The pandemic has highlighted the importance of secure remote access for businesses. Mobile working, working from home, and remote access have also become potential employees incentives. Companies should therefore rely on Zero Trust Network Access.
Many companies still use outdated remote access solutions like Virtual Private Networks (VPNs). However, these were not designed for modern companies with distributed locations. The move to Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA) is an approach that brings numerous advantages for remote access. For Managed Service Providers (MSPs) offering remote access solutions, there are several benefits to moving to ZTNA. Their customers also benefit from this. Deploying ZTNA as part of a Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) offering opens opportunities for both MSPs and end users.
Stricter Security Controls For Remote Access
VPNs are designed solely to create a secure network connection between two points and do not have built-in features to inspect traffic. Instead, they provide users with unrestricted access to corporate resources. However, when companies use VPNs for remote access, they expose themselves to a whole range of cyber threats. These include, for example, credential stuffing attacks. Compromised credentials are still one of the most common causes of serious data breaches. It is not uncommon for an attacker to gain access to the entire company network and sensitive resources using stolen credentials. In addition, VPNs are prone to vulnerabilities that can be exploited.
ZTNA offers the same remote access capabilities as a VPN but on a case-by-case basis. This method allows effective implementation of access controls based on the least privilege. When MSPs leverage ZTNA in customer environments, they minimize the risk of attacks and reduce the potential impact of security incidents. This positively affects the customer experience and reduces any necessary restoration costs.
More Transparency And Control
VPNs offer unrestricted access to the corporate network and ensure a user experience similar to working in the office. VPNs don’t care about the ultimate destination of network traffic. Therefore, they do not collect the related information either. For companies and their MSPs, this inevitably means they have limited visibility into VPN usage.
ZTNA allows access to corporate resources on a case-by-case basis. Access decisions are made based on the account requesting access, the resource desired, and the level of access involved. Access is then granted or denied based on this data and an organization’s access controls and policies.
So the approach performs a thorough inspection of traffic and access management. The resulting audit logs provide an MSP with essential insights. This enables him to see which accounts are accessing which different resources remotely. This makes it easier to investigate potential security incidents and identify configuration errors and other problems. But also strategically allocate resources based on existing IT infrastructure and hardware usage.
Increase Performance And Scalability
During the pandemic, the limits of performance and scalability became apparent to all. In some cases, companies were forced to switch from on-site work to home office or mobile working within a few weeks. For this purpose, a VPN infrastructure was often set up, or the existing one expanded to connect far more users than was ever intended for the existing solutions. However, VPNs do not scale ideally, and significant performance issues can arise when the infrastructure is overloaded. Remote access based on VPNs often overwhelms the existing network infrastructure. In addition, there are no inconsiderable latency times. Another problem is the insufficient support for mobile devices.
As a result of the pandemic, VPN users groaned under significant latency times. Why? Traffic to the cloud-based applications and data storage through VPN appliances was rerouted through on-premises data centres. As is always the case in such cases, many employees are beginning to look for alternative solutions to access (not least sensitive) data more efficiently. Due to non-optimal VPN infrastructures, the number of unauthorized services (also known as shadow IT) has risen sharply in many companies in recent years. Again, ZTNA can be the right approach.
ZTNA Increases Customer Satisfaction
ZTNA solutions optimize performance and increase security levels by moving away from the perimeter-focused security model of a VPN. More corporate infrastructure and resources are migrating to the cloud, and employees rely on high-performance access to SaaS solutions. And it makes no sense to route traffic through the corporate network. With ZTNA, it is possible to perform access management in the cloud, thereby significantly improving the user experience.
This is also a plus point for MSPs: Higher customer satisfaction. Dissatisfied employees usually complain about performance and latency problems to their own company, which then to the MSP. In addition, an MSP with ZTNA can eliminate inefficient routing and thus relieve the infrastructure.
Remote Access: Functionality With Added Value
VPNs provide easy network connectivity for remote users. A company needs additional standalone solutions if it wants further access controls or security for the data traffic flowing over the VPN connection. An MSP can expand their services with minimal effort by moving from VPN to ZTNA for secure remote access. ZTNA provides access management for MSPs, and the data generated by ZTNA can be processed and visualized on dashboards for customers. This gives them additional insights into network usage and network security status. In addition, there are ongoing support services for the administration and maintenance of ZTNA solutions that an MSP can offer to its customers.
SASE Extends The Capabilities Of ZTNA
Moving to ZTNA is a sensible way for MSPs to make remote access solutions more secure and effective. ZTNA offers more functionality, higher performance and security. The solution is also easier to manage and maintain than a VPN-based infrastructure. However, the advantages of ZTNA can be expanded even further, namely, if you use the approach as part of a SASE solution. SASE is deployed as a network of cloud-based Points of Presence (PoPs) with dedicated, high-performance network connections. Each SASE PoP integrates ZTNA with security and network optimization features. This ensures high-performance and reliable connectivity and enterprise-grade security for the WAN.
By moving to ZTNA, an MSP can significantly expand its range of remote access services. When ZTNA is used in conjunction with SASE, the entire network and security services portfolio is positively impacted. This improves not only the overall offer but also the operation of your solutions.