A good ZTNA solution enables you to securely support digital transformation and remote work initiatives without increasing business risk. Choose a solution that provides a smooth end-user experience, streamlined device enrollment, and ease of management. Ensure the ZTNA solution imposes granular access control policies based on a user’s identity and context. These can include user or device location, time of day, type of service, and security posture.
ZTNA solutions offer granular, context-aware access to private apps outside the organization’s network, reducing networking complexity, cost, and latency while optimizing remote user experience. Unlike VPNs, which can slow productivity and introduce latency issues, ZTNA solutions are fast, secure, and easy to deploy and manage. When a remote worker signs in to a ZTNA solution, the zero trust model authenticates their identity and links it to their role on the system. Then, each application-specific permission is granted or denied on a case-by-case basis. This approach reduces the attack surface and prevents the spread of malware and lateral movement from threat actors within the enterprise. Depending on the ZTNA solution, this can be done with an agent running on users’ devices or through service-initiated sessions. Unlike client-based zero trust solutions, which require agents on all devices used for work, server-initiated SASE solutions are accessible through browsers, making them more attractive to unmanaged and BYOD devices. ZTNA solutions also include strong endpoint security to ensure only valid users and healthy devices can access the network and applications. This can be accomplished through device fingerprinting, deep packet inspection, and other techniques. In addition, ZTNA uses micro-segmentation to prevent malware from spreading across segments, limiting the impact of a breach and speeding up recovery time.
Unlike VPN solutions, which provide complete access to a network’s resources after successful authentication, ZTNA solutions can deny remote connections by default and grant them based on context and granular policy decisions. This helps to prevent lateral movement of attackers between compromised systems and avert the risk of data exfiltration. Depending on the solution, ZTNA can incorporate device security posture and risk factors into its access decisions (either via an agent running on the user’s endpoint or by analyzing network traffic to and from that endpoint). This is one way that a zero-trust architecture can provide greater control than traditional firewalls or other point products. Most organizations use a phased approach to implementing ZTNA, working through a pilot with a defined set of users and services and resolving access issues before scaling the product out to all users. This critical feature sets ZTNA apart from other point solutions that require a large amount of infrastructure and can be challenging to scale. A few vendors offer combined zero trust and VPN solutions that can help enterprises achieve better scalability than traditional solutions while reducing hardware and bandwidth costs. This type of solution can be helpful for customers with specific security and scalability requirements, such as those needing to support high volumes of remote users.
ZTNA solutions use a zero-trust security model to grant users access to applications on a one-to-one basis after validation of identity, device health, and other contextual factors. These factors include a user’s role, device type, location, etc. They also assess the risk of lateral movement within the organization’s network by preventing general network access. This approach significantly improves over traditional VPNs, which typically grant complete LAN access to remote workers. Eliminating this unnecessary access reduces the attack surface and protects against lateral movement of malware and other threats.
Additionally, it can be a more secure solution than direct internet access (DIA), which exposes devices to the public Internet and risks DDoS attacks and other threats. Lastly, ZTNA provides flexibility for the hybrid work environment by supporting managed and BYOD devices with outbound connections only. As a result, organizations can deploy granular access controls for internal and external users without compromising performance. This can be especially important for engineers and related roles needing SSH or RDP infrastructure access. ZTNA’s dynamic policy enforcement and device-based threat detection and mitigation can improve the user experience while reducing the risk of compromises and cyber attacks. It can also improve scalability, productivity, and agility while lowering network costs and complexity. Secure access service edge (SASE) solutions combine ZTNA, SD-WAN, CASB, and FWaaS into a single integrated cloud-delivered services “edge” to simplify networking and security management for modern enterprises.
If you are considering a ZTNA solution, ensure it can deliver a seamless and convenient user experience. It should support self-enrollment and efficient device setup and be a breeze to add new users to policies. It should also allow you to choose between agent-based and service-initiated deployments. Agent-based models require software installed on network endpoints, while service-initiated solutions do not rely on this technology. Unlike VPNs that grant full access to the corporate LAN, zero-trust networks apply the principle of least privilege, verifying access on an application-by-application basis based on identity and context. This prevents overly permissive access and reduces the risk of attackers moving laterally within your network to gain access to sensitive data. As more employees work remotely and on BYOD devices, securing remote access to business applications is a critical challenge for most organizations. Look for a ZTNA solution that offers a streamlined and straightforward configuration process with granular policies that can be applied based on identity and context to allow or deny access to a specific application. It should also provide visibility into application activity, enabling you to be proactive about application status and usage.