Zero Trust Network Access or ZTNA combines technologies to facilitate secure remote access using defined access control policies between users, devices, and applications.
As data breaches continue to rise, going up by at least 17% from 2020 to 2021, the need to adopt a mentality of trusting no one in cybersecurity has become more important than ever before. This is where the relevance of ZTNA becomes part of the equation.
Below is briefly an overview of ZTNA and its business implications.
ZTNA is the technology that’s needed to implement a Zero Trust model of security. Zero Trust models are also called Zero Trust network architecture. Regardless of what they’re called, the core philosophy is that threats exist inside and outside networks at every moment.
ZTNA solutions only allow access to data and services when they’re necessary while using something like a virtual private network provides access by default.
The principle of least privilege is important here because it means that everyone is going to have access only to the bare minimum they need to do their jobs and nothing more. The principle of least privilege helps reduce the attack surface if there is a threat or breach.
An IT administrator can pair the principle of least privilege with multi-factor authentication) MFA, directory services, and single sign-on (SSO), all of which further reduce potential security risks.
How Is It Different from a Traditional Perimeter?
In traditional cybersecurity and access models, most IT teams would put layered security rings around their assets that were in on-premises networks. The approach to security that was, until fairly recently, the default was working under the assumption an attacker would have to break through layers of applications, data, hosts, and networks to gain access to the critical digital assets of an organization.
The security method was sufficient until the implementation of cloud infrastructures in a mainstream way.
Tin the mid-2000s, employees increasingly started relying on not only software subscriptions but also public Wi-Fi. They were working from all over the place, and data was no longer within the perimeters defined by software.
IT admins are charged now with recreating segmented boundaries around hosts, services, and peers. They have to authorize access to these boundaries they create and, within all of the segmentation, monitor activity.
What Elements Are Part of ZTNA?
There are certain technologies that are very frequently part of Zero Trust Network Access frameworks, although the specifics depend on the needs of an organization.
Some of the elements we most commonly use in ZTNA include:
- Identity and Access Management or IAM: Modern IAM solutions work to reduce the risk of a hacker accessing digital access through stolen credentials. Modernized solutions give IT admins centralized device control. They also have a centralized sense of control over networks, files, and login credentials. The admin will create an identity for all the unique users and then give them granular, highly controlled access to what they need and prevent them from gaining access to what they don’t.
- Device security: An admin will analyze all the network traffic that’s moving to and from devices through service-based or agent-based ZTNA software. Remote work is only increasing in popularity at a rapid pace, and that means the use of mobile devices and business apps are as well. Stolen devices or hacked devices as such can pose a tremendous risk, which is why mobile device management or MDM is increasingly becoming seen as one of the critical elements of ZTNA.
- Secure authentication: ZTNA requires advanced authentication controls such as a combination of single sign-on, multi-factor authentication, and conditional access policies. SSO platforms are especially beneficial here because they let users access any approved applications on the network with a single username and password, mitigating the risks associated with having multiple logins.
- Individualized access to applications: Once a device or user connects to a network, there’s only access to approved applications and services.
- TLS encryptions: TLS tunnels are small and encrypted ways to link a user and an application, as compared to traditional perimeters with private connections that were MPLS-based.
What Are the Benefits?
There are a lot of benefits of ZTNA, namely the high level of data protection.
There’s more security than what’s available with VPNs, and privileged access management systems will automatically evaluate any user request based on preset criteria. This prevents IT administrators, from having to monitor logins all day. The ZTNA system will instead provide them with an alert for the identification of suspicious activity.
Finally, ZTNA is incredibly remote-work friendly.