Understanding Zero Trust Networking (ZTN): Cutting Through the Hype

As businesses migrate towards digital transformation, ensuring a secure and efficient network infrastructure is paramount. One term that has been gaining traction in this landscape is "Zero Trust Networking" (ZTN). Amidst the flood of zero trust marketing from vendors, let's establish a clear understanding of what ZTN truly is, and how enterprises can discern the value it offers.

Zero Trust Networking Explained

Zero Trust is more than just a buzzword. It is a security concept where no user, inside or outside the enterprise, is implicitly trusted. Building upon this idea, Zero Trust Networking (ZTN) applies these zero trust concepts directly to the network infrastructure.

In a ZTN model:

  • Access is granted only after identity is authenticated and authorized.
  • Network access is confined strictly to necessary resources.
  • Network access is perpetually adjusted based on risk derived from identity and context.

The goal of ZTN is to offer a robust security framework, minimizing threats and maximizing data protection. Yet, the ambiguity surrounding the term has led to confusion, making it imperative to understand its core principles. Let’s address some frequent questions surrounding ZTN:

Q: How prevalent is ZTN deployment in enterprises?

Even though zero trust concepts are gaining traction, the reality is that many organizations are still in the initial stages of their ZTN journey. Research indicates that a minor fraction (less than 5%) of enterprises have fully implemented ZTN in their network infrastructure.

Q: Is ZTN merely an architectural framework?

Contrary to common misconceptions, ZTN is not just an architecture. Instead, it is an implementation method ensuring that network infrastructure adheres to the three primary principles of zero trust.

Q: How does ZTN differ from ZTNA?

While ZTN exemplifies the three principles highlighted above, Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA) is a broader market comprising ZTNA products. Not every ZTNA product can guarantee ZTN's characteristics.

Q: Can I achieve ZTN by merely deploying ZTNA?

The answer is nuanced. Even if you deploy a ZTNA, it doesn’t automatically mean you've established a ZTN. ZTNA predominantly covers access to private applications, whereas ZTN encompasses all network communications.

Q: Do I need a ZTNA product for ZTN?

Not necessarily. However, having a ZTNA product can simplify the implementation of ZTN. Implementing ZTN without ZTNA usually requires intricate orchestration across different products, which can be challenging for many enterprises.

Q: Can microsegmentation or Network Access Control (NAC) be equated to ZTN?

In isolation, probably not. While microsegmentation improves zero trust posture, and NAC can be a component of ZTN, neither fully satisfies all the ZTN requirements.

Q: Are SASE and SSE the future of ZTN?

Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) and Security Service Edge (SSE) do integrate principles of ZTN and are promising for the future. However, their complete alignment with ZTN depends on the vendor and the product functionalities.

Final Thoughts

As organizations venture deeper into the realm of digital transformation, the concept of zero trust becomes increasingly pertinent. By understanding the essence of ZTN, enterprises can make more informed investment decisions that cater to their unique network security needs. Looking for more insights? Check out our case studies or stay updated with the latest trends on our blog page.

Stay secure and make informed choices in the ever-evolving landscape of network security.