Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA) Vs. Virtual Private Network (VPN)

What is ZTNA?

Zero Trust Network Access is an IT security solution that enables safe remote access to an organization's apps, data, and services based on access control criteria that are explicitly specified.

Following are some of the prominent features of ZTNA −

  • ZTNA only allows access to certain services or apps, whereas VPNs provide access to the whole network.

  • ZTNA solutions can assist close gaps in existing secure remote access technologies and approaches as an expanding number of users’ access resources from anywhere.

  • ZTNA implements granular, adaptive, and context-aware rules to provide safe and seamless Zero Trust access to private apps housed across clouds and corporate data centers, from any distant location, and on any device. The context can be a mix of the user's identity, the user's or service's location, the time of day, the type of service, and the device's security posture.

  • ZTNA provides each user with valid login keys "least privilege" access to selected apps rather than the entire underlying network, minimizing the attack surface and avoiding lateral transfer of threats from compromised accounts or devices. ZTNA is based on the "Zero Trust" idea, which states that businesses should not trust any entity, whether inside or outside their security perimeters, and instead must authenticate every person or device before providing them access to critical resources assuring data safety and integrity.

  • ZTNA is a major component of Secure Access Service Edge (SASE), which transforms the idea of a security perimeter from static enterprise data centers to a more dynamic, policy-based, cloud-delivered edge to accommodate the distant workforce's access needs.

What is VPN?

A virtual private network (VPN) is a network security technology that establishes a secure and encrypted connection across a public network. A virtual private network (VPN) is a method of extending a private network across a public network like the Internet.

The term merely implies that it is a virtual "private network," meaning that a user can connect to a local network from a distance. Tunneling protocols are used in VPN to provide a secure connection.

Consider a scenario in which a bank's headquarter is in Washington, D.C. This workplace has a local network with about 100 machines on it. Assume the bank has additional branches in Mumbai, India, and Tokyo, Japan. The old technique of creating a secure connection between the head office and the branch was to use a leased line between the branches and the head office, which was both expensive and inconvenient. We can effectively solve this problem with the help of a VPN.


VPNs give every user a valid login key to complete network access. In the event of a cyberattack, ZTNA blocks user access to specified apps, reducing data exposure, and threat lateral movement.

VPNs lack app-level restrictions and offer no visibility into user behavior once within the private network. ZTNAs track every user action and give more visibility and monitoring of user behavior and hazards, allowing for more educated, data-driven controls for safeguarding sensitive material within apps. The logs may be fed into SIEM systems for a consolidated view of user activities and threats in real time.

  • ZTNAs can also be linked with an endpoint security solution to provide adaptive access based on ongoing device security posture assessment.

  • VPN connections do not consider the dangers provided by end-user devices when assessing endpoint posture. A device that has been infiltrated or infected with malware can quickly connect to the server and obtain access to internal resources. ZTNAs examine connected devices on a continual basis, certifying their security posture and allowing adaptive access to resources based on the device trust necessary at the moment. When danger is detected, the device connection is promptly canceled.

  • VPNs aren't built to accommodate today's increasingly dispersed workforce. Every user connection being routed through centralized VPN hubs causes bandwidth and performance difficulties, as well as a poor user experience.

  • Users may create direct-to-app connections with ZTNA, allowing for quick and safe access to corporate resources housed in IaaS settings or private data centers, as well as flexible and scalable cloud deployments.

  • ZTNA saves money by removing the need to buy expensive VPN gear and manage the complicated infrastructure configuration at each data center. Furthermore, distant users do not require separate, resource-intensive VPN software to create secure connections.

Updated on: 11-Apr-2022


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