The ongoing revolution in home working has created major challenges for the IT industry. As staff move out of the secure office environment to homes far and wide there are significant security issues to overcome.
This problem is accelerated by the increased diversification of IT networks. Any corporate system may now embrace various cloud stores and data centers.
Company networks have to be easily accessible to workers wherever they are – but must remain secure against outside intrusion.
The industry’s state-of-the-art security systems are now evolving from the traditional virtual private networks – to more sophisticated zero-trust network access solutions.
The ZTNA provides a simple and secure connection to the network. All users are verified before being allowed into an application.
System controllers will note that a ZNTA system needs to be implemented using various sophisticated IT components like a client, a proxy, authentication and security. This can be a logistical problem.
The best way to implement ZNTA is to use a unified solution from one of the leading established providers. The Perimeter 81 ZTNA solution for example allows access to a network only when both the user and the device have been verified.
This allows employees to connect from any location. They can also be using various authenticated devices.
The Perimeter 81 system will also give the IT department the reassurance of greater protection against threats to the network as well as more visibility about what is happening at any time.
This is why ZTNA is such a flexible system of controlling remote access. It can apply equally well to remote users, home offices, office headquarters and retail premises.
Users will note that access is actually faster and smoother than with the old VPN system. Employees will find it easier to use.
The development of ZTNA solutions has been a response to the increased use of remote working. From an IT point of view this makes the network more vulnerable.
Staff members are more likely to be working outside of the traditional network security perimeter. These employees could be accessing valuable data and assets of the company or operation.
They could be using one of several of their own devices via various public or private networks.
In the language of the IT world, this means the network’s attack surfaces are much wider than before. In the old system of implicit trust, the network is more exposed to threats from outside.
These traditional systems were based on the concept of establishing a safe zone in which any user would be trusted. This has increasingly been found to leave a network open to all sorts of threats.
After an initial verification a user can access anything in the system. It lays the network open to the threats to everything from its cloud storage to its individual devices.
A more secure solution is to restrict all users to what they need for each specific task. That’s why the ZTNA principle is never trust a user, always verify at every stage.
ZTNA provides a framework that combines security for an organisation’s systems, data, applications and any digital assets. The protection is based on carefully pre-determined access control rules.
Every single connection in the network is verified, whether the user or the device is outside or inside the network perimeter. This is done continuously throughout the use of the system.
Every user within the network is checked at every stage. Every user and device is verified before being trusted.
No unauthorised access is permitted. The organisation’s assets and data are continuously protected.
The main problem with implementing ZTNA solutions is that many think they are too complex.
Both organization chiefs and end users often believe the migration from VPN to ZTNA will be problematic and that the new system will be slow and difficult to use. Neither of these need be true.
The implementation of ZTNA can be smooth. The best place to start is communicating the benefits of zero trust across the organization.
It should be portrayed as a positive change for all users. Carefully planned training and information will pave the way for an easy migration to ZTNA.
Many organisations then find it best to implement the ZTNA gradually, replacing VPN systems in a piecemeal fashion. They begin with the high value assets that require the greatest security, perhaps the financial or client database.
Switching specific parts of the network can give IT teams a chance to monitor the effectiveness of the solution. It often works best if employees should be included in how the changes are working.
Again, training and communication are helpful in keeping everyone on the same side as the migration proceeds.
A new system that’s more sophisticated and comprehensive? Organisational chiefs will be worrying how much extra the ZTNA will cost.
The great news is that it can actually reduce costs. Organisations can reorganise to use more resources on the cloud which will be covered by the security of the new zero trust system.
The one-for-all access policy will cover all off-and-on-site users reducing the need for multiple security systems. There could be a reduction in the number of protection tools required in the network.
Automated verifications will free up time in the IT department allowing expert staff to work on other projects.
Perhaps most importantly, ZTNA will provide much better security against theft. Its cost will be minor compared the cost of a major data breach.