The cybersecurity landscape has evolved since the shift to remote work began a few years ago. Gone are the days of setting up firewalls to filter website traffic or a hardware VPN solution to protect your resources. The focus of IT has been on securing remote access beyond the traditional perimeter. Since legacy appliances can’t offer this level of protection, a new solution had to take its place. A 4-letter word known simply as ZTNA or Zero Trust Network Access.
ZTNA is a highly effective security measure in securing remote access and preventing lateral movement, where attackers attempt to move throughout the network from a compromised endpoint, with the goal of reaching an organization’s critical assets. CISOs and risk professionals should take note of this as 60% of attacks are the result of lateral movement.
How Does ZTNA Work?
Zero Trust Network Access is a security solution that works to restrict access to the applications and data on a network. Based on the least privilege access principle of Zero Trust, ZTNA grants access to specific parts of a network based on identity and context policies only once a user has been fully authenticated. This level of granular access control also checks the device type and location of the requested user.
User identification is continually validated each time in order to access an application or company resource. Encrypted tunnels block off restricted parts of the network that would normally be visible to anyone.
ZTNA closely resembles a Software Defined Perimeter (SDP) in many ways. Just like SDPs, they prevent users from accessing data within the network by making use of a ‘dark cloud’.
ZTNA also reduces the risk of a third-party data breach as access is given on a need-to-know basis. One such use case for ZTNA was the Target breach back in 2013 where attackers exploited a vulnerability in the retail giant’s network from a third-party HVAC contractor. This resulted in the exposure of over 40 million credit and debit cards and $18.5 million in settlement fees.
Key Features of ZTNA
Secure Remote Access
ZTNA helps enforce security policies and reduces the risk of a breach as only authorized users can access the network. This prevents remote workers from using unmanaged devices to access the corporate network over an unsecured connection.
Hardware-based VPNs cannot scale and have many security limitations. ZTNA is multi-tennant cloud-based security solution that is extremely scalable and cost-efficient. Deployment can be done in just a few hours rather than months. IT professionals don’t have to worry about manual configuration or continuous maintenance, another plus.
Organizations can segment the network to prevent unauthorized access and lateral movement. Compromised credentials have resulted in over 61% of breaches. A ZTNA controller can grant or deny access based on user roles and permissions, greatly reducing the attack surface.
ZTNA vs. VPN
ZTNA overcomes the security limitations of a VPN in many ways. The primary difference between the two is that VPNs provide network-wide access to users while ZTNAs restrict access to the network.
ZTNA offers more benefits than an on-premise VPN. Here are just a few:
A VPN works by installing software into each system and device that require access to the network. This leaves a lot of room for error due to misconfigurations. Think of a public cloud such as an AWS cloud environment. A small misconfiguration can leave your data widely available to any malicious actor looking to make a quick financial gain. With ZTNA, security policies only need to be added, removed, or updated from the network level.
VPNs provide a very open network where a user can access an entire network by connecting to one part. This can prove to be a security risk because multiple parts of a network can become compromised due to that one entry point. With ZTNA, this risk is eliminated as its granular access nature means that users can only operate in one area per time. ZTNA works with a continuous identity verification system such as Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) so that a compromised user can be immediately identified and blocked off from accessing other parts of the network.
Improved User Experience
VPNs can drastically slow down performance. The issue of latency arises as remote users connect to the corporate network across various regions and locations. ZTNA also creates a much better user experience with fewer redundancies due to a large number of global Points of Presence (POPs) distributed across many locations. This means more optimal routing and faster connection speeds.
Implementing ZTNA should be an integral part of your network security plan. It can change the overall dynamic of your business overnight. Perimeter 81’s award-winning ZTNA integrates with all major Identity Providers (IdPs) for more secure authentication and can be deployed in minutes. Discover how you can transform remote access security with Perimeter 81’s ZTNA.
Sponsored by Perimeter 81