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The rise of hybrid work arrangements, the widespread adoption of cloud-based applications, and the reliance on third-party providers have ushered in a new era of connectivity and convenience.

Unfortunately, these trends have also created a perfect cybersecurity storm. As organizations embrace these digital transformations, the attack surface expands exponentially, providing adversaries with a wider range of entry points to exploit with increasingly sophisticated and elusive tools.

Adding insult to injury, traditional security measures, which focus on protecting the network perimeter, often fall short in securing vast and complex enterprise IT environments with similar force, leaving interior networks less defended.

To respond effectively to this complicated mix of cybersecurity challenges, it’s time for organizations to adopt a more robust and proactive security posture built around a foundation rooted in zero trust network access (ZTNA).

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This article explores the transformative role that ZTNA can play in mitigating today’s cyber-risks and shares how organizations can facilitate a smooth and efficient transition to the approach.

What is ZTNA?

The concepts of least privilege access, segmentation, and continuous verification are core principles familiar to any cybersecurity professional. ZTNA takes these elements to the next level, using a set of security controls that enable the mantra of “trust no one, verify everything.” 

As introduced in the National Institute of Standards and Technology Special Publication 800-207, ZTNA, and the network architecture that facilitates it, operates on the principle that no implicit trust will be granted to services or users based on the source (physical or network) of their request. This can be especially important when users need secure access to applications and data that are not inside a traditional security perimeter, which has become common in the age of cloud and hybrid work.

In practice, ZTNA divides a network into isolated segments to limit lateral movement of potential threats, continuously monitoring and verifying access requests to prevent unauthorized access. Implementing ZTNA requires a strategic approach to data and access control. This includes understanding the network schema, identifying sensitive data and its flow, and setting up effective policies and controls.

Once in place, ZTNA significantly ratchets up the ability for organizations to mitigate the risk of not only unauthorized access at the edge but also in each subsequent link in the cyber kill chain. This includes limiting lateral movement by potential attackers even once they gain a foothold within the network.

The Benefits of ZTNA for Your Organization

Once in place, ZTNA can be a powerful way to protect and manage an enterprise network. Some of these benefits include: 

  • Enhanced security and reduced risk of data breaches: ZTNA reduces the risk of data breaches by ensuring that access to digital assets is granted only after thorough verification.
  • Improved regulatory compliance and eligibility for cyber insurance: By implementing ZTNA, organizations can demonstrate their dedication to a robust and proactive approach to cybersecurity.
  • Increased visibility and control over resource access: The systems that enable a ZTNA allow for detailed visibility into who has access to what resources, which permits organizations to monitor and control access more effectively.
  • Seamless integration with existing security infrastructure: ZTNA solutions can be integrated with existing security tools and systems, further unifying control without the need for significant redesign.
  • Scalability and flexibility for future growth and changes: ZTNA is designed to be scalable and flexible, making it suitable for organizations of all sizes.

A Road Map for ZTNA Adoption

While every organization’s transition to a ZTNA approach will be unique, generally, organizations will follow a similar road map. 

Some of the key waypoints include:

  • Assessing the current security posture and identifying gaps: Understand your current security measures, network schema, user workflows, and the nature and location of digital assets.
  • Defining ZTNA objectives: Identify critical assets to protect and prioritize them using established frameworks, such as a risk management framework
  • Selecting a ZTNA solution: Choose a ZTNA solution that fits your organization’s needs and objectives. Whether it’s the comprehensive security suite Extreme Networks offers or the proven features of SonicWall ensure the platform provides the flexibility and scalability to evolve seamlessly with your operations.
  • Planning and implementing ZTNA: Implement ZTNA in a gradual, phased approach, starting with critical systems and expanding to other areas as needed.
  • Communicating the change: Educate your employees about the why and how behind the new security measures and their role in implementing ZTNA principles.
  • Monitoring, maintaining, and continuously improving: Regularly review and update your ZTNA policies and practices to ensure they remain effective against evolving threats.

The Role of Organizational Leaders in ZTNA Adoption

As described above, the transition to ZTNA will usher in a number of powerful benefits to organizational security. But, as with any other initiative, organizational leaders will play a crucial role in making the move a success. 

A few of the key ingredients to successful leadership during ZTNA adoption include:

  • Setting the strategic vision and prioritizing resources to make the move happen
  • Driving engagement and buy-in up and down the organizational chart and across functional areas
  • Sparking and maintaining the culture shift that values proactive security and encourages continuous improvement
  • Allocating resources and support needed for successful implementation of ZTNA

Request a Security Assessment from Logically

It only takes one look at the front page to see that cyberthreats are more sophisticated and pervasive than ever. 

Fortunately,  ZTNA offers organizations a flexible, comprehensive, and effective approach to securing their entire network infrastructure against these threats and the ability for attackers to expand access. By adopting  ZTNA, organizations can enhance their security posture, improve regulatory compliance, and ensure the protection of their critical assets without interrupting legitimate business workflows, whether on-prem or in the cloud.

Ready to start your journey toward ZTNA? Let the Logically experts analyze your organization’s current setup and provide recommendations on how to improve your security posture based on your unique needs.

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