3 Key Reasons Zero Trust Network Access is Critical for Today's Mobile Worker

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As organizations look to offer the option to work from home, in the office or a mix of both, company leaders are forced to contend with the issues that come with a new work landscape, looking for options to increase protection and achieve airtight security. Now, it’s out with the old solutions like VPNs and in with the new. Enter zero trust network access (ZTNA).

ZTNA operates on a model that does not grant immediate or ongoing trust to any user. Instead, it grants application access on a strictly need-to-know basis. ZTNA technology zeroes in on each user and device rather than allowing full access to any given network. It’s a tighter way to keep a company (and users) safe, working on an individual basis to determine whether an access request is trustworthy at a particular moment in time. ZTNA determines if a user or device is suspicious by looking at several factors, giving you visibility into whether device security is put at risk due to an unintentional slip-up, one that could allow outsiders into a company’s network and data.

The ZTNA model has moved forward from trusting the entity to only trusting the transaction. There are a variety of reasons for companies to consider switching to ZTNA. Here are a few.

1) Ideal for Work-From-Anywhere

Flexibility has proven an essential tool in achieving work-life balance. However, working from anywhere exposes companies to expanded risk, particularly as employees operate from multiple devices across multiple networks. VPNs and other traditional security cannot keep up with emerging risks because of their cumbersome configuration and limited flexibility. ZTNA allows configurable and precise access to applications across networks, with quick and seamless checks along the way. This prevents any nefarious actors or malware from accessing an entire network at once –  it’s far easier to detect attempted untrustworthy activity when users, devices and services are making security decisions at each step along the way.

Enhanced security gives companies and employees the freedom to safely work from anywhere without worrying or being burdened by cumbersome processes.

2) Enhanced Ability to Work From Any Device

Just as ZTNA reduces a user’s and organization’s risk by limiting the scope of any authentication to a limited application or service, it also gives employees the freedom to work from any device without compromising productivity OR security. In fact, the average employee accesses sensitive company data across a multitude of devices. It’s an essential development in the work-from-anywhere model, which employees rely on to complete tasks and communicate outside of an office setting.

The core philosophy of ZTNA is that trust is not given; it is earned through deep visibility into device posture and authorization. By requiring devices to pass security checks each time they request access to an application, organizations can rest easy knowing their employees are operating across multiple devices.

3) Protects Companies From Sophisticated Attacks

Cyber-attacks are becoming more frequent and sophisticated as criminals take advantage of emerging vulnerabilities around the world. There is no longer a single point of ingress that could allow evildoers to enter an entire network. ZTNA will enable companies to segment resources at a very granular level and remove firewalls as potential keys to the kingdom.

In a zero trust world, lateral movement and privilege escalation are much less likely. With constant iterative re-evaluation of trust, an attacker can’t take the one thing they acquired and leverage it to access your neighbor’s machine – they are also expected to have a good systems posture, authorization and repeated authentication to services/data. Hackers are incredibly familiar with VPNs and how to exploit their inherent weaknesses, often a basic authentication that once complete grants trust to all future activity. 

ZTNA, on the other hand, adds several layers of protection against sophisticated criminal efforts. Many companies have taken notice – a Gartner report found that by 2022, 80 percent of new digital business applications will be accessed through ZTNA.

To protect against data breaches, it’s essential to consistently improve your security posture to keep up with criminals who constantly improve their capabilities. The ZTNA model protects in a far more secure way than VPNs, as it is not a single gatekeeper for all your data but an actual process for ensuring continuous monitoring, evaluation and RE-evaluation of the trust you are leveraging to access a resource. The kind of protection users want is presented in a streamlined fashion that can give both users and organizations peace of mind.

Networks have to be secure, but that security shouldn’t prevent innovation and forward movement in business. The purpose of ZTNA technology isn’t to stop users from accessing company data – it’s to empower organizations to move at the speed of business to improve operations without constantly worrying about the next security breach.

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