Hi there! As an IT security analyst and cybersecurity geek, I wanted to give you my insider‘s take on the top zero trust network access (ZTNA) solutions that can help secure your business.
With remote work becoming the norm, traditional VPNs just don‘t cut it anymore in protecting your infrastructure and data. Zero trust network access solutions are critical for implementing least-privilege access controls and securing your hybrid environment.
Let me walk you through the key capabilities, pros and cons of leading ZTNA solutions so you can make an informed decision on what‘s best for your unique needs!
What is Zero Trust?
First, a quick ZTNA 101. The zero trust model assumes that your network perimeter is porous. So it authenticates and authorizes every single access request, even from users inside the network.
This allows creating a "microperimeter" around each application and resource. Access is granted on a need-to-know basis after verifying the user‘s identity, context and device security posture.
Compared to VPNs which provide open access once connected, ZTNA minimizes lateral movement and blast radius in case of a breach.
According to recent surveys, the top drivers for adopting ZTNA are:
- Securing access in hybrid and multi-cloud environments (58%)
- Enabling remote access without VPN complexity (55%)
- Reducing the risk of lateral movement across networks (51%)
Clearly, businesses recognize the limitations of legacy network security models. ZTNA adoption saw a meteoric 301% increase from 2020 to 2021 according to Gartner.
Key Benefits of Zero Trust Solutions
Here are some of the top benefits you can expect from switching to a zero trust approach:
Enhanced security – Microsegmentation and least privilege access controls minimize lateral movement across networks in case of a breach. Granular access policies make it hard for attackers to move freely once inside.
Visibility and control – ZTNA solutions provide complete visibility into all access requests and activities through detailed logs and analytics. This allows detecting anomalies and risky access patterns early. Granular access policies based on context provide greater control over access.
Support remote/hybrid work – ZTNA allows securely accessing applications from anywhere without complex VPN setup. This is critical for managing access across cloud, data centers and SaaS apps as remote work grows.
Reduce costs – ZTNA solutions can reduce network segmentation costs by replacing traditional firewalls, ACLs and VPN infrastructure with cloud-delivered access. Simplified access controls also reduce audit and compliance overheads.
Improve user experience – Users can securely access applications fast from any device or location without connectivity issues. Consistent access policies improve experience across cloud and on-prem apps.
According to Okta‘s 2022 Businesses at Work Report, companies that adopted zero trust reported 53% faster detection and 52% less time to containment of security incidents on average. That‘s significant!
Now let‘s explore leading ZTNA solutions that can help you secure critical applications and data. I‘ll highlight their key capabilities, pros and cons.
Nordlayer offers a cloud-delivered ZTNA solution focused on remote access security. It implements zero trust principles using a software-defined perimeter architecture.
- Microsegmentation using encrypted secure web gateways instead of VPNs
- Integrates with providers like Okta and Azure AD for adaptive authentication
- Detailed analytics for network visibility and security monitoring
- Fast setup without changing existing network infrastructure
- Scales across hybrid environments
- Quick and easy setup without hardware or network changes
- Cost-effective ZTNA-as-a-Service
- Integrates well with existing identity and security tools
- Provides full network visibility for security analytics
- Still a relatively young startup compared to other vendors
- Mostly focused just on remote access use cases
Nordlayer makes it pretty straightforward to implement a zero trust network. It‘s a compelling choice if you want simple, fast deployment without ripping and replacing infrastructure.
Perimeter 81 delivers ZTNA along with zero trust application access capabilities.
- Granular application access policies based on user, group, location, etc.
- Encrypted tunnels between applications to isolate access
- Converged platform for consistent policies across cloud and on-prem
- Detailed logs, analytics and visualizations for network visibility
- Automated policy recommendations and lifecycle management
- Unified zero trust platform covering both network and app access
- Flexible licensing models for SMBs to large enterprises
- Detailed analytics dashboard for network forensics
- Automates recommendations and policy management
- Requires some network configuration changes
- Mobile access support needs improvement
Perimeter 81 is a strong choice for larger organizations wanting consistent zero trust controls across heterogeneous infrastructure.
