Mainframes are at the core of our digital economy. In fact, recent research reported that 86% of IT and security managers agreed that mainframes are essential for scaling workloads, with 75% stating they’re critical for business continuity.

Despite this recognition, only 50% of businesses are prioritizing mainframe security. This in due in part to the false belief held by 62% of firms that the mainframe is inherently secure. Such a belief increases business’ exposure to threats and can decrease control of critical data, leading to dangerous unauthorized access.

To safeguard your organization, IT and security leaders can put mainframe security on the forefront by investing in a Zero Trust Architecture (ZTA), a set of cybersecurity paradigms that never trusts and always verifies users. This framework protects technology and raises employee awareness to prioritize defending the mainframe and mitigate threats to the business. Most IT managers – 67% — expect to reduce their organizations’ overall risk by addressing the top problems head on with an academic approach like ZTA.

How can you implement ZTA? Late last year, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) released a concise set of Zero Trust definitions and guidelines. Together, several key takeaways from this document form a baseline roadmap for configuring an enterprise’s Zero Trust Architecture.

  1. Refocus trust: ZTA must surround the mainframe, inside and out. Cybersecurity standards refocus defences on users, assets, and resources. No implicit trust can be granted based on location or ownership.
  2. Migration: Organizations must reach a baseline of competence before deploying Zero Trust, then develop a list of business processes and the people and assets involved.
  3. Logical Components: Those most important for the mainframe: your industry compliance system, threat intelligence feed(s), data access policies, and ID management system. Feed into policy engine.
  4. Policy Components: These make no/no-go decisions based on the logical components, which is why accurate and timely information is vital. Good data in, correct access given. Bad data in, possible exploit.
  5. Cybersecurity framework: ZTA is an evolution of current cybersecurity strategies in which organizations need to be able to:
    • Identify resources via asset management, business environment, governance, risk assessment, risk management
    • Protect assets via access control, awareness & training, data security, info protection process & procedures, maintenance, and protective technology

These steps will lead organizations to improve access visibility and control to create a more efficient data management process and stronger data ownership. As a result, 60% of organizations expect their ability to detect breaches to improve once their ZTA was successfully implemented.

Breaches can be devastating to businesses, potentially sacrificing millions of dollars and customer relationships. Implementing a Zero Trust Architecture can ensure businesses avoid such devastation by working to safeguard the mainframe and implementing processes that shed light on the mission-critical technology it is. As a result, businesses will be equipped with the secure technology that can power their business into the future.

To learn more about adopting a Zero Trust Architecture, download the full research snapshot