What Is Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA)?

What Is Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA)

Zero trust network access (ZTNA) is an innovative security framework created to protect remote applications without using firewalls and VPNs. ZTA utilizes identity protection, next-gen endpoint technology, XDR services and granular policy controls in combination to offer comprehensive protection of remote apps.

ZTNA brokers authenticate users, devices and context to prevent lateral movement within a business network and thus protect apps from being discovered while simultaneously decreasing visibility of company assets on public internet and thus decreasing attack surface area.

What Is Zero Trust Network Access ZTNA?

Modern organizations require their digital assets to be accessible at all times and from any location by their distributed workforce, which necessitates secure yet reliable access to applications and services via the internet, often bypassing traditional network security measures.

Gartner defines Zero Trust security as a model which assumes threats are present both within and beyond a network, eliminating implicit trust by verifying users, devices and applications on an individual basis. Such models typically utilize software-defined perimeters (SDP) for control over internal resources while mandating strong authentication for unmanaged, BYOD or third-party devices.

VPNs may offer some level of protection, but they fail to recognize the risk posed by devices tainted with malware that might connect. ZTNA solutions take a more precise approach by evaluating each connected device’s threat posture and applying appropriate levels of protection based on this assessment. ZTNA may either require installation of an agent-based app onto each endpoint device, or be delivered as cloud services – each approach has advantages and drawbacks, leading many organizations to employ hybrid approaches that combine both technologies.

How does ZTNA work?

Zero trust systems operate under the principle of least privilege access. Once authenticated, users only see applications and services they have been granted access to by security policy – helping prevent unauthorized users from moving laterally within your network and tightening network security through microsegmentation.

ZTNA begins by authenticating devices using multi-factor authentication (MFA). Next, policies are evaluated against users and their attributes to determine if they can be trusted, followed by one-to-one connections between users and applications on an as-needed basis – much like how people who need to get in touch exchange phone numbers instead of names.

Systems monitor users and their surroundings closely to ensure policies are applied appropriately and system integrity is preserved, which lessens the chance that stolen credentials, malicious insiders, or any other threats cause irreparable harm to systems.

Advantages of ZTNA

ZTNA provides several distinct advantages over traditional access solutions. It boasts superior security, visibility, and control thanks to the “trust nothing, verify everything” philosophy.

ZTNA policies also take device health into consideration, barring users with noncompliant or infected devices from accessing corporate applications – an extra safeguard against malware attacks while mitigating their impact.

ZTNA stands out from VPN in that it enables organizations to apply different security policies for each application, making compliance with data privacy regulations much simpler. This allows more granular control and helps ensure only authorized personnel gain access to sensitive information.

ZTNA stands out by being easily deployed both stand-alone, in the cloud or on-premises – an advantage especially useful in hybrid environments where users access both cloud-based and on-premises applications simultaneously. When selecting your vendor for this deployment option, make sure they offer seamless user experiences; this will reduce complexity, latency and costs while helping organizations scale efficiently.

Security Benefits of ZTNA

Zero trust security models aim to replace traditional firewall-based perimeters with dynamic ones that focus on providing access to applications on a need-to-know basis while verifying users, devices, and networks regularly.

Zero Trust provides secure remote work for BYOD and managed devices alike, while eliminating common attack surface areas that might expose employees’ devices to malware, ransomware or other forms of attack. As a result, Zero Trust minimizes potential damage from malware attacks such as ransomware while simultaneously keeping data accessible for authorized users only.

ZTNA assists organizations with rapidly adding resources, services, and applications securely in an agile manner. Through centralized policy management, IT teams can easily modify and scale access rules for new environments with just a click. This approach also streamlines M&A integration as it reduces third-party risk by restricting overprivileged access for non-employee users and unmanaged devices. With cloud delivery of this solution companies can reduce costs, deployment, management efforts while optimizing traffic paths to achieve maximum application performance.

Top ZTNA use cases

Zero trust network access offers organizations an effective means of protecting their most sensitive data. By isolating application access and restricting lateral movement, ZTNA makes it difficult for hackers to steal or exfiltrate information – and can also reduce breach impacts by preventing attackers from spreading malware throughout an organization’s infrastructure.

ZTNA solutions also feature the ability to conceal network infrastructure and applications from unauthorized users by brokering access at the application layer, thus reducing an organization’s attack surface by concealing IP addresses from public internet access. Additionally, continuous monitoring and adaptive authentication systems ensure user permissions are assessed throughout their session.

Zero Trust Approach solutions provide organizations with a versatile infrastructure and workforce with multiple network types the flexibility needed for success. By replacing VPNs and reducing network complexity, cost, and latency a zero trust approach can improve productivity of employees working remotely on BYOD devices and improving network latency for BYOD devices. ZTNA solutions also form part of Secure Service Edge platforms which combine firewalls, WAN accelerators, and cloud access security brokers into one seamless solution.

How to implement ZTNA?

Modern organizations rely heavily on business-critical applications running remotely for smooth operations. To do so, they require context-aware access for users across platforms, devices and clouds – this helps minimize breach damage by restricting what an attacker can do once inside.

IT teams looking to implement ZTNA should first assess their security risks and create an approach for remote access between users and devices. They should then identify application needs such as when resources can be utilized and what types of authentication will be necessary.

IT teams can select either agent- or service-based ZTNA solutions depending on their security needs. Agent-based solutions require installing an agent on each endpoint device that collects and transmits information directly to a security controller for authentication; service-based ones reside in data centers as software, appliances or cloud services and do not need agents on endpoint devices to collect and transmit information for authentication; both solutions verify users with MFA for initial access and continually validate identities throughout user sessions.


Motorola StarTAC may have been an iconic flip phone, but consumer phones continue to advance with new models offering improved features and functionality. Meanwhile, cybersecurity solutions such as zero trust network access ZTNA and software defined perimeter (SDP) continue to adapt and expand with business needs.

SDP and ZTNA are software-based remote access solutions that conform to the Zero Trust Security Model by verifying users, context, and security posture prior to granting app access. This reduces unauthorized users from moving across a corporate network as well as decreasing chances of malware accessing servers within an organization by siphoning data from endpoints or exploiting vulnerabilities in them.

Though some organizations are ready to move beyond VPN, most aren’t quite ready to give up their current firewall and secure web gateway solutions for the latest technology. Therefore, enterprises often employ SDP or ZTNA alongside VPN in order to reduce attack surface while providing remote workers with seamless and secure connections to applications and reduce attack surface in this way. It also makes scaling IT and security infrastructure simple while simultaneously improving costs while increasing security.


Zero Trust Network Access ZTNA stands out as an exceptional way to safeguard network resources. While traditional VPNs rely on an “all or nothing” approach, ZTNA allows more granular visibility into each user request and authenticates users before connecting to network resources; this helps prevent lateral movement by attackers while also guaranteeing only authorized network resources are accessed by its users.

Zero Trust Network Access ZTNA allows organizations to utilize micro-segmentation in order to further reduce the attack surface, which involves breaking an internal network into segments with separate security controls applied across each section. By restricting attack surfaces, ZTNA helps protect businesses against advanced cyber threats and data breaches in remote-working environments.

ZTNA can also eliminate the need for employees to download and set up VPN clients on their personal devices, which not only enhances productivity but also decreases risks related to unauthorised accessing of corporate applications and assets as well as lowers risks from ransomware attacks or any other cybersecurity threats from employees’ personal devices.

Sam is an experienced information security specialist who works with enterprises to mature and improve their enterprise security programs. Previously, he worked as a security news reporter.