Business & Technology

Taking the First Step Toward Zero Trust with Fortinet Identity and Access Management

By Eric Schwake | January 11, 2023

As more organizations move to hybrid work arrangements, a user’s identity is a more valuable commodity than ever before. Attackers are constantly looking for ways to compromise or exploit a user’s identity to carry out attacks against organizations of all sizes. Once a threat actor has gained access to a user’s identity, they often have complete access to the network and the resources tied to that user identity.

Securing identity has never been more important. According to the recent Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report, 82% of attacks relied on the human element, often the user identity itself. Across industries, identity-based attacks are on the rise, and it falls on the often overworked IT and security teams to close security gaps.

To mitigate identity-related risks, organizations need to proactively work to secure user identities. Zero-trust concepts are something that the security industry has been talking about for many years, but organizations still are unsure about how to implement zero trust in their organizations. In many cases, the first step toward zero trust is identity.

It’s more difficult for organizations to provide tight security controls for their user identities because of changes such as working from anywhere and the increasing need to access resources in multiple locations such as private clouds, public clouds, and on-premises. Fortinet offers a number of Identity and Access Management (IAM) solutions to help organizations secure identity.

Securing user identity is one of the core elements of the zero-trust principle of “never trust, always verify,” but there needs to be a defined and strategic approach internally as far as how zero trust is rolled out. Every user’s identity must be verified and each user should only be given only the least-privileged access based on what is known about their identity. It’s also important to consider how implementing these controls will affect users to make sure it won’t negatively impact their experience and productivity.

Streamline the Move to IAM

Fortinet can help simplify the move to IAM with a full complement of IAM solutions that are integrated with the Fortinet Security Fabric. Fortinet authentication tools make sure users are who they say they are. Organizations can use FortiAuthenticator to manage all of their user identity authentication and authorization needs and easily deploy SSO for all users. FortiAuthenticator is integrated with multi-factor authentication (MFA) tools, which are used to secure access by forcing a user to enter a second way of authentication besides a username and password. By ensuring only authorized users have access, MFA adds another layer of security, providing enhanced protection against potential breaches.

FortiToken is used for MFA management and can manage mobile tokens on iOS or Android in addition to physical tokens such as our passwordless FIDO2-compatible token security key. And for those organizations that want to deploy IAM in the cloud, Fortinet offers FortiTrust Identity. This solution delivers all of the FortiAuthenticator and FortiToken features as a cloud-delivered subscription-based service. FortiTrust Identity seamlessly integrates with FortiGate Next-Generation Firewalls (NGFWs) and FortiSASE to provide a full range of cloud-delivered security solutions.

Fortinet Integrated ZTNA and IAM Solutions

Zero-trust network access (ZTNA) is the next logical step for those organizations that want to improve security around application access. When moving to ZTNA, it’s critical to make sure that the users accessing sensitive resources have been fully authenticated with MFA before access is granted. Because the Fortinet ZTNA and IAM solutions are tightly integrated, it helps simplify the move to zero trust. Using the Fortinet ZTNA application gateway as the ZTNA enforcement point and FortiClient as the ZTNA device agent makes it possible to take a Universal ZTNA approach for secure connections. Anything running on the FortiOS operating system, such as a FortiGate, can act as the enforcement point.

With Universal ZTNA, organizations can provide seamless access to resources regardless of where they are located. They can apply zero-trust principles without having to worry about connection issues related to the user’s location because it enables connections regardless of the location of the network or the user. Fortinet ZTNA capabilities ensure that users are provided granular application access that is consistent, no matter where they may be connecting.

FortiClient Simplifies the Transition from VPN to ZTNA

FortiClient enables the seamless deployment, operation, and architecture of ZTNA, but it also can help organizations move to ZTNA more easily because it’s both a VPN and a ZTNA agent. The Fortinet ZTNA architecture mirrors the VPN infrastructure, which is important for those companies that are using ZTNA to improve remote access. In many cases, they are shifting from using a VPN network to a ZTNA network.

Having both VPN and ZTNA in a single agent helps reduce complexity for IT teams because they only need to deal with a single agent, not two separate solutions. FortiClient makes it possible to transition to ZTNA in a controlled, careful way because organizations can move application coverage over to ZTNA gradually, one application at a time, while still using VPN for their remaining access requirements.

To ensure the security of their environment, organizations need to make identity the first step of their zero-trust journey. Although it may take time to move to IAM and adopt zero-trust principles, the robust solutions from Fortinet can make the transition easier. 

To learn more, visit our IAM page.