What is Private Network Access?
Private Network Access Defined
Private network access is a connection to a secure IT environment that is available only to a specified set of users and devices. In contrast to a public network where virtually any user or device can connect with few or no restrictions, private networks deploy security measures and access restrictions that prevent unauthorized users from accessing the network and resources on it.
Optimizing and securing private network access has become a critical task for businesses and their IT teams. Secure private network access enables businesses to protect their data, users and infrastructure from increasingly sophisticated cyberattacks. With the rise of hybrid workforces and highly distributed IT environments, ensuring fast and secure private network access is essential to increasing productivity and delivering high-speed performance for cloud-based apps and services.
The Need for Private Network Access
Transformational change within businesses and their IT environments has made ensuring private network access a huge challenge for IT teams. Traditionally, organizations built private networks within their own facilities, where users working on-premises could easily access the organization’s private IT resources and data. Security policies focused on creating a secure perimeter around the organization’s digital assets to keep intruders out and sensitive data in.
However, the traditional network perimeter has all but disappeared as organizations have embraced cloud computing. Rather than residing on premises, data and applications have migrated to the cloud, where they may reside in data centers virtually anywhere in the world. At the same time, the pandemic accelerated the shift to a hybrid workforce where many employees no longer work from corporate offices. Yet, to remain productive, these workers need fast and secure access both to internal IT resources and to the cloud-based SaaS applications they rely on every day.
Why Legacy Solutions Can’t Provide Private Network Access
Initially, many organizations attempted to provide secure private network access using legacy technologies like Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) and firewall inspection. However, these solutions are woefully inadequate for the demands and challenges of modern IT environments.
VPNs enable users to use the public internet as if they were connected to a private network. VPNs establish encrypted connections between two devices, creating a secure connection within the internet to protect data as users interact with apps and web resources. While VPN encryption provides some privacy, VPNs don’t provide the level of security or performance that a hybrid workforce requires. VPNs are difficult to manage and notoriously slow with cloud apps. Most worrisome, VPNs allow users broad access to all the resources on a network – which means an attacker that has breached a VPN connection can do the same.
Traditionally, organizations have used on-premises secure web gateways to provide private network access. With this technology, web traffic from remote locations is backhauled to a central data center for security inspection before flowing to its intended destination within the organization or the cloud. However, this approach adds considerable latency to network performance, hindering productivity by slowing down access to business-critical cloud applications.
How Zero Trust Enables Private Network Access
The most effective way to deliver private network access today is with Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA) solutions that eliminate the need for VPNs and centralized security inspection. A Zero Trust approach to security assumes that every user and device may be a threat – users and devices must be continually authenticated and authorized before receiving permission to access the network and resources on it. Additionally, Zero Trust Network Access products grant least-privilege access, meaning that access is restricted to only the application, data or resources a user or device needs at the moment to perform a task. Zero Trust inverts traditional security paradigms where anything inside the network was implicitly trusted, which allowed an attacker who had breached defenses to move freely within the IT environment.
In addition to limiting access in ways that VPNs cannot, ZTNA solutions enable superior performance by eliminating the need to backhaul traffic to a centralized data center for inspection. ZTNA moves security functions out of the data center to the edge of the network, closer to users and devices to eliminate latency. As one of the core elements of secure access service edge or SASE, ZTNA can replace or augment traditional network access control software.
Private Network Access with Forcepoint ONE ZTNA
Part of the cloud-native Forcepoint ONE security platform, Forcepoint ZTNA provides simple, safe and scalable Zero Trust remote access to internal and private cloud applications – without a VPN. Forcepoint ZTNA controls access to private web and non-web apps, allowing employees, contractors and partners to access only the apps they have explicit permission to use. This Forcepoint solution gives IT teams infinitely greater control, even over unmanaged devices and BYOD.
Forcepoint ZTNA enables private network access with fast, pinpoint control. Security teams can limit access to private apps like ERP or supply chain servers based on identity, device type, group membership and location. For non-web apps, teams can apply controls to protect access from unknown locations or devices. When login attempts look suspicious, Forcepoint can trigger Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) to require users to prove their identity.
As a leader among ZTNA vendors, Forcepoint provide a solution that delivers:
- Private app security integrated with advanced threat protection and DLP.
- Remote access to non-private web apps from managed Windows and macOS devices.
- Agentless, Zero Trust access controls for private web apps from BYOD and managed devices.
- Integration with other modern security solutions like Secure Web Gateways (SWGs), Cloud Access Security Brokers (CASBs) and Software-Defined Wide Area Networking (SD-WAN).
- A single console where administrators can manage private network access and enforce security policy.