While there is no silver bullet for preventing cybersecurity threats, ZTNA has become crucial for enterprises on their digital transformation journey since it allows them to reduce their attack surface while maintaining the productivity and efficiency of their remote workforce.
Traditional security perimeters have become obsolete in this new work-from-anywhere era, as each employee’s remote office has effectively become an extension of the corporate office. Furthermore, several businesses have hastened their digital transformation by shifting workloads to the cloud. As a result of these dynamic developments, the attack surface has grown, necessitating a reconsideration of how access to company resources is granted.
Security practitioners can no longer presume implicit confidence among apps, users, services, devices, and networks in today’s perimeter-less environment. As a result, many businesses have begun to embrace a Zero Trust approach and are contemplating using Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA) solutions to supplement their traditional network access security concepts such as demilitarized zones (DMZs) and virtual private networks (VPNs). But, when it comes to implementing these new solutions, what best practises should security professionals follow?
ZTNA solutions construct a logical access boundary around an application or a set of applications based on identity and context. Users are permitted access based on a variety of parameters, including the device in use, as well as other qualities such as access request time/date, device posture, and geo-location. The solution dynamically delivers the right level of access at that precise time after considering the contextual attributes. Because the risk levels of devices, users and applications are always changing, access choices are made for each unique access request.
While many businesses indicate that traditional VPNs are still used for some legacy applications, ZTNA is most typically used to supplement VPNs as part of a larger attempt to move to a Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) paradigm. Unlike a standard VPN, which provides full tunnel access to an entire network segment, ZTNA offers a solution that centralizes access policies and allows for very granular access controls, limiting users to only the apps that they are authorized to access. As a result, any lateral movement in the network is ruled out inherently.
Furthermore, because the applications are hidden from discovery and access is restricted to a group of specified entities via a trust broker, ZTNA enables a solid isolation of an organization’s applications from the Internet.
Crucial Factors to Consider
Here are some crucial aspects that businesses can consider when deploying emerging technologies like ZTNA to help avoid pitfalls.
- Evaluate Application Usage Before Implementing ZTNA: Because the link between users and applications is one of the contextual factors in granting access decisions, it’s critical to get insights into application usage prior to the implementation process. Businesses can use endpoint visibility solutions to help with this discovery process by providing insights on the usage of both installed and web applications.
- Define Granular Access Policies: Businesses should not approach ZTNA in the same way they use standard VPNs, which allow users to access all applications. Instead, they should devote some time to developing granular access controls based on specific uses and defining user-specific regulations.
- Get Rid of Standing Application Entitlements: As part of the ZTNA project rollout, organizations should take advantage of the opportunity to clean up application access privileges based on their evaluation of application usage.
- Create a Continuous Feedback Loop: Application access policies should evolve in tandem with business needs. As a result, it’s critical to fine-tune existing access policies on a regular basis.
- Obtain early buy-in from users and business leaders: As with any technology implementation, it is critical to obtain early buy-in from both business leaders and users. As part of the initial planning phase, a user focus group is an important tool to implement. Prior to proceeding into the implementation phase, these individuals can provide early inputs, as well as highlight any issues about user experience. This saves costs by skipping rounds of iterations that would otherwise be required, and it also helps to raise overall adoption rates.
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