Exploring the Advantages of Software-Defined ZTNA Solutions


Today’s modern organizations need lightning-fast access to private applications for superior productivity. ZTNAs support granular, context-aware access for users and workloads inside the organization’s network or in multiple clouds. A cloud-delivered Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) solution integrates security and networking services with a software-defined perimeter for visibility and scalability. This enables organizations to operationalize ZTNA with greater ease.

Scalability and Flexibility

Modern organizations must make applications available across the organization and to remote users, even if they don’t reside on the corporate network. This is where ZTNA solutions shine. These technologies offer granular, contextual access based on user profiles and security factors to verify identity through authentication while ensuring application visibility to only verified users. They provide an alternative to traditional VPNs with a more secure, cost-effective, and flexible solution. ZTNA solutions are deployed at the network edge, acting like a software-defined perimeter to prevent unauthorized users from seeing services that don’t require access. This helps to protect against lateral attacks that can occur from compromised devices or stolen credentials. It also hides applications from public discovery on the internet, preventing hackers from scanning for services and vulnerabilities that could be exploited. Choosing the right zero-trust network access solution for your organization depends on several factors. For instance, do you want an agent-based model or a service-based model? Do you have specific device requirements, such as BYOD support, that must be addressed? Does the vendor integrate with your existing infrastructure and offer a cloud or data center deployment option? And, most importantly, does the solution meet your security and residency requirements?

Context-Aware Access

As more business applications move to the cloud, organizations face challenges connecting them. Zero trust network access (ZTNA) solutions offer a way to securely connect users and applications, even if they don’t reside on the corporate network. ZTNA is a new generation of technology that offers many advantages over traditional Virtual Private Networks (VPN). The main difference is that the solution sits at the network’s edge — on-premises or in the cloud — and brokers secure connections to internal business applications. The solution also utilizes TLS encryption for greater security and can assess the risk of devices and the user and application request. Another advantage of software-defined ZTNA is that it enables businesses to create separate segments at the application level. This mitigates the risk of threat actors moving laterally from one segment to another, a significant problem with appliance-based VPNs. Organizations should consider the deployment model of their chosen ZTNA solution before purchasing. Standalone, agent-based solutions require installing an endpoint agent on each device. The agent transmits data about the user and their device to a controller, which uses it to authenticate the user and determine their application access. This solution can’t be used with unmanaged devices and could be better for BYOD environments.

Multi-Factor Authentication

With the rise of remote working and the proliferation of BYOD, ZTNA solutions provide a secure connection to business applications, even when those applications do not reside on the corporate network. This helps to reduce the organization’s attack surface and offers the flexibility of granular access control for users and devices. ZTNA solutions can also manage privileged access for sensitive systems and data. The constant and intricate assessments of devices and users that ZTNA provides help to prevent the unauthorized use of secret accounts. In contrast to VPNs, ZTNA allows for granular, contextual, and consistent access checks that constantly evolve based on user identity, device type, location, security posture, and more. This provides the most precise level of security for the most sensitive data, apps, and services. ZTNA solutions also simplify adding and changing security policies and rules without requiring the endpoint agent or deploying new infrastructure components. Software-defined ZTNA comes in two forms – standalone or as a service. A standalone solution requires installing the endpoint agent and requiring extensive internal management and maintenance. A service-based ZTNA solution is a cloud service that sits at the edge of the network brokering secure connections, and is simpler to deploy and manage.

Device Management

Unlike MDM solutions that require the installation of an agent on all endpoint devices, Zero Trust application access (ZTAA) uses lightweight, service-initiated connectors to sit in front of business applications and authenticate them via outbound connections. The ZTNA broker is located on-premises or at a cloud provider, isolating the application from direct Internet access and preventing unauthorized users from connecting. Compared to VPN architectures, this approach provides better control and visibility at the application level and more efficient resource management. The software-based infrastructure of a ZTNA solution also enables organizations to cut capital expenditures and bandwidth costs by eliminating the need for a hardware- or software-intensive VPN client. Another key advantage of a ZTNA approach is its continuous assessment of the device’s security posture. While VPN connections do not perform post-connection monitoring, a ZTNA platform can detect risky behaviors and terminate the connection. Another significant benefit of a ZTNA platform is that it prevents users from having visibility into other applications and services they are not permitted to access. This prevents lateral attacks by hiding IP addresses and protecting the application from malware threats and DDoS attacks. It also contains data exposure on the internet and from compromised user credentials.

Purity Muriuki
I'm a passionate full-time blogger. I love writing about startups, technology, health, lifestyle, fitness, electronics, social media marketing and much more. Continue reading my articles for more insight.


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