Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA) Defined
Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA) secures network connections by applying the principles of the Zero Trust framework. Zero Trust security assumes that every user, device and application may be a threat and requires constant authentication before granting access to network resources. Authentication is based on granular and adaptive policies that take context into account, including the user’s identity and location, time of day, type of access requested, the security posture of the device and other factors.
With ZTNA technologies, access is only granted to specific resources and applications rather than to the entire network or large parts of it. This practice prevents attackers who have successfully breached network defenses from moving freely throughout an IT environment. Zero Trust Network Access solutions also provide a far better experience than the Virtual Private Network (VPN) technologies that IT teams have traditionally relied on for secure remote access.
Why Is ZTNA Important?
Hybrid workforces are the norm in a growing number of organizations today. As a result, the traditional network perimeter has disappeared. Users may need to access applications and resources from anywhere in the world, often using personal devices on unsecured connections. In this environment, traditional security solutions for remote access, like VPNs, are ineffective.
VPNs provide a secure tunnel over the internet between a device and a network through which encrypted traffic can pass, protected from certain threats. But VPNs operate with inherent trust, allowing users broad access to applications and resources on the network. Consequently, VPNs can’t prevent attackers who have successfully gained access to a network – using stolen credentials, for example – from moving freely throughout an IT environment to access high-value targets.
Additionally, because they backhaul internet traffic through central data centers, VPNs consume a great deal of bandwidth while offering a sluggish user experience. Configuring hundreds or thousands of VPNs to meet the needs of a growing organization is prohibitively time-consuming for IT teams.
In modern, highly distributed IT environments, ZTNA provides much better security, is easier to manage, and delivers a better user experience.
How ZTNA Works
When organizations deploy a ZTNA system, it incorporates the variety of Zero Trust practices that support a Zero Trust approach to network connections. These include:
- Constant authentication. ZTNA requires users, devices, or applications to authenticate on every request for access to IT resources.
- Microsegmentation. In a Zero Trust framework, the network is divided into many smaller segments, each with its own set of security policies. IT teams may even choose to individually segment critical workloads, applications, and assets.
- Least-privilege access. Rather than granting broad access to network resources, ZTNA solutions provide only the minimum level of permissions required to complete a task.
- Identity and access controls. Technology like multifactor authentication and software from network access control vendors significantly reduces the opportunities for threat actors to gain unauthorized access.
- Continuous monitoring. Assuming that threats are already present in the network, IT teams managing a Zero Trust network continuously search to find and remediate breaches as early as possible.
While ZTNA decouples access to resources from access to the network, it unifies access to applications running on private clouds and SaaS-based offerings. This enables easier access for users and provides more control and scalability for IT teams.
Zero Trust Network Access can be deployed as an agent-based or agentless solution. Agent-based ZTNA focuses on protecting endpoints, and connections are initiated through an agent installed on each device. This model requires organizations to deploy and manage all ZTNA elements. Agentless, or service-based, ZTNA is a cloud-based model where ZTNA vendors provide connectivity, capacity, and infrastructure.
The Advantages of ZTNA Solutions
Zero Trust Network Access technology delivers significant benefits for organizations seeking to enhance security and provide secure remote access for a hybrid workforce. With ZTNA solutions, organizations can:
- Prevent lateral movement. By requiring users to constantly authenticate on every request, ZTNA stops attackers who have gained access to one part of the network from moving laterally to access other areas.
- Increase application security. Zero Trust Network Access prevents users from discovering private applications on the public internet and protects organizations from malware, data exposure, and DDoS attacks.
- Enhance the user experience. Zero Trust Network Access enables greater speed, direct-to-cloud access and a much more consistent experience when accessing SaaS and private applications.
- Greater visibility and control. ZTNA makes it easier for IT teams to enforce security policies, manage vulnerabilities, detect breaches and gain complete visibility of the network. IT administrators can monitor all resources and network activity from a single dashboard, with complete visibility into who is accessing applications and resources.
- Seamless scalability. With a cloud-based ZTNA service, organizations can easily scale capacity to meet the needs of a growing workforce.
- Implement a Zero Trust framework. In its Market Guide for Zero Trust Network Access, Gartner suggests that ZTNA can be a step toward a more widespread Zero Trust networking security posture.
ZTNA Technology from Forcepoint
Forcepoint ZTNA is the leading Zero Trust Network Access solution and is part of Forcepoint ONE, a hyperscale-based cloud platform with 300 points of presence (PoPs), global accessibility and proven 99.99% uptime.
With Forcepoint ZTNA, IT teams can control access to private web apps and non-web apps by providing explicit permissions for each employee, contractor, and partner. This ZTNA solution gives organizations infinitely greater control over network security while allowing users to access the network with devices that work best for them.
Forcepoint ZTNA provides organizations and their IT teams with:
- More control. Forcepoint ZTNA delivers continuous, fine-grained controls that can limit access to private apps like ERP or supply chain servers based on a user’s identity, group membership, device type and location. Suspicious logins can be redirected in milliseconds to a multifactor authentication technology.
- Easier access. Forcepoint ZTNA allows users to connect over the internet safely and conveniently to web apps hosted behind a firewall, even on personal and unmanaged devices, without needing to download an agent.
- Data loss prevention. Advanced DLP capabilities provide real-time controls to ensure that sensitive information remains within the organization.
- Anti-malware technology. Forcepoint blocks malware and ransomware by detecting potential threats in data-in-motion between users and any private web app.
- Support for SASE architecture. ZTNA can be combined with CASB, SWG, and other technologies on the Forcepoint ONE platform to support Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) architecture.