Zero Trust Network Access – A Comprehensive Guide for IT Professionals

Zero Trust Network Access

Zero trust network access, or ZTNA, is a security model that replaces traditional perimeter-based technologies. It operates on the principle of trusting no one by default and requires verification of users, devices and locations.

It’s designed to help companies protect their remote workforce and external contractors connecting to internal systems using infrastructure and devices outside the corporate network. It delivers advanced security capabilities like:


Authentication is the first step to Zero Trust and is vital to a holistic security approach. With a Zero Trust framework, no user, device or application is trusted until identity and access are verified. This includes users inside a network and those outside the network perimeter.

Organizations must implement a system allowing micro-segmentation to limit resource access per session to achieve this. It also requires multi-factor authentication (MFA), which uses two pieces of evidence to verify a user’s identity—a password and a code sent to a user’s mobile phone.

In addition, a Zero Trust solution must enable continuous monitoring to flag anomalous behavior and Separation of Duties conflicts while providing visibility into legacy and contemporary resources. It should also allow the automation to assess requests for access and grant it if key identifiers are low risk. This reduces the amount of manual administration required, freeing up security teams for other tasks. It can also detect patterns that indicate hacking attempts and alert administrators in real-time.

Access Control

ZTNA allows users to see and reach only the applications, data, services, and systems they need to do their jobs. This is achieved by replacing the traditional VPN architecture with a software-defined perimeter (SDP). It removes network appliances like VPNs, firewalls, DDoS protection, and other security infrastructure that add cost and complexity.

A Zero Trust solution must verify identity and device, provide multi-factor authentication and Single-Sign-On, and support the least privilege access principle. It must also perform risk-based assessments of users, devices and the application environment to protect against sophisticated attacks.

ZTNA solutions use various technologies to perform these tasks, including secure web gateways (SWG), firewall as a service (FWaaS) and CASB. These systems must be unified to ensure consistent and productive user experiences across platforms, networks, and locations. This can be accomplished by leveraging a cloud-native, all-in-one solution that includes a SWG, FWaaS and CASB. This solution should also have threat intelligence and analytics. This will allow organizations to refine and improve their security posture continually.


Zero trust network access is a security tool that replaces traditional technologies that allow users to be automatically trusted and given full access to the internal network. Instead, ZTNA provides a secure tunnel that verifies everything from user identity to device security posture. This ensures that only approved connections are made, minimizing the risk of an internal breach caused by compromised accounts or insider threats.

The core principles of Zero Trust are continuous verification, validating access on a per-session basis and limiting the “blast radius” so that the impact of an external or insider breach is minimized. Organizations should include a next-generation firewall with a secure SD-WAN as a segmentation gateway that creates a micro-perimeter around the protected perimeter and enforces additional inspection layers to safeguard all connections.


As a security manager, you must monitor access across all networks and connected devices. Visibility of network traffic and devices is critical so that connections can be verified and authenticated and vulnerabilities can be patched as they emerge. This helps to limit the “blast radius” of a breach and minimizes damage if a compromised account or device can spread malware across the organization.

Zero Trust Network Access requires continuous verification, ensuring that only authorized users gain access to internal applications from any location or device. This requires policies that assess risk using multiple identity factors, device and network context, and granular application access controls. It also means limiting access to resources by applying the least privilege, including for programs like service accounts used by non-employees and contractors.

Managing Zero Trust access from a network-centric perspective eliminates the need for VPNs, secure Web gateways (SWGs), DDoS protection, and firewall appliances. It enables you to build your network with a software-defined perimeter, a virtualized centralized control plane, and cloud workload security, providing visibility, access, and automated response for everything connected to your applications.


Zero trust requires an approach to access control, authentication and monitoring. It requires multi-factor authentication, the ability to verify users with two different methods (such as password and fingerprint) and using granular visibility and analytics. It also uses network micro-segmentation to isolate user access and prevent unauthorized nodes or devices from moving laterally within the network.

It follows the principle of least privilege, meaning that each user only gets access to what they need on a case-by-case basis and does not receive unrestricted access to all systems within the network. Additionally, connections and logins should be set to periodically timeout to force continuous user and device re-verification.

Choose a solution that provides granular visibility and analytics so you can monitor and report on network activity from a single pane of glass. Look for a cloud-based ZTNA option to strengthen security and reduce overhead for your organization without sacrificing end-user productivity. This will ensure that your hybrid enterprise is protected with the same levels of security and flexibility as a VPN system but without the management overhead, slow networks or potential attack surface areas.

Gabriel Montgomery

Gabriel Montgomery

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