Zero Trust Network Access 101: Definition, Use Cases

Zero Trust Network Access 101: Definition, Use Cases

November 29, 2022 By 1 Comment
If you are somewhat interested in cybersecurity, you know that one of the things that are talked about by everyone is Zero Trust Network Access. One of the contributing factors to this popularity is the governments and other regulatory bodies that promote ZTNA frequently. Indeed, this new understanding of network security and user verification has drawn a lot of attention, but what exactly is Zero Trust Network Access?In this article, we will cover all the things you need to know about Zero Trust and explain its use cases so you can decide whether to move forward with it. Right off the bat, we want to start with a disclaimer that Zero Trust Network Access is not a product, but a security framework making use of advanced security technologies. Let’s jump straight to what is it in detail and talk about some benefits afterward.

What is Zero Trust Network Access?

The term Zero Trust was first born in 2010 and was introduced by John Kindervag who was an analyst at the time. Zero Trust was introduced as a modern approach to access control and authorized access.The root of this term is simple; to not trust anything or anyone inside or outside of the network and verify everything before granting access. This is a revolutionary approach when compared to legacy solutions which always thought that internal actors can always be trusted.But with the increased insider risks private networks faced, it was time to bring verification inside the network. By verifying and authenticating every component in a network, Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA) ensures that end-users are only able to view what they are authorized.Unlike legacy VPN solutions where after the user is let into the network they can access everything, ZTNA utilizes network segmentation and advanced verification to control access. Network segmentation is the practice of breaking down your network into smaller pieces and recognizing access levels based on these components. This means that even if a user is inside the network, they need to validate their access requests based on their permission levels.By trusting no one or nothing, Zero Trust acts like there is always a threat, and the network is already compromised. Being one step ahead of the threats enables ZTNA to isolate valuable data, carefully assess access inquiries based on company policies, and reduce surface attacks.Since ZTNA secures everything in a network including SaaS applications and other cloud-based services, it has the ability to bring the verification to the end user regardless of location. We will talk about more of this in the use cases, but this is a reason why ZTNA has been preferred by businesses that migrate to remote work.

Zero Trust Network Access Use Cases

ZTNA (Zero Trust Network Access) has several use cases that make it a great investment for web-based businesses. Hidden benefits such as granular security or the ability to provide safe remote access are what make ZTNA the way to go. Zero Trust would be a great cybersecurity choice for you if one of the cases below fits your business needs.

1-) Controlling third-party access

If you are working with third parties, which most companies do, you are sharing a part of your network and resources with an entity outside of your organization. It’s easy to understand how convenient third-party support is to businesses; they don’t always have the time or budget to execute certain tasks, so they need some outside help.However, third parties such as contractors, partners, or even app providers will need some level of access to your resources to offer value to your business. If you are unable to control the extent of this access, you are risking the integrity of your network.ZTNA allows companies to manage third-party access in-depth thanks to its qualities such as network segmentation and continuous authentication before granting access. Unless you explicitly allow a third party to access a piece of data, they will not be able to.

2-) Preventing insider threats

According to Ponemon’s research, companies spent about $6.6 million on average to recover from insider threats. When you have traditional security solutions that allow full access to resources when the user is inside the network, the cost of an insider threat is likely to increase.ZTNA enforces strict boundaries on users’ access levels to prevent insider threats rooted in phishing attacks, device theft, or stolen credentials. When you segment your network to have smaller access components and control how much a user can access, it is much easier to contain a cyberattack.It is also useful when you are worried about insider threats since ZTNA will force verification before the resources are accessible, meaning that issues like device theft are much easier to detect and defend against. Verifying users in every step will ensure that every move is monitored and allowed.

3-) Meeting regulatory requirements and achieving compliance

Regulatory bodies started to press companies with new standards and regulations on cybersecurity. Businesses are storing a considerable amount of user data, and business owners are responsible for keeping them safe.Achieving compliance can be a complicated process in addition to being a diverse one. There are multiple regulations in place per industry or country. But there is one thing in common; these bodies have realized the impact of ZTNA and started to promote it or mandate it in some cases.Sectors where high-value information is stored such as medical care or finance require granular security on the network. This is to ensure that sensitive data is only accessible by only so many users, and a least-privileged approach is adopted. By using network segmentation and access monitoring, ZTNA simplifies achieving compliance and being on good terms with regulatory bodies.

Conclusion

Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA) is an emerging security framework that is promoted by authorities and IT professionals all over the world. Being cloud-native and having the ability to secure cloud environments and remote work models, ZTNA proves to be a great asset to any company’s cybersecurity structure. With increased popularity over the years, Zero Trust is becoming more of a standard than being something nice to have, and you should also not be left behind.Businesses operating online and storing considerable amounts of user data, sensitive information, and business resources should adopt ZTNA promptly to benefit from high-end network security. Features like network segmentation, constant verification of users and applications, and increased visibility of the network cannot be overpraised.If you work with third-party contributors, need a way to prevent insider threats, or simply meet security regulations, Zero Trust might be the answer. Not a single network is perfect, but we can easily say that ZTNA brings private networks a few steps closer to being impenetrable. 

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1 Comment on "Zero Trust Network Access 101: Definition, Use Cases"

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    January 7, 2023 Reply

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