Beyond VPNs: Zero Trust Network Access for Enhanced Security and Flexibility

A zero-trust approach provides watertight security for remote work and is engineered for today's hybrid IT environments. It offers granular network access, real-time monitoring, and additional security checks that VPNs cannot match. Zero trust networks are replacing traditional VPN connections for their ability to provide scalability, identity verification, and flexibility.

Authentication First

As the number of remote workers grows, businesses need to find a way to securely support them without adding friction to their work processes. Zero trust network access solutions – secure access service edge (SASE) or software-defined perimeters (SDP) – provide a better option than VPNs to protect employees and data while supporting productivity. Zero trust solutions operate on the principle that something is only trusted once verified. This is a critical security strategy because it limits the "blast radius" of a cyberattack, making it easier to detect and stop it. Unlike VPNs, which allow anyone who can log in with the proper credentials to move laterally within the network, zero trust authenticates users based on context. This means that the user, device, and location are all checked to determine if it is an authorized connection. The result is a solution that can detect and block advanced threats that traditional firewalls or VPNs might not have detected. Zero trust solutions also include continuous authentication, which ensures end-users are constantly authenticated, authorized, and validated before gaining access to the network. As part of a more comprehensive security framework like a SASE or SD-WAN, zero trust allows you to implement micro-segmentation for more granular access control policies that help keep the most sensitive information protected.

Permit Access Second

Zero trust networks provide security at the application level, minimizing an organization's attack surface. It uses micro-segmentation and network isolation to allow access to internal applications based on identity, context, and device posture. It also limits the "blast radius" if a compromised device or an insider threat gains access. A Zero Trust solution verifies all connections before an application session begins. This allows for using any browser, mobile, or remote device without compromising security. It enables organizations to protect data in any cloud environment and support an unstructured workforce. It can be deployed on-premise, in the cloud, or in a hybrid to scale to an ever-increasing number of users and devices. Traditional firewalls and VPNs can't handle today's distributed workforce. They're slow, expensive to maintain and deliver a sub-par user experience. Zero trust network access solutions enable secure, direct connections to cloud apps with minimal latency and networking complexity. They can also reduce cost and improve productivity by reducing the need for hardware and software-intensive VPN clients.

Monitor for Changes

The lines between home and work life have blurred with the widespread adoption of remote and hybrid work. With employees working on their own devices, traveling to different offices or locations, and switching between business and personal apps, IT teams need to have a way to secure this dynamic workforce with robust cybersecurity solutions. However, traditional approaches like VPNs must catch up when securing these dynamic workers and their diverse device types. The problem is that VPNs are context-blind and grant access based on correct credentials only. This allows attackers to move laterally throughout the network if they get in—whether targeting user authentication, malware infections, or worse. Almost half of surveyed organizations report having suffered VPN-centric attacks in the last year alone. A better solution is Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA). ZTNA separates application access from network access, offering direct and managed connections that only connect users to the applications they need via an encrypted pathway — not the entire internal network. This is similar to getting access to a single safe deposit box versus the whole library of books, dramatically reducing the chance of a breach. It also supports using best-in-class security technologies, including CASB, DLP, and ATP, to protect data and mitigate device risk.


As the world of work becomes more mobile, remote workers need access to the applications they depend on, and organizations need robust security solutions that protect the business. VPNs are outgrown as an effective solution for many remote work scenarios. The apparent heir to the VPN throne is Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA), which provides secure, direct, and managed access to internal applications via an encrypted pathway, enabling users to see only the data they are authorized to use. ZTNA does not rely on a single factor such as user location or IP address to authenticate users and devices but instead continually assesses the device security posture to enable adaptive access based on the context of the device. The device connection is then terminated if it poses a risk to the network, ensuring that sensitive data is not exposed. ZTNA's service-initiated approach eliminates the need for appliances, which can be costly and cumbersome. It helps organizations simplify their inbound stacks by removing firewall devices, VPN concentrators, DDoS protection, and global load balancing. In addition to addressing the traditional security challenges of VPNs, ZTNA also helps improve network speed and delivers an enhanced end-user experience. By eliminating performance bottlenecks, IT teams can empower their users to securely connect to private web apps on BYOD and other unmanaged devices.

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