-performance workplace and future-proofs your organisation against evolving threats and rapidly changing cloud landscapes.

A high-performance workplace is one where employees can work collaboratively, efficiently and securely from anywhere, on any device, underpinned by the latest technologies. A Zero Trust security model enables this. Whether your employees work from home, in the office or hybrid, having a Zero Trust security model means that they can do their best work from anywhere while organisational systems and data remain safe. It fosters a culture of trust and accountability among users, giving them more control and visibility over their own data and access rights, giving them confidence to collaborate and innovate with peers and partners, both internally and externally.

It also lays the foundation for accelerated digital transformation. Zero Trust security enables organisations to embrace new technologies and platforms, such as cloud, mobile, IoT, or AI, without compromising their security posture. By applying a consistent and adaptive security policy across all environments and endpoints, Zero Trust security protects the data and applications from threats and breaches, while enabling innovation and agility.

Want to learn more?

Follow a day in the life of an average worker in a Zero Trust security environment

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Envision the art of the possible

If you want to understand your current security score and how you can move towards a Zero Trust model, request a free one hour envision workshop with SoftwareOne.

Envision the art of the possible

If you want to understand your current security score and how you can move towards a Zero Trust model, request a free one hour envision workshop with SoftwareOne.



Tim Jonker
Solution Advisor