Zero Trust for Digital Business: Bye-bye VPN!

Pranav Kumar
May 25, 2020

Imagine a new world, where you have stepped into a jet-propelled digital business ecosystem. You want to leverage the power of Cloud, and a connected world. Your focus is on outcomes; and it does not matter whether your employees are working from their home, office, or anywhere else. You also realize the need to have your supply chain connected if you must truly achieve operational efficiency and deliver better customer experience.

But you face a dilemma. As you expand to use the internet to open applications access to your employees & supply chain, you are concerned new threats will emerge. Do you also wonder what will happen in a 5G world? By logic, it will further expand the attack surface with that super increased connectivity. In this new setup, you question if IP and location is sufficient to allow access to your network. You are concerned about cyber vulnerabilities.

So, you are looking for a solution that can enable your workforce and the entire digital ecosystem to work without exposing services directly to the internet. You find out that a solution exists to provide application-level access once the user & device is authenticated.

The solution is based on a principle of Zero Trust i.e. trust no one, verify everyone. The term ZTNA stands for Zero Trust Network Access and is gaining popularity in the enterprise. Rather than allowing direct access to the network, a trusted broker mediates connections between authorized users and specific applications; thereby reducing the surface area of the attack. Work gets done and security is not compromised.

The Prediction made by Gartner, in its April 2019 article, states that ‘’By 2022, 80% of new digital business applications opened up to ecosystem partners will be accessed through zero-trust network access (ZTNA)”. It went on to predict that ‘’By 2023, 60% of enterprises will phase out most of their remote access virtual private networks (VPNs) in favor of ZTNA.’’

The Architecture of ZTNA is indeed far more secure compared to VPN. While VPN provides access to a network, ZTNA provides access to an application or resource, allowing granularity of access. In terms of traceability, VPN only registers who has logged in, but ZTNA goes further to track who has logged in to what resources. Furthermore, ZTNA allows for rapid access to applications, declare new accesses, and assign these new accesses.

It is time to phase out VPN, or at least pilot run ZTNA. You will find ZTNA to be more agile, secure, and scalable; and VPN will soon be left behind as a thing of the past.

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Pranav Kumar

Excited about digital disruption and exponential impact of emerging technologies; I have a deep passion for technology, business, and progress. I envision a future where an intellectual and responsible use of technology will positively change the future of work, and life.