The rise of remote work, increased use of cloud storage, and cyber threats refocused on individual users and endpoints. These trends have forced us to reevaluate how we protect our IT assets. While traditional edge security may have worked in the past, today’s perimeter-less networks require modern strategies like Zero Trust security.

Overview of Traditional Edge Security

Up until just a few years ago, most companies relied on on-premise networks. They stored data and applications directly at the office’s location for users to access, where there was a clear network boundary.

You, therefore, operated on a traditional edge security model, which defines and prioritizes the network perimeter. If you could just prevent unauthorized access into the network, everything stored on it would remain secure — letting the business avoid falling victim to a cyber attack. It contained common security controls like:

  • Firewalls to control traffic entering the network
  • Intrusion detection and prevention systems (IDS/IPS) to spot anomalous activity or threats within the network
  • Virtual private networks (VPNs) for secure network connectivity for remote users and other locations
  • Network access controls (NAC) to set rules on who can enter the network and authentication requirements

COVID-19 was a turning point for traditional edge security. Once businesses rapidly adopted teleworking and cloud computing, network architecture and security demands changed. By 2020, 75% of companies were steering away from traditional security and began planning for Zero Trust security.

Exploring Zero Trust Security

Coined in 2010, Zero Trust security accounted for the changes in enterprise networks and the threat landscape. Since you were seeing more cloud-based applications and remote devices that let teams access resources from anywhere, it was tough to establish a clear network boundary. The risks then shifted to individual users and endpoints since a threat actor could breach a network regardless of their location.

Zero Trust security is a framework for building a cybersecurity program around. Its foundation lies in its core principles:

  • Never Trust, Always Verify: You assume you’ve already been breached and that any user or device within the network cannot be trusted. Resource access requires constant authentication and additional verification via MFA.
  • Practice Least Privilege: You only give users just enough resources to do their jobs to reduce the risk of negligence and the “blast radius” of a cyber attack.
  • Continuous Monitoring: You constantly track all network and user activity and investigate abnormal events for potential threats.
  • Micro-Segmentation: You divide company IT resources into smaller “segments” to monitor and isolate any confirmed cyber incidents.

Zero trust lets you adapt to today’s cyber risks by filling in the gaps of a traditional model. For example:


Traditional Security Zero Trust Security
Security Focus Protecting the network perimeter Protecting individual users, devices, and data inside the network
Whats Trusted? Anything inside the network can be trusted; anything outside cannot be trusted Nothing inside or outside the network can be trusted
Access Controls Based on users’ role and network location Highly contextual based on the user’s identity, device, location, IT resource, etc.
Response to Security Threats Reactive; waits for a confirmed attack before initiating a response Proactive; constantly monitors and investigates for threats


The Evolution of Cyber Threats in 2024

Today’s cyber threats are hyper-focused on individual users and getting them to “slip up.” Last year, human errors accounted for 74% of all breaches — primarily phishing for credentials and misuse of privileges. This makes traditional edge security controls such as firewalls obsolete. Rather than breaching a network, someone could quickly gain access via credential theft and escalate their privileges.

It’s also more vulnerability-driven. New devices like mobile equipment constantly get added to tech stacks, especially in industries like healthcare. Combined with broader network accessibility, you now get infinite entry points for an attacker.

We also can’t overlook just how sophisticated attackers have become. From AI-driven attacks to zero-day exploits to ransomware as a service (RaaS), traditional security models just weren’t built for the modern threat landscape.

Comparative Analysis: Effectiveness and Limitations

Traditional edge security is not suited for today’s threats. Focusing primarily on securing the network perimeter leaves the IT resources inside vulnerable. Unfortunately, that’s where most modern attacks target — users, endpoints, and data. Phishing, malware, ransomware, and system exploits have made traditional controls borderline useless.

Zero trust security better protects you in the current landscape. Why?

  • Better security that accounts for threats already in your network → Even if there’s a breach, the systems have layers via MFA, granular access control, and contextual login requirements.
  • Better visibility → You’re always monitoring the environment, both onsite and remote activity, for threats and have defensive security solutions for quick response.
  • It reduces cyber attack impact → Your network is segmented, and users are limited in their accessibility through least privilege, making it easy to find and isolate cyber-attacks.

Data-Driven Insights on Transitioning to Zero Trust

Zero Trust is the new norm! While just 24% of businesses had embraced the model in 2021, its Zero Trust adoption was 61% as of 2023. In terms of the “why,” security leaders cite clear benefits for adopting Zero Trust:

  • 65% want to broaden their security and improve advanced threat detection
  • 44% needed to ensure secure remote access for users, vendors, and partners
  • 27% want to provide secure connectivity for hybrid workforces

Organizations that adopt Zero Trust ultimately see tangible outcomes from a security perspective:

Zero Trust Security: A Current Framework for Today’s Threats

There’s a reason so many are transitioning to Zero Trust. The changing IT environments have created cyber threats that can easily breach a network perimeter and require a strategic shift. Traditional edge security can no longer protect your business.