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New report reveals zero trust adoption needs more support

A new study from identity firm Okta has found organisations in Australia and New Zealand have become more security conscious over the course of the pandemic, leading to significant investments in zero trust.

user icon Nastasha Tupas
Wed, 15 Sep 2021
New report reveals zero trust adoption needs more support
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The State of Zero Trust Security in Asia Pacific 2021 report found that remote work has driven organisations across the region to place greater importance on zero trust.

Researchers surveyed over 132 IT and security leaders in the A/NZ region about their initiatives and more than eight in 10 (84 per cent) of companies in A/NZ say that they have increased zero trust as a priority and 85 per cent have plans to implement a zero trust initiative within the next 12 to 18 months, up from 50 per cent a year ago.

While all companies agree that zero trust security is important and intend to invest more, there are clear gaps when it comes to adoption, with few organisations in A/NZ actually implementing their zero trust security strategies (5 per cent). Based on the survey respondent's current identity projects, most A/NZ companies fall into Stage 0 or 1 of Okta’s zero trust maturity curve, where an organisation might begin to embrace cloud technologies but don’t yet integrate those solutions with an IAM platform or on-premises resources.

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According to Ben King, chief security officer, APAC at Okta, this data comes as cyber security remains a key challenge for organisations, following the heightened risk landscape created by the pandemic.

"Businesses must recognise that people are the new perimeter, and adopt strong authentication across all services, everywhere — from on-premises, to cloud, to mobile, and for employees as well as customers, partners, contractors, and suppliers,” King said.

“To avoid becoming the next victim of a data breach or attack, organisations are moving towards a more robust and comprehensive security posture that is centred around the zero trust principle of ‘never trust, always verify’."

Given the growing importance of zero trust in A/NZ, 85 per cent of local organisations have increased their corresponding budgets in 2021, while only 2 per cent of A/Z respondents say their budget has decreased. This comes during a period where cuts have been widespread, indicating the importance of zero trust as a security measure.

Okta's research has also found that Australia and New Zealand leads in use of biometric security factors, but the majority of APAC companies are still relying on low assurance factors like passwords (64 per cent) and security questions (37 per cent). Compared to the rest of the world, there are still more organisations in Australia and New Zealand are securing access through biometrics (48 per cent).

Japan is leading in the APAC region when it comes to using security keys and push notifications - factors that A/NZ organisations lag in implementing, at 5 per cent and 6 per cent, respectively.

Current data has shown biometric technology has continued to skyrocket globally, with 45 per cent of companies, and about 50 per cent of financial services and software organisations are using biometrics as a high assurance factor.

Overcoming the reliance on passwords is not going to happen overnight, but organisations can start with adopting contextual factors to ease authentication processes, King added.

“By embracing passwordless technologies such as biometrics and contextual factors, businesses can increase security and tackle data breaches more effectively.”

To adopt a zero trust infrastructure, the major challenges for Australian and New Zealand companies include a talent/skill shortage (29 per cent), cost concerns (23 per cent) and technology gaps (17 per cent).

[Related: EY acquires SecureWorx]

Nastasha Tupas

Nastasha Tupas

Nastasha is a Journalist at Momentum Media, she reports extensively across veterans affairs, cyber security and geopolitics in the Indo-Pacific. She is a co-author of a book titled The Stories Women Journalists Tell, published by Penguin Random House. Previously, she was a Content Producer at Verizon Media, a Digital Producer for Yahoo! and Channel 7, a Digital Journalist at Sky News Australia, as well as a Website Manager and Digital Producer at SBS Australia. Nastasha started her career in media as a Video Producer and Digital News Presenter at News Corp Australia.

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