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ZTNA Solution Vs. VPN Key Differences

Zero trust network access (ZTNA) solutions authenticate users based on identity, device posture, and location. They also provide granular access control to limit what systems and applications remote users can see. This helps organizations minimize their attack surface while keeping employees productive in remote work environments. It also protects against lateral attacker movement when the user’s endpoint or credentials are compromised.

Security

ZTNA solution is an excellent choice for organizations looking to reduce their reliance on traditional VPNs for remote work. They help ensure that every user and managed device connecting to internal applications undergo a rigorous identity verification and authentication process, whether inside or outside the corporate firewall, on their own devices, in BYOD environments, or on the public internet. They also provide granular access control that leverages the principle of least privilege whereby each user is authenticated and granted access to specific applications on a case-by-case basis with policies defined by an application security gateway or centralized policy management platform. These gateways or policy managers can evaluate context and device security posture, require multi-factor authentication, and assess compliance. They can also implement micro-segmentation of the network by implementing software-defined perimeters, allowing for a separation of traffic to prevent lateral spread in the event of a data breach. ZTNA solutions are typically cloud-delivered, so they can be deployed closer to the apps and services, delivering better performance for users than traditional VPN hardware that has to backhaul traffic across the corporate network.

Scalability

Compared to legacy VPNs, zero-trust network access (ZTNA) requires a much lighter load on the device. In addition, it eliminates the need for employees to remember and configure a VPN client whenever they want to use company applications on their unmanaged devices. This increases productivity and makes for a more seamless experience overall. ZTNA also allows for a more secure remote work environment since it minimizes the attack surface of cloud applications and other unmanaged systems. This is accomplished through software-defined perimeters that micro-segment networks, allowing for the lateral spread of an attack to be stopped and contained. Furthermore, because of its granular approach to security with adaptive policies and vendor-managed cloud service, ZTNA scales more effectively than legacy hardware VPN solutions, requiring less bandwidth for high performance and consistent delivery. This is especially important with more remote workers working in hybrid environments.

Flexibility

With a ZTNA solution, you can have granular security controls that allow you to connect users to applications and resources, even when those resources do not reside on your corporate network.

This is essential in today’s remote and hybrid work environment, especially if you have contractors or employees with BYO devices. A ZTNA solution is also more flexible than a VPN because it is cloud-delivered and does not require hardware to be installed on your network. This helps improve performance and user experience because you can keep security policies closer to the apps you protect and don’t have to backhaul traffic to a central location. A good ZTNA solution can be easily deployed on a Software-Defined WAN (SD-WAN) platform, which is an ideal way to enable secure remote access. These solutions use a zero-trust architecture to replace the perimeter-based security models legacy VPNs use. This approach enables businesses to move beyond the limitations of traditional VPNs with faster, more secure networks built for digital transformation and distributed work. The right solution for your business will depend on your security needs and budget.

Management

Zero Trust Network Access solutions are generally better for BYOD environments than traditional VPNs. By enabling remote work, employees can maintain productivity and enjoy a streamlined working experience, highly appealing to 78% of workers. Unlike VPNs, ZTNA solutions authenticate users on a least privilege basis, which allows them to connect to specific applications based on their devices and context. This significantly reduces the attack surface and can prevent cybercriminals from moving from one application to another. With granular access control and compliance enforcement, ZTNA solutions can manage security at the application level rather than at the network level. This helps organizations to comply with industry and regulatory requirements. The best ZTNA solution providers offer a secure, easy-to-use end-user experience and a fast device setup process. They also provide a centralized management console for streamlined user enrollment and policy implementation. Look for a solution that offers visibility into application activity to help you identify peak load, capacity, and license usage. 

Speed

ZTNA solutions use a dynamic, application-based access control model that limits access to private web applications based on user role, device, location, and other factors. This reduces security risks by limiting privilege and eliminating unnecessary access while enabling multi-factor authentication and real-time malware scanning for data transmitted to and from private web apps. In contrast, VPNs backhaul users’ traffic through a corporate data center, which can slow down performance. With remote working here to stay, companies must have secure ways to connect their mobile workforces to company applications and other resources. While some organizations stick with traditional VPNs, others are adopting Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA) solutions that offer better security, a more efficient setup process, and a more seamless employee experience. When considering a ZTNA solution, ensure the platform offers an optimal end-user experience and easy management, enrollment, deployment, and policy updates. It should also have visibility into application traffic to help identify and address peak loads, capacity issues, and license usage. This helps to avoid security breaches and prevent a slowdown in employee productivity.

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