What is Zscaler?

What is Zscaler?

Zscaler, Inc. is a cloud security company specializing in providing cybersecurity solutions to enterprise customers.

The company's key products include:

  • Zscaler Internet Access (ZIA): This solution provides secure access to externally managed applications, such as SaaS applications and internet destinations. It ensures safe internet browsing by protecting users from cyber threats and preventing data loss.
  • Zscaler Private Access (ZPA): This service offers secure, zero-trust access to internally managed applications hosted in data centers or on public and private clouds. It eliminates the need for traditional VPNs, providing more secure and flexible access to applications.
  • Zscaler Digital Experience (ZDX): This tool measures the end-to-end digital experience of users across business applications, offering insights to optimize user experience and productivity.
  • Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM): Part of their Posture Control solutions, CSPM helps identify and remediate misconfigurations in cloud infrastructure, ensuring compliance and reducing security risks.

Zscaler's approach is rooted in the zero-trust security model, which means that no user or device is trusted by default, regardless of whether they are inside or outside the network. This model helps in reducing the risk of internal and external threats by ensuring that only authenticated and authorized users can access specific applications and data.

What are the disadvantages of Zscaler?

While Zscaler offers a robust set of cloud security services, there are some potential disadvantages or challenges that organizations may encounter when implementing or using the platform:

  • Dependency on Internet Connection: Since Zscaler is a cloud-based security platform, organizations rely on stable internet connectivity to access and use its services. If there are issues with internet connectivity or disruptions in service, it may impact the organization's ability to enforce security policies and protect against threats.
  • Latency Concerns: Because Zscaler routes traffic through its global network of data centers for inspection and filtering, there may be some latency introduced, particularly for organizations with geographically distributed users. This latency could affect user experience, especially for bandwidth-intensive applications or real-time communication tools.
  • Cost Considerations: Zscaler's subscription-based pricing model may result in ongoing costs for organizations, which could potentially be higher than traditional on-premises security solutions. Organizations should carefully evaluate the pricing structure and consider factors such as the number of users, bandwidth requirements, and desired feature set to determine the total cost of ownership.
  • Limited Customization: While Zscaler offers a range of security features and configurations, some organizations may find that the platform's level of customization is limited compared to on-premises security solutions. Organizations with highly specialized security requirements or unique network environments may face challenges in adapting Zscaler to meet their specific needs.
  • Regulatory Compliance: Organizations operating in regulated industries or jurisdictions may face compliance challenges when using Zscaler, particularly if there are data residency or sovereignty requirements that restrict the processing or storage of data in certain locations. Organizations should ensure that Zscaler's services comply with relevant regulatory standards and requirements.
  • Vendor Lock-in: Adopting Zscaler's cloud security platform may lead to vendor lock-in, as organizations become dependent on Zscaler's services and infrastructure for their security needs. Switching to alternative solutions or migrating away from Zscaler could be complex and costly, particularly if there is a significant investment in integrating Zscaler into existing IT environments.

Overall, while Zscaler offers many benefits in terms of cloud security and scalability, organizations should carefully evaluate these potential disadvantages and consider their specific requirements and constraints before implementing the platform.

What is Zscaler implementation like?

Implementing Zscaler can be a daunting task for organizations, with several challenges and complexities that can arise throughout the process:

  • Complex Configuration: Configuring Zscaler to align with the organization's security policies and requirements can be complex and time-consuming. Organizations may struggle with understanding and configuring the myriad of settings, policies, and rules within the platform, leading to delays and misconfigurations that could compromise security.
  • Integration Issues: Integrating Zscaler with existing IT infrastructure, applications, and security systems can be challenging. Organizations may encounter compatibility issues with legacy systems, custom applications, or specialized hardware, requiring extensive troubleshooting and custom development to ensure seamless integration.
  • User Resistance: Users within the organization may resist the implementation of Zscaler, especially if it introduces changes to their workflows or imposes additional security measures. Resistance from users can hinder adoption and lead to productivity losses as users struggle to adapt to the new security policies and controls enforced by Zscaler.
  • Performance Degradation: Implementing Zscaler can introduce performance degradation, particularly for bandwidth-intensive applications or users located in geographically distant regions. Organizations may experience latency issues, slow network speeds, or degraded application performance, impacting user experience and productivity.
  • Training and Support Requirements: Training users and IT staff on how to effectively use and manage Zscaler can be a significant challenge. Organizations may need to invest time and resources in providing comprehensive training programs and ongoing support to ensure that users understand how to use Zscaler securely and efficiently.
  • Cost Overruns: Implementing Zscaler can lead to cost overruns, with organizations potentially underestimating the total cost of ownership due to factors such as bandwidth consumption, additional feature requirements, and consulting services needed for deployment and customization. Organizations may find themselves facing unexpected expenses as they scale up their usage of Zscaler over time.

Overall, the implementation of Zscaler can be a complex and challenging endeavor for organizations, requiring careful planning, coordination, and resource allocation to overcome the various obstacles and pitfalls that may arise.

Why would you need Zscaler and a NAC (network access control software)?

While Zscaler offers cloud-based security services, including web security and secure access, Network Access Control (NAC) software complements Zscaler by providing additional layers of security and access control within the organization's network infrastructure. Here's why you might need both:

  • Comprehensive Security Posture: Zscaler focuses on securing internet traffic and enforcing policies for users accessing resources outside the corporate network. However, NAC software enhances security by enforcing access controls and security policies within the internal network. By combining Zscaler's cloud security with NAC's network-based controls, organizations can establish a comprehensive security posture that protects against both external and internal threats.
  • Granular Access Control: NAC software offers granular control over who can access the network and what resources they can access. It evaluates the security posture of devices and users before granting network access, ensuring that only authorized and compliant devices are allowed onto the network. This granular access control complements Zscaler's role-based access controls for internet-bound traffic, providing a layered defense against unauthorized access and insider threats.
  • Endpoint Compliance: NAC software verifies the security posture of endpoints, including their patch levels, antivirus status, and adherence to security policies, before granting network access. This helps organizations enforce security standards and compliance requirements, reducing the risk of malware infections, data breaches, and other security incidents. By integrating NAC with Zscaler, organizations can ensure that only compliant devices can access the internet securely via Zscaler's cloud security platform.
  • Visibility and Threat Detection: NAC software provides visibility into network activity and identifies potential security threats, anomalies, and unauthorized devices on the network. It can detect and respond to suspicious behavior, such as unauthorized access attempts or malware infections, helping organizations mitigate security risks in real-time. By correlating network activity with threat intelligence data, NAC enhances Zscaler's threat detection capabilities and helps organizations identify and respond to security incidents more effectively.
  • Integration and Orchestration: Integrating Zscaler with NAC software enables organizations to orchestrate security policies and enforcement actions across the entire network infrastructure. For example, if NAC detects a non-compliant device attempting to access the network, it can dynamically update Zscaler's access policies to block or restrict internet access for that device, preventing it from posing a security risk. This integration enhances security automation and ensures consistent enforcement of security policies across the organization's network and cloud environments.

In summary, while Zscaler provides cloud-based security services for internet-bound traffic, Network Access Control (NAC) software enhances security within the organization's network infrastructure by providing granular access control, endpoint compliance checks, threat detection, and integration with Zscaler's cloud security platform. By combining Zscaler and NAC, organizations can establish a comprehensive security posture that protects against external and internal threats while ensuring compliance and visibility across the network.