Trustless Network Access (ZTNA) is a critical component of digital transformation. It sits right at the intersection of more efficient workflows that enable businesses to transform and grow, and the stronger cybersecurity needed to protect organizations in an “always on” world. dynamic” is highly connected.
In this article, we’ll look at some of the key benefits of the trustless approach and focus on a surprising illustration of what ZTNA can do with remote access: phasing out networks virtual private (VPN) within your organization. This is a key component of trustless adoption – and digital transformation as well. We’ll then explore how this is done and how it reduces friction while improving security.
Why ZTNA and Why Now
For stakeholders who are modernizing security, ease of use is paramount. Users need a seamless experience with less friction, less sign-in, and easier authentication requirements. This experience is the opposite of what most users expect when it comes to increasing the security of their organization, but distrust really makes it possible to increase security without compromising productivity. This ability to help businesses become more resilient in the face of an increasingly complex and aggressive threat landscape — without forcing users to work harder to achieve it — is one of the key drivers of innovation. force driving the acceleration in ZTNA adoption.
Another driving factor is the growth of cloud computing, big data, and remote access, which are key business enablers needed to stay competitive, despite the disappearance of digital assets. traditional network perimeter. The hybrid workforce model of the world requires 24/7/365 access to resources from anywhere and on any device. In turn, this new age of productivity and mobility has led to an unintended consequence of business transformation: a boom in the attack zone for many organizations. With more devices connected to enterprise resources than ever before, it is nearly impossible to catalog and comprehensively control all touchpoints as the environment has become so dynamic.
The need for both higher performance and a higher level of security calls for a new approach to secure access – an approach that legacy security solutions cannot provide. One of those outdated technologies that can inadvertently undermine business transformation initiatives remains a mainstay in many organizations struggling to support the transition to hybrid working models: VPNs: VPNs .
How does a VPN create a network security hole?
The use of virtual private networks exploded during the pandemic as part of efforts to enable business continuity as organizations transition to remote and hybrid workforces, and it remains a critical component of the workforce. more flexible workplaces that many organizations have adopted. However, the traditional VPN (or perimeter defense) approach requires complete trust in both the user and the device, which has proven problematic because:
- VPNs grant access to the network, and once granted access, threat actors can exploit vulnerabilities and attempt to access other resources in the network.
- Access control based on static authentication methods lacks enough barriers to deter outside adversaries.
- Backhauling traffic degrades the user’s application connection quality.
These limitations, coupled with the knowledge that more than 80% of hacking-related breaches are caused by credential abuse, reinforce the growing awareness that traditional VPN technologies can expose organizations to . ZTNA significantly reduces the risk from using a VPN. It allows you to treat all potentially hostile users and devices, unless and until they can prove themselves trustworthy.
This is the main reason driving some organizations to consider phasing out the use of VPNs. But what will this transformation mean for user experience and how can organizations implement such an approach?
How does ZTNA empower change from using VPN?
When considering a VPN alternative, delivering an improved user experience – despite the popularity of bring your own device (BYOD) and work from home (WFH) policies – should be a top priority. head.
VPNs route all traffic through a corporate data center to take advantage of the largely defunct concept of a secure perimeter. But this effectively causes traffic congestion, reducing the performance of the application for the end user. By enabling direct connections to on-premises and cloud-based applications, such as Microsoft® Office 365®, instead of providing global network access to all authenticated users, organizations Organizations can promote secure access without traffic. This leads to crystal-clear teleconferencing applications and enhanced access to data that help businesses grow globally.
By micro-segmentation applications, the change from VPN can be made without affecting security or performance. Micro-segmentation hides apps from public visibility and allows direct connections to private apps and services through identity-based authentication. This process ensures these users are never placed directly on the network. The attack surface is then reduced, preventing problems such as denial of service attacks and effectively eliminating lateral movement.
By consistently granting every user, every device, and every resource request, organizations are empowered to grant “just enough” and “just enough” access to the applications and data that they order. By handling this in the cloud, multiple hardware stacks can be eliminated and costs are reduced.
At the same time, this approach reduces risk by providing organizations with much-needed application layer visibility, to understand who is accessing what, when, and how.
Without an untrusted approach to remote access, it is very difficult to inspect network traffic over a VPN. Often administrators are provided with only high-level data, such as how long a user has been connected to the VPN. Coding blind spots can be very important.
Get started with ZTNA
Any ZTNA journey requires a strategy deeply rooted in security while balancing workforce flexibility and risk. Here are 3 steps to get your organization started on the path to replacing VPN through untrusted network access.
- Consider offloading VPN use cases that can cause network congestion due to your growing remote workforce. Ease into transformation by testing a ZTNA project with selected applications that require access by specific partners, contractors, or even groups of remote full-time employees. These groups can help a business understand what it might look like to roll out a broader program to support WFH and BYOD programs.
- After completing the first step, start phasing out VPN access for the highest-risk use cases, or for users who don’t require full network access, replace it with ZTNA . Doing so will also begin to reduce the need to maintain VPN clients, and administrators can begin to enable broader access to support workforce flexibility.
- Finally, choose a solution provider that offers a full range of trustless solutions, including deep endpoint protection and network-based access control. Doing so will have a more noticeable and comprehensive impact on results – rather than combining products from multiple vendors, this can leave gaps in the organization’s security posture friend.
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