Zero Trust Network Access: The Next Generation of Remote Connectivity

Over the past few years, we have all become more accustomed to the option of remote work. Many different industries have had to put in place options to allow users to access information remotely. Long ago, the chosen method for this was a dedicated remote desktop server. This allowed users to be able to type in a web address and access a shared server so that they would then be able to access data from inside the network. All software applications needed for work were contained within the remote desktop server. This worked for many organizations that utilized large software applications that could only be run on servers.

The software world then shifted and started giving software client access on individual workstations. The client workstations would still need to speak with a server (usually to communicate with a database). This caused a large shift in flexibility on the software side. Users can now take a laptop with the needed software home and connect into the network using a Virtual Private Network (VPN). This VPN connection would allow the user to use their laptop like they were wired into the main business office. VPNs have been a great way to get connected and have helped many organizations become more flexible with their employees and work schedules.

Remote Connectivity Security

With the expansion of the use of VPN technology, security concerns have come to the forefront. Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA) is starting to gain ground to provide a more secure method of connecting users to corporate resources.

Instead of configuring a VPN to work with the corporate network, a ZTNA agent is installed on the end user’s computer. This agent works to provide a secure remote option that follows the practices of Zero Trust. The ZTNA agent offers granular access control that can block access to resources that the employee should not be able to access. The agent establishes TLS encryption automatically between the endpoint and the access proxy (typically a firewall). The ZTNA also continually scans the workstation to verify that no harmful software is installed that could possibly infect the rest of the corporate infrastructure.

The vendor FortiNet has started highlighting the use of ZTNA. FortiNet has always offered their VPN client (FortiClient) for free, but now they are offering a ZTNA agent as part of the FortiClient. FortiNet also allows for a smooth transition from VPN to ZTNA over time as a feature of FortiOS 7.0 and above.

Have any questions about Zero Trust Network Access and how it can help your organization with remote connectivity security? Please reach out to our experts at any time!

This publication contains general information only and Sikich is not, by means of this publication, rendering accounting, business, financial, investment, legal, tax, or any other professional advice or services. This publication is not a substitute for such professional advice or services, nor should you use it as a basis for any decision, action or omission that may affect you or your business. Before making any decision, taking any action or omitting an action that may affect you or your business, you should consult a qualified professional advisor. In addition, this publication may contain certain content generated by an artificial intelligence (AI) language model. You acknowledge that Sikich shall not be responsible for any loss sustained by you or any person who relies on this publication.

About the Author