At enterprise business levels, managing, securing, and monitoring the IT infrastructure cannot simply be left to chance. It requires meticulous planning and constant attention to evolving cyber threats. As the world turns ever more digital, and as workplaces start a diaspora that moves away from fixed work locations, work assets, and data centers to cloud models that embrace user-owned devices and global access, the need to keep your business secure against cyber criminal intrusion is more urgent than ever. One of the most secure and high-profile security frameworks in use currently hinges on the idea of zero trust- but what does that mean for the average business? And how does it benefit them? Let’s take a look.
What is Zero Trust Network Access?
Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA) is often thought of as a single, silver bullet-type solution to cybersecurity issues. While it is one of the most robust security policies in use today, it’s not a single source product, but rather a framework with a collection of policies that help ensure safer access to your networks and data and a robust internal security, even for cloud-based data storage and servers.
The core idea is frighteningly simple- there is no device, user, or resource that is automatically assumed to be safe when accessing your data or networks. No matter who they are, or where they connect from, they will be tested against set security protocols, and only allowed to access applications or data after verification- and then only strict points of access they are confirmed to need, not the network in its entirety.
This contrasts with the traditional security model, which sets a ‘perimeter’ of security around your core data, but does no further testing past that point. Once a device or user is ‘inside’ this perimeter, it is treated as more trustworthy then those ‘on the outside’. Zero trust, as the name suggests, gives no one inherent trust, and will always test boundaries.
While it can sound a little restrictive, in practice it isn’t- most of these security protocols are split-second checks easily automated by your security procedures. In turn, you have a far more secure environment that drastically reduces the risk of breaches of sensitive data or corruption/infection of digital assets.
In particular, it shines in cloud data access. After all, boundaries are near-impossible to enforce when there is, technically at least, no boundary at all! So instead, it focuses on security for resources. As more devices, locations, and people use networked services, increasing what is called the ‘attack surface’, or potential points of intrusion by cyber threats, this has become a critical change.
How Do Zero Trust Network Access Policies Help Business?
Due to the wide-reaching and holistic nature of zero trust network access, it has an immense range of security benefits for enterprise business. Here are just a few of the key aspects.
Accurate Control of Digital Infrastructure
IT and administrators need to have an accurate handle on all data, devices, users, applications, and digital services in play in the corporate infrastructure, as well as impeccable knowledge of where all important digital resources are located on the network.
Due to this, an accurate infrastructure ‘inventory’ is always accessible. Not only does this help enhance security in your business, it also helps with aspects like scalability, long-term performance, and growth needs as well as financial planning.
Better Monitoring and Alerts
One of the core principles of zero trust policies is that intrusion is monitored in real-time. It uses aspects like event and log analysis to gain insight into common threats and how to solve them. And it has the ability to act immediately when a breach is detected. Even if it is successful, this immediate response and notification, as well as the minimized nature of access across the network, any intrusions that do occur are smaller, contained more quickly, and easily minimized, saving costs and time.
Improved User Experience
Traditional security protocols put a lot of pressure on the end users. Passwords must be vigorous and difficult, emails must be monitored for cybercrime threats, and so on. Because of the inherent ‘suspicious’ nature of zero trust policies, it is typical to implement single sign-on tools for users, simplifying their workday experience and reducing the burden on their shoulders- and the risk that creates.
SSO authentication frameworks also precisely control what resources a specific device or user can access.Not only can they authenticate themselves once for convenience, but SSO allows you to strictly control what they are accessing, ensuring it is only what they need to do their job.
Simpler Security Policies
Somewhat related to the previous point, zero trust may seem overwhelming or complex on paper, but it actually significantly reduces the complexity of threat prevention. Traditional security practices demand a wealth of security tools- think passwords, malware scanners, etc- that are all independently updated, configured, and deployed across users.
This fragmented nature leaves your infrastructure more vulnerable, as it is possible to miss devices, misconfigure security checks, or simply forget about users. Because Zero Trust uses a single, universal policy that is created and managed end-to-end throughout the enterprise, it reintroduces simplicity without sacrificing safety. It’s a streamlined approach for administrators, and also reduces security holes throughout your infrastructure.
Building on this idea, you also skip the need for manual recreation of security procedures as you change the shape of your enterprise. App and data security is centrally managed, meaning you can easily migrate and adapt as needed as your company changes and grows.
Zero trust Network Access and related policies are some of the best insurance we have against data breaches, theft, and malicious intrusion into our wide-ranging modern digital business networks. With centrality and a defining principal of treating all devices and users as needing authentication at all points of access to the network, you build a more robust and safer security architecture that’s easier for end users and administrators to manage, and builds in a more robust authentication process that helps keep your data safe and secure.