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5 Critical Features Of Your Zero-Trust Access Strategy

  Greg LaBrie     Sep 14, 2021

zta strategy blog fortinetAs global industry evolves, digital innovation that features a hybrid, “from anywhere” business environment has become critical to modern workforces. New formats, like zero-trust access (ZTA), allow employees and external partners to utilize digital resources, no matter when or where they choose to work.

But this new approach creates complications for CISOs and other IT executives because business applications and data leave traditional corporate perimeters. Specifically, it broadens the attack surface of internal networks. Combined with evolving threats, this factor dramatically expands the risk of potential breaches.

In this article, we’ll explore how a zero-trust access approach to security featuring endpoint protection can help.

Mitigating Risk At The Edge

Conceptually, traditional security models feature “gateways” whereby permitted entry means users and devices can be trusted in perpetuity. But unpredictable and broadening access points render this traditional approach obsolete. Bad actors can steal credentials and access networks from any device, for example. This threat increases the complexity and risk of more frequent, more nuanced attacks.

ZTA is therefore critical to security as digital innovation continues. With ZTA, CISOs and other executives can ensure all users, devices, and applications are consistently authenticated, trustworthy, and managed. ZTA ensures users have only the correct frequency and depth of access as well.

What Is ZTA With Endpoint Protection?

The ZTA framework features a combination of security solutions that continuously and holistically identify, authenticate, and segment users and devices seeking network and application access. With these capabilities, security teams can:

  • Establish identity through multiple authentication and certificate measures
  • Enable role-based privileged access
  • Ensure ongoing network control through automated orchestration and threat response
  • Optimize the user experience, even with rigorous security measures

Essential Zero-Trust Access Capabilities For Modern IT Security

ZTA does more than offer superior security as enterprise attack surfaces expand. Enterprises that incorporate ZTA with endpoint protection as part of their integrated security strategy also enjoy the flexibility to support their business needs, beyond traditional security models.

Three critical capabilities ZTA features that optimize security and workflows on expanded networks include:

1. Authentication for Every Device, Every Time

Unlike traditional perimeter models, a ZTA-based security strategy assumes every user and device poses a risk. In this paradigm, ZTA authenticates every device before access is authorized. Because ZTA provides a seamless experience for users, automated security features can continuously authenticate devices every time a new or familiar device requests access, without adding friction to user workflows.

2. Role-Based Access for Every User

In this paradigm, security teams continuously monitor every user, no matter the user’s apparent risk. As part of this approach, security teams have visibility into the role-based access of every user, emphasizing a “least access policy” whereby users only access resources that are necessary for their roles.

3. Asset Protection, On and Off Network

Increased remote and mobile activity among users means that there is a greater risk they will expose their devices to bad actors. In doing so, they expose organizational resources to security threats, whether they realize a risk is present or not.

The ZTA approach improves endpoint visibility to protect against the risks associated with remote endpoint devices. Endpoint security measures share security telemetry data each time the device reconnects to the enterprise network. This provides security teams with visibility into vulnerabilities and threats, as well as into missing security patches and missing updates to role-based access, when applicable.

5 Essential Features Of Today’s Leading Zero-Trust Access Frameworks

Once CISOs and other IT executives understand the rationale behind ZTA frameworks, they must understand the ZTA market and the leading features each solution provides.

Consider the following five essential features as you review the leading solutions available today:

1. Automated Discovery & Classification

Network access control discovers and identifies every device on, or seeking access to, the network. The ZTA system automatically scans those devices to ensure they are not compromised, then classifies each device by role and function.

2. Zone-of-Control Assignment

The system automatically assigns users to role-based zones of control where they can be monitored continuously, both on and off network. Network access control microsegments users in mixed environments featuring vendors, partners, contingent workers, and others in addition to employees, supporting robust capabilities even as companies expand the edge.

3. Continuous Monitoring

This feature is founded on the premise that no single user or device can be trusted—even after authentication, a device may be infected or a user’s credentials could have been compromised. ZTA frameworks continuously monitor users and devices, imposing streamlined authentication at every point of access as a result.

4. Secure Remote Access

The ZTA framework provides users with safe but flexible options for VPN connectivity, improving the user experience even as it imposes more robust security features. The framework also ensures internet-based transactions cannot backflow into each VPN connection, which would put the enterprise at risk.

5. Endpoint Access Control

The framework uses proactive visibility, defense, and control to strengthen endpoint security. Discovering, assessing, and continuously monitoring endpoint risk streamlines endpoint risk mitigation, risk exposure, and compliance. The framework supports encrypted connections across unsafe networks and continuously retrieves telemetry data to measure endpoint security statuses as well.

Consider Fortinet ZTA For A Fully Integrated Security Strategy

As an IT leader, your ultimate responsibility is not only to keep your company, resources, and users secure but also to help users innovate, improve the bottom line with new efficiencies, and generally meet the needs of the business. That’s why the experts at WEI recommend Fortinet to IT and security executives who are re-thinking their approach to enterprise security as risks and business requirements evolve.

Fortinet ZTA Framework includes:

  1. Complete and continuous control over who is accessing applications
  2. Complete and continuous control over who AND what is on the network
  3. Integrated ZTA solution for Fortinet Security Fabric that works on-premises and in the cloud over LAN, WAN, and remote tunnels
  4. A complete, integrated solution coming from one vendor

Featuring comprehensive visibility and control across infrastructure, users, and devices, Fortinet ZTA provides security leaders with the capabilities they need to both protect enterprise resources and enable modern workforces—no matter the location of each user or device.

Fortinet is leading the way with zero-trust for the enterprise

Fortinet offers comprehensive and holistic security solutions for the largest enterprise, service provider, and government organizations in the world. From firewalls to cloud security, Fortinet ensures security without compromising performance. Here at WEI we have expertise across all Fortinet solutions and can help you evaluate and determine the best approach to an integrated security strategy that delivers on your desired business outcomes.

Next Steps: Download our eBook highlighting the right mix of security solutions for your enterprise to help protect your business from emerging threats while keeping your users productive and happy. Click below to start reading!

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Tags  cyber security security strategy security solutions enterprise security IT Security IT infrastructure CISO technology partner IT executive topic CIO Fortinet Security Fabric Fortinet network security security data protection business continuity zero-trust ZTNA ZTA endpoint protection

Greg LaBrie

Written by Greg LaBrie

Greg LaBrie has more than 20 years of network architecture and engineering experience designing networks that exceed technical requirements, improve operational proficiency and reduce total costs of ownership. Greg holds a number of technical certifications for HPE, Cisco, Fortinet, and much more.

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