Zero Trust Network Access: What and Why?

ZTNA, NAC, SDP, RDP, VPN: Making sense of the remote access alphabet soup.

Zero Trust Security is a hot topic and with good reason. But what does it really mean in practice, when applied to solving remote access security challenges? In this post we provide an introduction on Zero Trust Security as it applies to Network Access (ZTNA) to help sort it out.

Before Zero Trust, a user or device was validated as having the correct credentials and the right to access the network. Once that step was complete the user or device had a wide open path to the network and resources. To mitigate the risk that a valid user would access systems they weren’t supposed to, role-based access control (or RBAC) was implemented. In theory this worked in conjunction with least-privileged access (the Principle of Least Privilege or PoLP) so that users were only granted access to the resources they needed and nothing more.

VPNs – Virtual Private Networks – are the ubiquitous technology for providing remote users access to enterprise resources. However, they are a network-layer technology, meaning that once the user is validated and logged in, the user’s device now has an open network connection to the corporate network. To mitigate the security risk of this open pipe, in addition to RBAC and PoLP, enterprises deploy Network Access Control (NAC) to verify first that a given device has the correct security posture – is the device allowed, independent of the user? Does the device have up to date AV running and passed a scan? And so forth.

VPN
Legacy NAC and VPN for accessing corporate networks

Once a user logged in to the VPN client, and his device passed the NAC security check, one of the most common resources accessed are remote desktops, most often with Remote Desktop Protocol or RDP. Although it is a proprietary Microsoft protocol, it does have cross-platform support for non-Windows devices.

That in essence is the technology stack most widely deployed in enterprises today to enable remote access: VPN clients where devices are validated by NACs. Users are granted access based on RBAC, PoLP to resources, including remote desktops over RDP.

Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA) offers a simpler, more secure alternate vision. ZTNA turns the existing paradigm on its head – rather than open up a wide open pipe and then retroactively find ways to narrow it down, ZTNA assumes no device or user should be trusted, and no access granted by default except that explicitly required only for the duration required.

This is critical in a world where there is no fixed perimeter any more, but rather a software-defined perimeter (SDP).

TransientAccess takes ZTNA and SDP a step further, delivering true app-to-app connectivity over disposable networks. That is, there is never a device to device connection, nor is a user validated for anything more than what the user needs access to for the time the user is accessing it.

TransientAccess Zero Trust Network Access
TransientAccess Zero Trust Network Access

TransientX has a unique approach to Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA):

  • A lightweight agent, creating a disposable virtual network connecting the local app to the enterprise resource on-prem or in the cloud.
  • A “Transient Virtual App Network”

This approach means TransientX can deliver on the promise of truly secure remote access for an organization’s workforce and business partners. Learn more in our intro video, contact us to get TransientAccess now or scroll below for further reading:

Further Reading:

https://transientx.com/content/zero-trust-network-access.html

https://transientx.com/content/zero-trust-network-access.html

References:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Principle_of_least_privilege

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Role-based_access_control

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virtual_private_network

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Remote_Desktop_Protocol

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Software_Defined_Perimeter

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