What is Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA) in Cybersecurity?

What is Zero Trust Network Access?

In the ZTNA paradigm, access is granted only once if a user has been authenticated by the ZTNA service, which then gives secure and encrypted access to an application or network. The service stops users from seeing programs or data they don't have authorization to see, preventing lateral movement by a potential attacker. This type of movement would otherwise be conceivable if an unauthorized device or agent could utilize a compromised endpoint or permitted credentials to pivot to other services or apps.

Protected apps are concealed from discovery using ZTNA, and access to them is limited to a group of preapproved entities via the ZTNA service (also known as a trusted broker).

Only if the following requirements are satisfied, a trusted broker will allow access to an entity −

  • The broker receives the appropriate credentials from the entity (a person, device, or network).

  • Access is being sought in a legitimate context.

  • Within that framework, all applicable regulations for access have been observed.

  • Access policies in ZTNA are flexible and may be altered according to system requirements.

  • You can, for example, implement location or device-based access control in addition to the aforementioned criteria to prevent vulnerable or unauthorized devices from connecting to a secured network.

Advantages of ZTNA

Following are the advantages of implementing ZTNA:

Enhance Security

Within their network ecosystems, ZTNA enables enterprises to establish a zero-trust security approach. This may be used in a variety of scenarios and enhance the security posture of the company.

Use of VPN

Following COVID-19, most businesses have transitioned to a mainly or entirely remote workforce. Virtual private networks (VPNs) are widely used to support this. VPNs, on the other hand, have a number of drawbacks, including scalability and a lack of integrated security.

One of the most serious problems with VPNs is that they provide an authenticated user full access to the network, exposing the firm to cyberattacks.

Integration of SASE

ZTNA can be integrated into a remote access solution as part of a software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) or secure access service edge (SASE) solution, limiting remote employees' access to the network to only what they need for their employment.

Restricts Cloud Computing

The majority of businesses are adopting cloud computing, and many have numerous cloud platforms. Organizations must restrict access to these cloud-based resources to lower their attack surface.

ZTNA allows businesses to restrict access to their cloud environments and apps based on their business requirements. Within the ZTNA system, each user and application may be allocated a role with the relevant rights and permissions for the organization's cloud-based infrastructure.

Account Compromise Risk is Reduced

Cybercriminals frequently seek to hack accounts. An attacker will try to steal or guess a user's account credentials and use them to log into the organization's systems as that user. The attacker has the same degree of access as the authorized user as a result of this.

Provided Rights & Permissions

Implementing ZTNA can assist in reducing this amount of access and the damage that a hacked account can do. The rights and permissions provided to the compromised user account limit the attacker's ability to move laterally within an organization's ecosystem.

Cybersecurity Risk Reduced

Implementing a zero-trust architecture reduces an organization's cybersecurity risk significantly. An organization lowers the harm that a malevolent insider or a hacked user account might cause by restricting users' access and permissions to those essential for their jobs.

Implementing ZTNA inside an organization's network environment is regarded as a cybersecurity best practice, and it does not necessitate a major network overhaul. ZTNA may be implemented in a variety of ways, either as stand-alone solutions plugged into existing network infrastructure or as part of a digital transformation program to replace VPN with SD-WAN or SASE.

Working of ZTNA

To further comprehend ZTNA, we may apply the following four basic principles −

Restricts Access

ZTNA restricts access to certain applications rather than the entire network. To put it another way, users are only given access to the applications they require, not the entire network. There's no need to be concerned about the network being harmed if devices are hacked.

Hides Network from Unauthorized Users

ZTNA hides the network infrastructure from unauthorized users, making it hard to locate the network. Consider it a closed loop, with only authenticated users gaining access to the network's applications and services.

Employs Native App Segmentation

ZTNA employs native app segmentation, which allows authorized users to access only specified apps rather than the whole network.

In the same way, as software-defined perimeters (SDP) prevent users from seeing or accessing software or programs to which they have not been allowed access, ZTNA does the same. This creates a "black cloud" infrastructure, which can assist improve a company's network security measures.

Implements User-Centric Strategy

ZTNA takes a user-centric strategy rather than a network-centric approach, encouraging internet use and deemphasizing network utilization.

Updated on: 18-Apr-2022


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