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What Is Universal ZTNA (Zero Trust Network Access)?

Understanding ZTNA, featuring Gartner

Universal ZTNA Definition

Universal ZTNA (zero trust network access) refers to the tools, techniques, and policies used to establish zero trust network principles regardless of where users are located—on-premise or remotely—or what kind of network architecture you have. With ZTNA anywhere, you can secure access to your whether employees are in the office, on the road, or at home. As a result, everyone in your organization can benefit from a ZTNA anywhere experience that keeps your network secure without complicating users' connections.

Zero trust refers to technologies and systems that presume every person, application, or network is a threat, and until they prove otherwise, they can’t access your system. For example, if someone connects to a web application, leaves their computer for ten minutes, then comes back, a zero-trust system may require them to verify their legitimacy before allowing them to work with the app again. Also, this can include multi-factor authentication and stringent identity authentication rules to ensure the connecting entity is legitimate.

ZTNA vs Universal ZTNA

ZTNA and universal ZTNA are different in that universal ZTNA enables connections regardless of the location of the network or user. A zero-trust architecture often works differently for different people, depending on where they’re located. And, at times, access to applications or networks may work from one location but fail from another. With universal ZTNA, users can work from anywhere (WFA), and admins can apply zero-trust principles without having to worry about connection complications.

How Does Universal ZTNA Provide Consistent Security Regardless of Location?

ZTNA and universal ZTNA are different in that universal ZTNA enables connections regardless of the location of the network or user. A zero-trust architecture often works differently for different people, depending on where they’re located. And, at times, access to applications or networks may work from one location but fail from another. With universal ZTNA, users can work from anywhere (WFA), and admins can apply zero-trust principles without having to worry about connection complications.

Why Enterprises Should Invest in Universal ZTNA?

Enterprises should invest in this technology because it gives them ZTNA everywhere, which makes it easy for security teams to enable access to employees. At the same time, employees benefit from a consistent access procedure. 

This is an essential element of any digital transformation initiative, particularly those designed to accommodate remote and hybrid workers. Here are some of the most compelling benefits:

  1. Security teams don’t have to worry about attackers taking advantage of less stringent access policies by changing where they try to hack the system from.
  2. Employees don’t have to wrestle with different login procedures depending on where they are.
  3. It’s far easier to onboard new employees, especially hybrid workers, because they have a consistent connection experience every time.

 

What is ZTNA?

ZTNA is a capability within Zero Trust Access (ZTA) that controls access to applications. It extends the principles of ZTA to verify users and devices before every application session. ZTNA confirms that they meet the organization’s policy to access that application.

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The 5 Most Important Benefits of Universal ZTNA

Implementing universal ZTNA comes with a range of benefits, from improved security to reduced costs.

1. A Reliable, Consistent User Experience for all Workers

Even though a cloud-based ZTNA system can do a good job of protecting some assets from many attackers, it may leave some of the most business-critical systems vulnerable to assaults. But with a universal ZTNA solution, employees—and hackers—experience the same rigid security protocols no matter where they are connecting from.

2. A Simple Transition from a VPN to a Universal ZTNA System

With the right ZTNA solution, it’s easy to switch from a VPN access system to a universal zero trust network access setup. This is particularly true if you have both your VPN and universal ZTNA system managed by the same provider. Because your security is integrated, you don’t have to worry about different systems for those connecting via VPN or on-premise.

3. You Can Integrate ZTNA with a SD-WAN Solution

If you have the right type of universal ZTNA solution, you can integrate it with your SD-WAN as well, giving you a more secure network without having to sacrifice optimization. This way, user access procedures will be the same across your network, and the procedures won’t change if your SD-WAN has to adjust bandwidth usage, workloads, or access to web applications.

4. Reduced Costs

If you have a ZTNA solution for one environment and another for a different ecosystem, you may have to simultaneously pay fees for both. By having a universal ZTNA solution, you only have to pay for one system to protect all of your network assets. You may also pay less money—and invest in fewer human resources—when it comes to the maintenance of your ZTNA and upgrades to the system.

5. Consistent Policies Improve Compliance

Organizations that have to adhere to strict compliance regulations can use a universal ZTNA to simplify their operations and ensure that all network assets are adequately protected.

For example, if an organization had its security system audited, it would be significantly easier to meet requirements with a ZTNA solution protecting the entire ecosystem. But if the company had multiple access control systems, some might be sufficient while others could fall short of regulatory standards.

A universal ZTNA solution protects everything by the same measures, thereby streamlining the process of auditing and monitoring your access control system for compliance.

Universal ZTNA to Implement Zero Trust Principles

Without universal ZTNA, it may be infeasible to enact zero trust principles across your entire network, particularly if your system involves a combination of private and public clouds and SaaS solutions. On the other hand, universal ZTNA lets users connect safely no matter where they are.

Regardless of the layout of your network and its assets, you need a solution that’s integrated across your entire environment. Otherwise, you would have to sacrifice security to enable connectivity, or connectivity to support security.

For example, suppose an organization has an on-premise data center that hosts a business-critical application. When users are in the office, they have to connect using a system based on zero-trust principles. Perhaps they have to re-login after five minutes of inactivity and provide at least two forms of identification.

But when remote workers connect to the system, they simply log in to a virtual private network (VPN) using a name and password. Despite the efforts and investment put towards establishing zero trust principles at the office, the company’s network is vulnerable through its VPN connection because a hacker would only have to steal someone’s username and password to gain access.

But with universal ZTNA, users would have to go through the same steps, regardless of where they would be connecting from—on-campus or remotely.

How Fortinet Can Help

The Fortinet Universal ZTNA gives you the ability to provide secure access no matter where your employees are located. In this way, remote and hybrid workers can experience the same connection experience as those on campus.

Fortinet’s Universal ZTNA also integrates with the rest of the Fortinet Security Fabric because it is automatically put in force on devices that run FortiOS 7.0 or higher. This means your hardware and cloud-based virtual machines all have the same, consistent protection.

If you already have a FortiGate next-generation firewall (NGFW) protecting your network, you only need the FortiClient ZTNA to incorporate zero trust principles across your network. This includes NGFWs that protect physical, on-premise networks and those that safeguard cloud environments.

FAQs

What is universal ZTNA?

Universal ZTNA (zero trust network access) refers to the tools, techniques, and policies used to establish zero trust network principles no matter where users are located—on-premise or remotely—and what kind of network architecture you have. In other words, with zero-trust ZTNA, no matter how your network is set you and where your applications live, you can secure access to them whether employees are in the office, on the road, or at home.

What are the benefits of universal ZTNA?

With a universal ZTNA:

  • Security teams don’t have to worry about attackers taking advantage of less stringent access policies by changing where they try to hack the system from.
  • Employees don’t have to wrestle with different login procedures depending on where they are.
  • It’s far easier to onboard new employees (especially hybrid workers)  because they have a consistent connection experience every time.

Why do enterprises need universal ZTNA?

Enterprises need universal ZTNA because it enables safe network connections for both on-premise and remote employees while providing everyone with a consistent authentication experience. Also, with universal ZTNA, you eliminate security vulnerabilities that often result from using different authentication tools.