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Zero Trust Architecture and UX

Zero Trust Architecture and User Experience (UX)

Security strategies have an unmeasurable impact on User Experience (UX) and User Interface design. You're not solving a problem for users if your product doesn't guarantee that their data won't be compromised or at risk. With remote workers and cloud services for business becoming increasingly popular, you can't be too careful against security breaches.

Some call Zero Trust "the future of Cloud Environments Security." The number of data leaks, advanced threats, and phishing attacks is overwhelming in the current threat landscape. Building products with seamless UX implies ensuring they're trustworthy and reliable. In this manner, user-centered design also involves robust measures that protect users at all costs.

The bottom line is that to provide great UX, you should make security posture a top priority. One of the most rigorous ways to secure users' data against common cyberattacks is by following the principles of zero-trust policies. As a result, Zero Trust Architecture in Product Design and Development will greatly benefit the design decisions and overall UX. Let's dive a little deeper into that.

What is Zero Trust? 

Yes, security is one of the fundamental aspects of User Experience. Yet, Zero Trust is a relatively modern cybersecurity architecture developed by John Kindervag at Forrester in 2010. Zero Trust Architecture's principles assume there are outer and insider threats to the network. Hence, they forget about implicit trust by introducing the concept "never trust, always verify." Zero Trust involves multiple security layers and network segmentation that users must go through when accessing different sections of an application. That also helps ensure that users only access the information they're supposed to. Network access granted by a VPN isn't enough to give users full access to resources.

The Zero Trust considers users, devices, and applications to validate actions. As you can see, it goes beyond signing a specific user using a VPN network. In other words, only certain users with certain devices can have remote access to some parts of the application. Think of it this way. Implementing a Zero-Trust approach is like asking the following questions when granting access to users. Is this user authorized for this action? Is this device verified for that? Is it a personal device or a corporate device? It involves privileged access, such as Encryption and Multi-factor Authentication (MFA). Yet, the main idea is to continuously ask the user to validate their identity and device as they request further access to minimize potential threats.

Zero Trust on User Experience (UX)

The Zero Trust strategy may add unnecessary steps to complete simple actions and access policies. But trust me. It pays off. Quite commonly, unauthorized access to systems, security breaches, and cyberattacks occur due to lateral movement inside the network. But what is lateral movement? Say an intruder gets an employee's credentials or access to the entire network. Lateral movement implies that the intruder would easily access sensitive information from other workers in the same department. That's what Zero Trust tries to avoid. Again, at first glance, it might look like the system is overly restrictive for no reason.

Yet, users can perfectly work and access the information they're supposed to without much hassle. Breaches, data leaks, and security threats can result in financial losses and fraud. Having the user complete a few more security controls is much better than leaving the door open to external threats to achieve successful attacks. Threats that can easily jeopardize the integrity of the organization. As you can see, the Zero Trust framework is worth the trouble. Just understand the importance of threat protection of valuable assets in industries like Fintech or Healthcare.

Challenges of Zero Trust on User Experience

We can't ignore that implementing Zero Trust involves heavy UX design challenges. Experts recommend making users feel they're working with security measures instead of against them. However, balancing security protocols and user-friendly interfaces can be challenging. Picture this: you're on a call with a client, and the system decides it's time for another security check or questions to ensure you're not an intruder. That can surely be unpleasant at some point for the customer experience or user flow. One of the best ways to approach security is by educating users about why your system involves a wide range of security measures.

Helping them understand how important it is for them will help build a cooperative mindset. Additionally, depending on the requested actions, you may want to request validation progressively. There's no point in throwing a bunch of requests at users for things they don't want to access to applications. From a business point of view, it's fundamental to consider how Zero Trust can affect productivity. Again, it is crucial to educate workers on the importance of security protocols and how to follow them properly. Some highly effective Zero Trust practices that won't affect the digital experience include MFA and continuous monitoring. Regular audits of security protocols will also have a minimal impact on the UX.

Tips for Zero Trust User Experience (UX)

Have you heard the phrase "the best UX is the one that goes unnoticed" or "good design is obvious, great design is transparent"'? That should be your main goal when implementing security practices, including Zero Trust solutions. Apart from MFA, you should also consider Single Sign-On (SSO) solutions, which are very popular in Zero Trust.

SSO allows user identity validation once as the system takes care of their authentication behind the scenes using tokens. Making user behavior an important part of adaptive authentication of your security is also very powerful. The best thing is that it will have a minimal impact on the overall User Experience Design process.

That emerged in a whole new cyber-security concept known as Behavioral Biometrics. As you can imagine, it quickly appealed to most businesses for being frictionless and effective. Plus, it complies with the principle of continuous verification in a user-friendly way. Behavioral biometrics leverage Machine Learning (ML) models to make the system recognize how users move around a network infrastructure.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) can help diminish the attack surface to a large degree. Authentication starts from when they log in and lasts until they log out. To implement a user-friendly zero-trust security model, consider multi-factor authentication, SSO, least privilege access, and biometrics behavior.


Creating a consistent User Experience for safe digital products requires active collaboration between Software Developers, security teams, and UX/UI designers. Also, helping potential users understand the importance of security measures and how to prevent cyber threats is key when applying Zero Trust Models. Educate them about what they should pay attention to and why they should do it. We highly recommend adopting Zero Trust principles as a full-cycle, UX-driven, ISO 27000-1 certified agency.