Stop Being Afraid of Granting Network Access to Remote Users, Third Parties and Partners

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Connecting to applications is the lifeblood of any organization and even more so in 2020. The reality for organizations of any meaningful scale is that employees and partners often interact with company applications and data from remote locations such as home offices, customer sites, or partner facilities. This distributed workforce model has only become more pronounced with the advent of COVID 19 as businesses transition to remote work and ramp up their digital interactions.

Though staff and integrated third party remote work models have been somewhat commonplace for many organizations for a while now, many of the access models enabling them are outdated and risky.

For example, virtually every company today uses firewalls to enforce perimeter security. Beyond the perimeter, many networks remain relatively “flat” meaning that most users can communicate with one another rather freely including insiders that pose a growing threat. 

If a bad actor breaches the perimeter or compromises a trusted endpoint under this security model, their foothold can often be used to cause wider damage such as stealing company trade secrets or confidential customer information that can negatively impact a brand.

When third parties enter the picture, the level of risk heightens even more. As a result, third parties are targeted by bad actors at a growing rate due to the potential to discreetly compromise the data or environments for customers through them. To make matters worse, nation states have become insatiable in their desire for trade secrets and confidential information on Americans. 

Today many organizations still rely on Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) which have proven to be complex, slow to deploy, hard to manage and inflexible, especially when it comes to providing access to third-party supply chain partners, vendors, contractors and remote employees.

In addition, existing access technologies expose both unmanaged and vulnerable applications and open networks to an increasingly dangerous threat environment that risks a serious breach. This can result in the business being held back, limited by legacy open network (and VPNs) that potentially provide a dangerous level of access to inherently insecure and vulnerable applications. 

At the same time, many enterprises are still migrating to the cloud, enabling single sign-on to systems, apps and data spanning cloud and internal environments. In the cloud, identities truly are the new perimeter where approved requests only come from approved users under the approved policy for approved activity. This is critical to ensuring a safe, controlled environment for users and notably for the security of an organization. 

The Beauty of a Zero Trust Approach 
Zero Trust is an information security framework that provides the visibility and IT controls needed to secure, manage and monitor every device, user, app and network being used to access business data. With Zero Trust, the old saying “trust but verify” is flipped and it’s now “never trust, always verify”. It applies to both outsiders and insiders of the network perimeter at any time.
With a Zero Trust lens, you can see that virtually all applications are fully exposed, vulnerable and deployed in a way that inherently leaves them open to attack. By using a Zero Trust approach, organizations shift to an approach that enables access, security, control and scalability without the complexity.

Zero Trust Application Access can literally be a game changer for organizations – apps no longer run “open” on any network. They are essentially invisible to unauthorized users and most importantly to hackers. Even allowed user activity is continuously and vigilantly monitored, controlled, recorded, audited and managed in real time.

Application vulnerabilities are hidden from hackers, and insider activity and threats can be monitored without modifying the application itself.  

With Zero Trust Application Access, organizations are much more secure, and a cloud-based approach keeps users separate from the network and the applications and enables ease of use for both organizations and users.

The Zero Trust approach to security, security architecture and operations becomes workload-first, data-driven and identity-aware rather than static and perimeter-based which no longer makes any sense in today’s digital economy.

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