Why you must extend Zero Trust to public cloud workloads

Today, many organizations are embracing the power of the public cloud by shifting their workloads to them. A recent study shows that 98% of IT leaders 1 have adopted a public cloud infrastructure. Additionally, 58% of these organizations use between two and three public clouds, indicating a growing trend toward multi-cloud environments. It is estimated by the end of 2023, 31% of organizations expect to run 75% of their workloads 2 in the cloud. 1 The rapid migration to the public cloud comes with numerous benefits, such as scalability, cost-efficiency, and enhanced collaboration. However, it has also introduced new security challenges, specifically related to cloud infrastructure and connectivity between workloads as organizations have limited control over those connectivity and communications.

Why securing cloud workloads is an urgent matter

In recent years, major cloud service providers encountered 6,000 malware samples actively communicating with them, underlining the magnitude of cloud security challenges. 3 We have seen an increase of 15% in cloud security breaches as compared to last year. 4 While 31% of organizations list cloud security as one of their top IT priorities and emphasize its critical role 5 , organizations still struggle to:

Keep up with ever-expanding cloud attack surfaces

Mitigate the risk of sophisticated cyberattacks

Reduce multi-cloud cost and complexity

The same features that make cloud services beneficial to organizations are the same that make them attractive to threat actors. Hence, it’s important to protect the cloud and its various connections across various cloud environments, not just those that directly tie back to the on-premise network. This requires knowing the risks involved with the cloud, which include external risks and threats, as well as internal risks and threats that could not only lead to a security compromise or an embarrassing leak but may affect organizations’ overall productivity and efficiency.

But securing cloud workloads isn’t as easy as you think…

To secure your cloud workloads, it requires a radically different approach. It’s not as simple as just extending traditional firewall capabilities to the cloud. In fact, a few of the most common challenges include:

Risk. Organizations continue to face significant challenges in reducing the risk and limiting the scope of disruption that results from cyberattacks. As per a recent study, around 39% of organizations have encountered cloud-based data breaches. 6 On top of that, the average cost of a data breach is over $4.4 million per incident, making cloud data breaches one of the top attacks to defend against. 7 With the vast majority (estimated around 85%) of Internet traffic encrypted, there is exponential growth in security risks posed by encrypted channels that can hide harmful content such as viruses, spyware, and other malware challenging security teams to secure an increasingly distributed enterprise and avoid costly repercussions. 8

Complexity. Security is especially complex in multi-cloud infrastructures. As organizations implement a multi-cloud strategy, deploy workloads around the globe, and increase the use of cloud computing infrastructure, the attack surface increases along with the number of potential vulnerabilities. Moreover, connectivity requirements are ever-changing to accommodate new services, access, strategies, and transactions that increase the chances of crucial data exposures. In many cases, organizations adopt legacy network security solutions and architectures to secure these cloud workloads that often fail to provide complete security coverage. Taken together, these efforts not only introduce a high degree of complexity but also create additional security risks, such as introducing a larger attack surface for cyber attackers.

Speed. The rapid pace of cloud adoption combined with the ever-increasing sophistication of attackers means security teams must move at a pace they are unaccustomed to for on-premise environments. Considering the cloud’s scale, speed, and dynamic nature, organizations need to empower their security teams with the right tools to automate, scale, deploy, and integrate with the native CSP architecture to secure any workload in any location.

Operational costs. As per a recent study, approximately 35% of organizations need help to optimize their increased costs in cloud management and security. Due to the current economic circumstances security teams operate under budget constraints. Hence, they are focused on the need to optimize operational spending across two domains. First, the costs associated with implementing and operationalizing security controls. Second, the staffing costs associated with running those controls.

It’s clear that traditional perimeter-based security models and limited security resources are ill-equipped to handle these challenges. This highlights the need for a better approach to workload security.

How to extend Zero Trust fundamentals for your cloud workloads with Zscaler

Zscaler is uniquely positioned to help organizations move beyond traditional solutions to create a more seamless connectivity and security experience. Building on its leadership in securing digital transformation, Zscaler has extended its Zero Trust Exchange platform to meet the needs of cloud workload security in multi-cloud environments. With Zscaler Workload Communications, we aim to help organizations simplify cloud workload security with the Zero Trust Exchange, the world’s largest inline cloud security platform, to reduce the attack surface, prevent compromise, stop lateral movement, and block data exfiltration while reducing overall cost.


Figure 1. Zscaler’s zero trust-based architecture to secure workload in the public cloud

With Zscaler Workload Communication, you can: 

Eliminate Lateral Movement

Zscaler zero trust architecture ensures least-privileged access for cloud workloads and applications. This means cloud workloads are connected only to authorized workloads, not to the corporate network using legacy network security architecture.

Reduce Operational Cost and Complexity

Secure workloads across all major cloud service providers including AWS, Azure, and GCP using one unified platform.

Automate security deployments through programmable interfaces using infrastructure as code (IaC) templates, along with Public Cloud Service Provider integrations such as AWS gateway load balancer, AWS user-defined tags, and AWS auto-scaling

Gain Consistent Threat and Data Protection

Elevate cloud workload security to zero trust principles. Prevent zero-day attacks and protect data with cloud-scale TLS inspection, segmentation (across VPCs/VNets, regions, and public clouds), advanced threat protection, and data loss prevention


As businesses navigate the complexities of cloud security, securing workloads with Zero Trust principles stands out as the ultimate solution to address the evolving landscape of threats. With Zscaler Workload Communications, organizations can effortlessly shift from traditional perimeter-based approaches to a zero-trust framework and establish granular control, strong authentication, and continuous monitoring. This comprehensive and proactive approach reduces deployment efforts, rolls out security faster, improves coverage, mitigates zero-day exposure, and accelerates incident response time to reduce your overall security risks.

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1 Oracle PR

2 Cloud Zero Blog

3 Google Cloud: The digital forecast

4 IBM Data Breach Report 2023

5 Tech Target: IT spending priorities point to cyber, cloud and data

6 IBM Data Breach Report 2023

7 IBM Data Breach Report 2023

8 Techlabs blog