Zscaler Private Access
Zscaler Private Access (ZPA) adopts a unique inside-out approach to zero trust.
What makes it stand out:
- Applications completely invisible to unauthorized users
- Microsegmentation at the application-layer instead of network
- App segmentation policies instead of broader network controls
- Automated policy recommendations using AI/ML
- Minimizes lateral exposure by hiding apps from unauthorized access
- Simplified segmentation based on application identity
- Detailed logs provide application-layer visibility
- Automation simplifies administration overhead
- Doesn‘t provide full-suite of access management capabilities
- Mostly focused on internal application access scenarios
ZPA shifts access controls from the network to individual applications. This innovative approach minimizes lateral exposure across networks.
Cloudflare Access removes traditional network perimeters and uses Cloudflare‘s global network to authenticate users based on identity.
What I like about it:
- Authenticates users globally across all apps, eliminating IP restrictions
- Integrates with popular identity providers like Okta and Azure AD
- Provides network-layer DDoS and threat protection
- Detailed audit trail of all user activities
- Free plan available for small teams
- Requires using Cloudflare for networking/Internet routing
- Mostly limited to web application scenarios
- Less granular than other ZTNA tools
Cloudflare Access is ideal if you want consistent identity-centric access controls across hybrid infrastructure, without major network changes.
Wandera Private Access
Wandera Private Access simplifies zero trust application access, with focus on ease of use.
- Zero trust access set up in minutes without network changes
- Isolates access at application-level with microtunnels
- Provides real-time dashboards for monitoring access
- Blocks risky users and devices based on threat intelligence
What makes it unique:
- Extremely quick and lightweight deployment
- Real-time monitoring gives network visibility
- Scales access controls across different environments
- Leverages mobile threat intelligence for stronger protection
- More limited feature set compared to comprehensive ZTNA tools
- Primarily designed for mobile access use cases
Wandera Private Access lowers barriers if you want to quickly pilot zero trust access controls across cloud, on-prem and SaaS apps.
Okta‘s zero trust framework secures access to cloud, mobile and on-prem applications.
Why businesses rely on it:
- Unified identity system across all users and environments
- Adaptive step-up authentication and contextual policies
- Granular application and API access controls
- Automates provisioning and offboarding
- 7000+ integrations with apps and infrastructure
- Mature platform with comprehensive access management capabilities
- Integrates with existing infrastructure and apps
- Context-aware authorization policies
- Industry-leading identity management and governance
- Complex with a steep learning curve
- Requires commitment to Okta ecosystem
Okta enables gradually transitioning to a zero trust architecture at your own pace. It provides full visibility and control for securing hybrid infrastructure.
CrowdStrike Falcon Identity Protection
CrowdStrike Falcon Identity Protection strengthens identity security across hybrid environments.
Why it stands out:
- Unified visibility and control across all user identities
- Adaptive authentication enhances identity policy enforcement
- Analyzes authentication patterns to identify compromised accounts
- Detailed audit trail for access activities across apps
- API integrations simplify deployment
- Reduces identity-related risks by securing all credentials
- Simplifies compliance with detailed activity trails
- API integrations accelerate deployment
- Low total cost of ownership
- More complex than standalone ZTNA tools
- Mainly focused just on identity management
Falcon Identity Protection reduces risks associated with compromised credentials. It provides unified visibility and control for securing all user identities.
Key Decision Criteria
As you evaluate options, I recommend focusing on these criteria:
Use cases – Remote access, internal apps, customer access etc.
Deployment ease – Infra changes needed, learning curve involved
Capabilities – Identity management, device posture checks, granular policies
Infrastructure support – Cloud, on-prem, legacy systems
Analytics & visibility – Logs, monitoring and analysis features
Ecosystem integration – Identity providers, network and security tools
Licensing – Pricing model, minimum commitments
Prioritize capabilities that maps closely to your unique use cases and environment. I hope this guide gives you a headstart in finding the right zero trust solution for your business! Let me know if you have any other questions.