Beyond The Buzz: What is Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA)?

The concept of Zero Trust has increased in popularity, but most people still don’t understand entirely the importance it can pose to the safety of your organization or small business.                                                       

Traditional firewalls and VPNs simply don’t offer the level of security needed to protect remote workers from external threats. Trust is no longer implicit. Every single user must be fully authenticated and vetted, regardless of role. 

That’s where Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA) comes into the picture. In this article, we will be breaking down all the hype surrounding the four-letter acronym.

Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA) – Going Beyond the Perimeter         

Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA) refers to a set of technologies that restricts and allows access to a network based on predefined control policies and permission sets

Since 2021, over 83% of organizations reported phishing attacks which could have easily been prevented by implementing Zero Trust security policies and assigning least privilege access across the network. The process of continuous trust verification must be enforced even after access to a particular application has been granted.

How Does ZTNA Work?                                            

ZTNA works only once a user has been fully authenticated using an encrypted tunnel. This prevents any unauthorized use of any application that was not approved by the administrator, shielding an organization from lateral movement attacks and other types of credential stuffing attacks.

Each department or sub-group in the company will have well-defined access restrictions. These network restrictions may be tightened further, depending on the employee or contractor.

For example; a third-party may request access to an AWS cloud environment (i.e. an S3 bucket)  that contains very sensitive customer information such as billing details; that section would immediately be blocked for that third-party but available for the organization’s finance team only.                                                           

ZTNA also makes use of hidden IP addresses to ensure all Network transactions are secure.                                                     

Implementing ZTNA

The key elements of a successful Zero Trust Access Network model can be broken down into several steps which include:

Identifying  Segment and isolating all data, such as cloud resources and user accounts.

Understanding – Have a clearly defined set of company security policies, especially for BYOD in a remote workspace setting.

Mapping – Map out the transaction flows entire network and the resources located in it.                                                       

Monitoring – User sessions are continuously monitored to pick up any suspicious behavior within your network or applications.                                                         

Why You Need ZTNA                                                         

Here are some benefits of implementing ZTNA:                                                                  

Advanced Protection From Online Threats

ZTNA agents scan file formats and data for the presence of any malware and block them before they can enter the network. Some ZTNA models offer advanced threat protection (APT) on user devices.

Reduced Attack Surface                                                    

Zero trust operates by restricting user access to certain parts of the network. With this protocol in place, even in the case of a data breach, instead of getting access to the entire network, the hacker is limited by the access constraints of the user they hacked.

The average cost of a data breach for those without a Zero Trust approach was $5.04 million, with the number shrinking to $3.28 million for those with Zero Trust strategies already implemented.                                                      

Making Network Applications Invisible                                                                

Unlike traditional security measures, ZTNA does not expose IP addresses to the network and creates a darknet. This process keeps applications hidden from the public, thus reducing exposure.

How to Implement ZTNA                                           

There are multiple ways to implement ZTNA service into your network. Here are some popular implementation methods

Network Microsegmentation

Admins are able to create security zones and other cloud environments (Azure, Salesforce, etc.) to segment all workloads and restrict data flows by enforcing strict access control policies.                                                                                 

Secure Access Service Edge (SASE)                               

Another way to implement ZTNA within your network is through SASE deployment. SASE is a set of technologies that converge network and security into an all-in-one cloud-native service. ZTNA is a critical component of the SASE architecture and restricts all movement outside the edge or endpoint with the enforcement of granular access policies.  

Advanced Authentication & Authorization

Multi-factor authentication (MFA) is a simple way to ensure that Zero Trust policies are in place. Advanced authentication features such as MFA provide extra layers of security to each device beyond a username and password.

MFA relies on specific factors such as a person’s unique fingerprint, facial scan, or retinal pattern, greatly reducing the possibility of a security breach scenario.  

Conclusion                                         

Is ZTNA just a buzzword? Zero Trust is more than just a mindset. With more organizations shifting to an entirely remote working model, ZTNA has become the staple for hybrid security.

Zero Trust Network Access has redefined what it means for your network to be truly secure in the constantly evolving landscape of remote work.

The attack surface becomes significantly reduced as you have the ability to migrosegment your network and enforce granular access controls between all workloads and cloud environments. The foundation for a more secure network infrastructure is here. Adding ZTNA as part of your security stack should be at the top of your priority list.

 Sponsored by Perimeter 81

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