Implementing a Zero-Trust Strategy? Start with Universal ZTNA

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Currently, many IT departments are being challenged to make fundamental changes to their cybersecurity strategies. The changes required are necessary to meet their organization’s demands of digital transformation and the rapid growth of their work-from-anywhere (WFA) workforce. Because users from anywhere need to access resources distributed across their networks, organizations are faced with security gaps and vulnerabilities as their legacy, siloed point products are incapable of providing consistent end-to-end protection.

Cybersecurity strategies that categorize users and devices as trusted or not by whether they are inside or outside the network’s perimeter are no longer adequate. Implicit trust of users and devices inside the network gives them access privileges that are too broad and can lead to devastating consequences if compromised. Because legacy cybersecurity products weren’t designed for ever-expanding, perimeter-free environments, a new strategy is required. Enter zero trust.

The Foundational Elements of Zero Trust

Treat every request for network access as suspicious and always thoroughly check and continuously verify the requestor’s identity. These are the foundational elements of the cybersecurity philosophy called zero trust. The main principle behind a zero-trust strategy is that for networks and organizations to be truly secure, IT teams must believe cyberthreats are ever-present—inside as well as outside the network.

In short, zero trust means no one and nothing can be trusted. Enterprises of all shapes and sizes are adopting a zero-trust security strategy to empower their organization’s digital acceleration, support their WFA employees, and reduce their risk to cyberattacks.

While the transition to a zero-trust model is a key organizational goal, over 80% of the companies trying to implement it are having difficulty, according to a Fortinet January 2022 survey. The same report reveals that though almost all respondents acknowledge that it is vital for zero-trust security solutions and services to be integrated with their infrastructure; work across cloud and on-premises environments; and be secure at the application layer—it’s easier said than done.

Verifying Users and Devices

When adopting a zero-trust strategy, network administrators are compelled to design and employ stringent, cold-hearted trust-no-one security measures. In this process, ZTNA (zero trust network access) has emerged as one of the leading measures and first steps to implementing zero-trust principles in a corporate network.

ZTNA is a capability within a security solution that manages access to applications. It extends the principles of a zero-trust strategy by verifying users and devices prior to each and every application session. It supports multi-factor authentication for the highest level of verification and requires that users meet the organization’s identity standards before being granted access to an application.

Not All ZTNA Solutions Are Built the Same

While the roll out of a zero-trust strategy should begin with a ZTNA solution, not all ZTNA options—like cloud-only ZTNA, for example—are adequate for organizations looking to accelerate their digital transformation and equally support users on and off site. The best choice is a Universal ZTNA solution.

The key benefits of Universal ZTNA include:

  • The same user experience in all work locations

Where cloud-only solutions typically break down are in the dense campus environments with locally hosted applications. A Universal ZTNA solution needs to deliver universal enforcement, the same user experience, and the same security policies no matter where the employees are located – whether that’s on-site, a campus, working remotely from home, or anywhere in between.

  • Easy transition from VPN to ZTNA
    If VPN and ZTNA are managed by the same integrated client from the same vendor, organizations can simply transition application access at their own pace.
  • Integration with SD-WAN
    Universal ZTNA can be integrated with SD-WAN and enterprise-grade security within a single operating system to effectively support secure application access and application steering. A trailblazing cybersecurity vendor will combine all three— ZTNA for secure access, SD-WAN for connectivity, and enterprise-grade security for traffic inspection and protection—so they can be configured, orchestrated, and managed using the vendor’s same centralized console.

Universal ZTNA Testimonials
Organizations that are frontrunners and already employ Universal ZTNA solutions are excited about the benefits they are seeing. One organization’s networking and global security manager says that the new solution has allowed them to control application access for both on-campus and remote users. With ZTNA on-premises and in the cloud, the company’s hybrid workforce was able to access applications while keeping their network more secure and more manageable—using less resources.

An IT infrastructure operations manager found his organization’s shift from traditional VPN to an easier to manage Universal ZTNA solution provided a more seamless end-user experience. Also, the ability to implement granular control over user-to-application access at their own pace made a significant positive difference in their efforts to reduce security risk in their network.

Another company’s cybersecurity practice manager found that converging networking with security was delivering immense value. Also, he said that having next-gen firewalling, SD-WAN, and Universal ZTNA all in one location and on one operating system—that’s consistent whether on-prem, in the cloud, or as a service—led to easier management, better user experiences, and a higher security posture.

When in doubt, start with Universal ZTNA first

Implementing Zero Trust philosophies into your existing security architecture can seem like an overwhelming task. But turning to a Universal ZTNA solution is your best first step toward Zero Trust. With consistent user experience no matter where users are accessing applications, an easy transition from VPN to ZTNA that’s made even better if your chosen solution is integrated with SD-WAN, Universal ZTNA is likely the right choice for your digital transformation efforts.

Learn how Fortinet Universal ZTNA improves secure access to applications anywhere, for remote users.

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