Zero Trust Network Access Defined
Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA) is a security solution for IT networks that enables remote users to access private applications and services from any location on any device. ZTNA solutions rely on the Zero Trust security framework, where no person, instrument, or application is automatically trusted inside or outside the network. Every request must be authenticated and verified before access is granted.
Zero Trust Network Access provides greater security than Virtual Private Networks (VPNs), the traditional technology for securing remote connections. Where VPNs provide users full access to the network and its resources, ZTNA solutions strictly limit access to prevent attackers from moving laterally throughout an IT environment.
The Need for Zero Trust Network Access Technology
VPN security has become too limited, costly and risky as the workforce becomes more remote and distributed. VPNs provide a secure, encrypted connection from a device to a network over the internet.
This encrypted “tunnel” prevents unauthorized individuals from diverting or eavesdropping on the traffic and allows sensitive data to be transmitted safely. But VPNs are perimeter-focused solutions that provide broad access to users once they have connected to the network. As a result, VPNs allow attackers to move freely throughout an IT environment after they have breached initial defenses.
Additionally, VPN technology is intended primarily for users connecting to corporate applications from approved devices rather than to cloud environments from BYOD devices. VPNs also provide a frustratingly slow user experience and are difficult for IT teams to configure at scale.
In contrast, ZTNA solutions deliver greater security, faster speeds and more control and visibility for IT teams. This is why Gartner, in its Market Guide for Zero Trust Network Access, recommends that security and risk leaders pilot ZTNA projects.
How Does Zero Trust Network Access Work?
Zero Trust Network Access products apply Zero Trust principles to network connections. These principles include:
- Constant authentication. Users, devices and applications must be authenticated whenever they request resource access.
- Least-privilege access. Only the minimum amount of access needed to perform a task should be granted.
- Microsegmentation. Rather than broad network segments, Zero Trust environments segment individual workloads, applications and critical IT assets to improve security by preventing lateral movement.
- Continuous monitoring. ZTNA security requires teams to assume a breach has happened and monitor the network to remediate threats continuously.
When applying these principles to network access, ZTNA solutions separate network access from application access. Rather than providing blanket access to applications, users must constantly authenticate before accessing an application.
In addition to authenticating requests based on the identity and role of the user, ZTNA may use additional factors such as the location, timing and frequency of requests, the apps or data being requested and other factors.
To implement Zero Trust Network Access, organizations may deploy various solutions, such as software-defined perimeter technology or network access control software, from ZTNA providers.
The Benefits of Zero Trust Network Access Solutions
The Zero Trust Network Access approach to security provides enormous advantages over traditional VPN solutions.
- A better user experience. ZTNA provides secure, fast, uninterrupted access to private and cloud-based applications from anywhere on any device, delivering a better user experience than VPNs.
- Easier management. ZTNA allows teams to work with a single solution rather than a disparate network of VPNs, internal firewalls and virtual desktop technology.
- Greater control. ZTNA offers granular access controls and context-sensitive policies that allow IT teams to fine-tune security.
- Tighter security. ZTNA solutions dramatically reduce the risk of lateral movement by attackers who have successfully gained access to an IT environment.
- Effortless scalability. Zero Trust Network Access solutions can scale quickly to accommodate more users as organizations grow.
- Quick deployment. While traditional network security solutions may take weeks or months to deploy, ZTNA can be implemented in a few days.
Zero Trust Network Access from Forcepoint
Forcepoint is the leading data security company, helping clients to safeguard their IT environments while enabling digital transformation and growth. As one of the industry’s leading ZTNA vendors, Forcepoint provides Zero Trust Network Access technology as part of Forcepoint ONE, a unified security solution for web, cloud and private apps.
With Forcepoint ZTNA, organizations can:
- Provide fast, secure remote cloud and private network access. Remote workers can connect to private and cloud-based apps using their own devices via browser shortcuts or single sign-on portals without downloading an agent.
- Manage ZTNA policies easily. IT teams can manage one set of guidelines with fast, pinpoint control, limiting access to private apps based on identity, device type, location and other factors.
- Enforce data loss prevention. Built-in data loss prevention technology keeps sensitive information from being lost or leaked.
- Block malware. Malware-scanning engines detect and block malware in data-in-motion between users and any private web app
- Streamline compliance. Forcepoint ZTNA simplifies compliance with various regulations by providing demonstrable processes for controlling information.