A few months ago, we published a blog post encouraging organizations to make 2023 the year of zero trust network access (ZTNA). We are now five months into the year and our position hasn’t changed. Here at Hillstone Networks, we are firmly behind ZTNA as an exceptionally powerful way to protect applications and data.
In its simplest form, ZTNA is a security strategy that leverages multiple technologies to create access boundaries around data, applications, and network locations. Boundaries are both identity and context based. Rules can be written to shut out users with no need for access.
What sets ZTNA apart from other access control measures is that it starts from the bottom and works up. It assumes that no one should be trusted. Trust is only gained through gradually increasing permissions based on identity and context.
With all of that said, here are five verifiable benefits of ZTNA:
1. Hardened Security
Whenever you can forcibly limit access through permissions, you have hardened your security. That is exactly what ZTNA does. ZTNA forces a network to verify user identity before granting access. Identifying the devices being used is usually part of the equation as well. Strict verification policies reduce the risk of data breaches by limiting the potential for unauthorized access.
2. Better Compliance
Organizations that store at-risk data are required by government regulations and industry trade groups to protect that data at all costs. ZTNA improves compliance through access controls, detailed audits, and other measures. In addition, audit data can prove compliance if the question ever comes up.
To be clear, data security is not optimized when access isn’t controlled. A network that operates as a free-for-all to anyone who wishes to roam around freely is not in compliance. ZTNA guarantees that the free-for-all scenario never becomes reality. This is how you maintain compliance.
3. A Less Complex Network
Securing a modern network can be a challenging task on the best days. The more complex a network is, the more complex its security measures need to be. One of the big advantages of deploying the ZTNA strategy is reducing network complexity. ZTNA allows organizations to be less dependent on traditional security tools, including firewalls and VPNs.
Before moving on, a cautionary note here: deploying ZTNA does not justify eliminating those other tools. It is never wise to unnecessarily remove layers of security if they are not interfering with network performance. The idea with ZTNA is simply to reduce how much an organization depends on traditional security.
4. Better User Monitoring
Better user monitoring is inherent to the ZTNA philosophy. Few organizations deploy ZTNA primarily to keep track of user activity, but they do enjoy enhanced monitoring as a fringe benefit. There is nothing wrong with that.
5. Increased Productivity
Hand-in-hand with better user monitoring is increased productivity. How is productivity improved? ZTNA facilitates secure access to data and applications even when users are off site. It opens the door to getting work done on multiple devices, from multiple locations, at any time of the night or day.
Such enhancements actually encourage collaboration. They give team members more opportunities to make better use of their time. Combine the two and you have an environment more conducive to productivity.
The Hillstone Networks team understands that ZTNA isn’t appropriate for every network. It is not the right access control solution for every enterprise. At the same time, we also know it works extremely well in environments suited to it. We are big fans of ZTNA and recommend its use whenever doing so makes sense. We would be happy to help your organization deploy ZTNA on your network.