Why Do ZTNA Solutions Fall Short When It Comes to Zero Trust?

ztna shortcomings portnox

ZTNA & Zero Trust

Zero Trust is a security architecture in which every individual, inside or outside the organization’s network, must be authenticated, authorized, and continually validated for data security configuration and posture before accessing or maintaining access to information and resources.  

Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA) is one of the ways of implementing Zero Trust, and it is a secure network access technology architecture that allows network devices or applications to be trusted once they are secured.  

Zero trust solutions are needed to manage the complexities of modern business. However, ZTNA solutions fall short of meeting these requirements. Limitations of ZTNA include the lack of management, monitoring, and policy controls. Implementing ZTNA access does not alter an attacker’s elitism when users are accessing internal applications. 

Here are several reasons why ZTNA solutions fall short when it comes to zero trust. 

ZTNA Shortcomings

Lack of Data Protection & Security Inspection Capabilities

ZTNA lacks the enforcement of data protection policies and lacks the capability to inspect and enforce data protection policies on all devices. When a user connects to an internal application, the organization has no visibility or control over the user’s machine and any possible breaches. Additionally, ZTNA does not allow for granular control over user access and cannot be configured for cloud applications or services outside the firewall perimeter.  

ZTNA Provides Insufficient Security  

When organizations deploy ZTNA, they typically also deploy other technologies and systems, including endpoint protection. Although these are complementary technologies, they use the same infrastructure. Building the network and fully complementing ZTNA policies into the infrastructure can be costly.  

In addition, when constructing a perimeter-centric network, all other security mechanisms may not provide complete security. The network can be vulnerable to security attacks, such as zero-day vulnerabilities that cannot be predicted or impeded by any technology. 

ZTNA Follows Allow & Ignore Model

When organizations deploy ZTNA, they open the door to many access points with an unstructured network traffic flow. ZTNA access solutions are commonly based on the allow and ignore model, where all requests are allowed by default, and specific ones are excluded. Organizations can use this approach to provide the highest level of security, but this model does not provide a uniform set of access policies for all applications and users. 

Weak Security & Limited Visibility

ZTNA solutions are typically based on a standards-based approach that doesn’t consider organizational security needs. ZTNA is often built on an open infrastructure, which may not have the necessary controls to protect sensitive information. Architecture failures in the network may expose critical data, making it vulnerable to data theft. ZTNA solutions also fail to address how network traffic should be protected and protected from intrusions. 

Incomplete Security For Application Services

ZTNA is a network access technology that does not secure all application services, making it less likely to detect and stop data breaches and permission abuse. In addition, organizations can use ZTNA without implementing data security features such as encryption or tokenization. This results from the inability of ZTNA to detect and stop data theft from internal and external applications.  

Failure to Perform Security Checks

ZTNA solutions are designed based on the default model in which organizations and their users can access any application they want, regardless of when they start doing so and what ZTNA policies apply. ZTNA solutions have many features that allow users to access resources and data, and organizations cannot perform security filtering. Many organizations do not deploy perimeter-centric networks, meaning that the perimeter is not secured by traffic inside the network. 

ZTNA Solutions May Not Provide Auditing

ZTNA access solutions are commonly based on a single sign-on model that allows organizations to provide single sign-on to resources. Some organizations may be aware of this and rely on this technology as the only means of access. Organizations need visibility and auditing capabilities, including seeing who has accessed sensitive data or resources. Organizations only have visibility into what is happening outside the organization’s network but may not be aware of threats or intrusions taking place inside it. 

ZTNA Solutions Are Not Designed to Reduce Risks

ZTNA relies on a screen that authenticates users and their technologies, meaning that more than one person may use the same device or technology to access resources. Although single sign-on systems mitigate this type of risk, it may still occur and is not addressed by the end user.  

Lack of an Integrated Management System

A ZTNA access solution can be a complex architecture based on standards and scripts. The complexity of some of these technologies can make it difficult to manage security policies. Organizations need a single, integrated management system to control all networks and avoid conflicting policies. 

Problems With Mobile Access

Many organizations have deployed mobile devices, but deploying and supporting them with more than one vendor is problematic. ZTNA solutions are often based on standards that can limit mobile access and generate additional problems with mobile phones. ZTNA solutions define policies but do not manage the end-user experience. When organizations deploy ZTNA, they must also deploy complementary technologies for any mobile devices that connect to the network. 

ZTNA Solutions Do Not Provide Control for The Data

ZTNA access solutions use a single sign-on model, which means that organizations are unaware of what is happening on their network and what is being sent to external applications. This does not allow organizations to see where sensitive data is being sent and stored or how critical data may be exposed. 

ZTNA access solutions also have a capability known as “trusted paths,” which allow users to connect directly to resources rather than going through an access control mechanism. Organizations do not have control over what data is being sent to external networks, where it’s going, or if it’s secure.   

ZTNA Solutions: Insufficient for Complete Zero Trust

ZTNA has its own inherent risks and cannot prevent data loss or other intrusions, nor can it protect sensitive information wherever it may be stored in the organization.  

In conclusion, ZTNA is a complex and diverse network access technology though it doesn’t provide an integrated, holistic management system for solving many of today’s security problems facing organizations. 

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