Understanding Zero Trust Network Access: Enhancing Security with Vbrick’s Software Solution

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What was considered safe yesterday is already outdated today. In a market where remote and hybrid work models are becoming more commonplace, employers regularly have to deal with an ever-widening span of security and privacy protocols.

One principle that has gained popularity in recent years is zero trust network access (ZTNA). While the term itself is self-explanatory, you may still struggle to realize it because of the countless policies that influence a successful implementation.

So, let’s clarify how ZTNA can contribute to your network security and which other protocols and technologies you should know about to stay up to date.


What Is Zero Trust Network Access and How Does It Work?

With more employees working remotely and using their mobile devices, securing your enterprise against external threats is becoming increasingly challenging. The rising demand for secure video conferencing solutions is only one example. As a modern business, you’re trying to address several evolving cybersecurity concerns, from man-in-the-middle and DDoS attacks to compromised devices.

With 81% of enterprises moving toward a hybrid workplace model, these issues will only grow in importance.

Traditionally, companies relied on a virtual private network (VPN) to guard against these types of threats. And while these offer some protection, they often leave your system exposed.

For instance, an employee could establish a VPN connection to their employer’s corporate network, thus encrypting the transmitted data and preventing man-in-the-middle attacks. However, for the individual employee to work under these secure conditions, everyone must be given access to the entire network. The same holds true if a hacker were to obtain employees’ login credentials, allowing them to move laterally within the corporate system and gather sensitive client data.

This is where zero trust security comes into play. Instead of granting user access based on each employee’s actual or virtual location, this protocol verifies users individually as a prerequisite to access control for each specific application and file. You switch from universal access privilege to privileged access management. That means, even if a hacker does manage to intercept their communications, they’ll only be able to get into the files this employee can open, not the entire network.

Agencies like the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have been promoting zero trust principles for years, treating browsers, policy decision points and gateways as their building blocks.

Under a zero trust architecture, even an authenticated user must request access to individual resources. By following the principle of least privilege, businesses can minimize threats attached to lateral movement, malware and compromised devices.

Implementing these policies requires careful planning and a sound assessment of the processes in one’s own company. That’s why it’s important that you don’t just decide to implement a zero trust model, but rather allocate sufficient resources for the consolidation strategy and maintenance by network administrators.

With Zero Trust, Security and Remote Access Are No Longer a Contradiction

Depending on your company’s size and regulatory requirements, managing remote access can be a challenging task. That’s even more true as your workforce becomes more distributed and uses a broader range of devices to access your internal resources.

If you’ve recently moved to a hybrid or remote workplace, you’ll know that certain solutions just don’t translate into the new model. New setups also mean new technological challenges. Maybe you’ve already experienced how exposures can hurt your business, perhaps because product information was leaked prematurely.

A VPN might be a valuable resource to provide a private channel and protect individual users, but it’s not designed to deliver industry-standard secure access. And, as an entire office moves to home offices, it needs to maintain this environment for several parallel connections. Higher latency can bring video conferences to a halt, and enabling remote access for third-party applications without endangering the whole network is next to impossible.

A well-designed zero trust approach can help you address these issues while avoiding unnecessary risks. To get there, you need a secure web gateway (SWG). If we think of a VPN client as the key to your corporate headquarters, an SWG is the electronic key card securing an employee’s office as well as the adjacent corridor.

In some ways, SWGs act like firewalls, except that they work on an application level, not a content level. That’s why they’re a crucial ingredient to zero trust application access. Through the careful screening of all web-traffic requests and the integration of identity and access management, companies can establish more nuanced policies that consistently require identification or that control how each user interacts with a particular application. Then, an authorized user would be granted admittance based on their identity, and their entry would be restricted to the necessary corporate applications required for their position. Physical entry to offices or recording locations should be considered as part of these policies, along with additional safety measures like single sign-on capabilities.

Since many enterprises have already moved to cloud applications, they’d struggle even more to control access to company assets. In most office environments, every off-site user needs secure remote access to multiple websites unique to their department. With ZTNA, you can easily implement URL filtering and content controls, which protect your workers from malicious content and guard your enterprise system from unwanted access through these distributed solutions.

How To Implement Zero Trust for Cloud Environments

Securing a cloud-based enterprise against unauthorized access is a different game than protecting a downtown office building filled with PCs back in the day. While there’s good reason to celebrate the diversity in hybrid and remote work models, your IT department will equate variety with danger. 

That’s because the vast range of end devices and network environments pose a unique challenge to everyone trying to secure a company’s assets, especially when the security policy is based on implicit trust. Even if the IT department can manage that balancing act, this doesn’t consider the compliance or regulatory issues arising from employees working under different privacy legislations.

Many countries govern the collection, storage and processing of personal data with dedicated privacy laws. Examples include the General Data Protection Regulation in the EU and the California Consumer Privacy Act in the US. If you’re also handling credit card information, that brings in additional regulations like the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard.

To operate securely in a modern-day cloud environment, you have to consider everything from device diversity and BYOD policies to employees working from public Wi-Fi or even installing unauthorized applications, also known as shadow IT. Don’t just plan for your current setup, either. With today’s speed of technological innovation, you should contemplate the effects emerging technologies like artificial intelligence, blockchain or secure access service edge could have on your company. That also means gathering insights about how your business partners approach these trends. In this connected world, nobody operates in a bubble.

From a technical perspective, this requires you to balance identity and zero trust access frameworks with encryption policies that reflect your company policies. Depending on the specific application your team uses, it may require additional measures for API security, network monitoring and vendor management.

One common solution to monitor your employees’ usage of private applications is a cloud access security broker. Think of it as the bouncer observing behavior patterns and potentially warning administrators about unusual events or hazardous actions.

With the rise of data analysis across the entire world economy, you can basically assume that your enterprise security improves with every data point you feed into the process. The challenge is to implement thorough rules to start with. All technical decisions should mirror sensible office policies. You probably wouldn’t give a new intern unlimited access to customer data. The technological equivalent would be a micro-segmentation approach to managing network access, where each employee can work with the tools and databases that match their respective jobs.

As a rule, you should also rely on individual user identification instead of broad unified access. Once you complement this with phishing-resistant multi-factor authentication and a solution for granular application access, you can prevent the biggest threats to your enterprise network. 

Finally, remember that the best security measures are worthless if your team doesn’t understand them. Make sure to provide ample room for ongoing training and security awareness programs. That way, you can rest assured that everyone across your organization knows how to follow policies effectively and doesn’t unconsciously put themselves or company assets at risk.

Vbrick Is Your Path to Enterprise Video Security

Whether through livestreaming or knowledge databases — video is transforming how we work at an increasing pace. The desire to tap into these technological possibilities is understandable. Nevertheless, every company should be aware of the risks associated with such technical innovations, especially when managing sensitive customer data.

At Vbrick, we follow cybersecurity trends closely to deliver the highest standards in cloud security so that you can rest assured your videos are safe. We aim to provide you with the best of both worlds: Our services are SOC 2 audited and GDPR compliant, but we also offer you the granular access control you need to steer user activity within your company.

If you’d like to learn more about how Vbrick’s video security fits into your ZTNA policy, check out our video security datasheet and dive into our key security features.

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