Safeguarding Against Sophisticated Threat Actors with ZTNA


Amid an increase in cyber-attacks, organizations must evolve. The usual approach of Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) does not offer any security against credential theft. Enterprises can deploy passwordless MFA that is resistant to phishing attacks and build robust Zero-Trust Network Access (ZTNA) to replace cloud-based SASE, hardware-based VPN, and traditional MFA.

The network perimeter is no longer relevant as connected devices increase and people work remotely more frequently. Businesses must ensure their assets are safeguarded from both internal network users and visitors from the public Web. Businesses require a single ZTNA solution that establishes a Software-Defined Perimeter (SDP) based on the location of users and devices rather than the location of the network premises. SDPs significantly streamline the security stack by authenticating people and devices prior to connection. An integrated ZTNA platform that eliminates the drawbacks of traditional MFA must include phishing-resistant passwordless MFA.

Traditional MFA does not effectively decrease human error. Despite the fact that traditional MFA does away with user-generated passwords, skilled hackers can still penetrate a network through security gaps and unprotected attack surfaces, gaining access to critical assets with just one falsified authentication page or compromised session-based token. Passwordless MFA that is phishing-resistant eliminates credentials and continuously confirms identity before enabling the connection, in contrast to legacy security techniques that offer a connection before validating identity. This is the best option for implementing zero-trust in the crucial infrastructures of businesses.

Also Read: Why Universal ZTNA is Essential to Zero Trust Strategy

One-time passwords (OTPs) for MFA do not address the fundamental issues with access protection of critical systems. OTPs are susceptible to insider threats from service providers, SIM card theft, and phishing attacks that trick victims into entering their password and OTP on a website while concurrently compromising their actual accounts. These hacks demonstrate the need for businesses to remove the human decision from the authentication process without adding costs or complexity to their security stacks. Passwordless MFA that resists phishing is so straightforward that no internal user will attempt to circumvent it and invisible that no threat actor can see it.

Enterprises, however, are opposing the adoption of passwordless MFA to replace cloud-based SASE, browser-based authentication, and outdated VPNs that depend on the cloud-based proxy design that backhauls traffic over a third-party cloud server. There are various causes, including the complexity of passwordless MFA, unease regarding the crowded market for security solutions, and a lack of knowledge of passwordless MFA’s advantages.

Eliminating Passwords to Overcome Organizational Pain Points

The main issue for CISOs and IT managers is spoofability. Passwordless MFA implementations that are resistant to phishing use QR codes that are created by the authentication server of the security platform, which is then validated by a mobile authenticator using a hardware-based biometric and private key verification. Both sides of this interaction are controlled by passwordless MFA, making it impossible for the user’s camera to detect a fake QR code. Without this built-in authenticator, camera phones can still read fraudulent QR codes.

Also Read: Palo Alto Networks Expands Its Protection for SaaS Applications and Reinforces ZTNA 2.0 With New Capabilities

Another difficulty is managing digital certificates. Identity is verified using passwordless MFA without the use of cloud-based exchanges or digital certificate management. Organizations require passwordless MFA that constantly verifies identity using biometrics or FIDO 2 keys, as identification is the cornerstone of secure remote access before allowing a connection.

The private keys are kept on the user’s mobile device in a safe enclave. The likelihood of human error-related phishing is drastically reduced when a choice of actions is removed. A key part of a ZTNA solution is phishing-resistant passwordless MFA, which is supported by high-performance peer-to-peer architecture because it removes decision-making from the authentication loop, addresses the root causes of cyber-attacks, and reduces the blast radius while maintaining high-performance speeds.

Comprehensive ZTNA with Passwordless MFA that is Phishing-resistant

Enterprises should think about replacing their MFA with a ZTNA platform, which incorporates passwordless MFA that is phishing-resistant, and built-in micro-segmentation to streamline VPN and firewall management, in light of the abundance of cloud-based SASE products available on the market. The best ZTNA solution should maintain high performance while encrypting transport and removing the main entry points used by hackers to gain control of a network. Many cloud-based SASE devices do not offer sufficient speed because of backhauling and traffic concentration across shared gateways.

Although many businesses now utilize cloud-based SASE instead of traditional hardware-based VPNs, these newer solutions still encounter performance bottlenecks, which result in dropped connections, poor performance, and unsatisfactory user experiences. CISOs must invest in an additional authenticator for cloud-based SASE. Because these solutions route all traffic via a cloud service provider, giving hackers a single point of failure to accomplish lateral network movement, there is an implicit expansion in the surface of the attack.

Enterprises should use ZTNA with passwordless MFA that is resistant to phishing attacks, removes decision-making from the authentication process, and creates a software-defined perimeter to protect themselves against persistent threat actors that are becoming more sophisticated.

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