Organizations need networks with the flexibility to quickly respond to new business needs and new technologies. Yet, responding to these changing needs can result in more complex network environments. Precisely what you don’t want when users’ expectations include moving easily between on-premises locations, interconnected branch locations, home offices, and remote locations.
While digital acceleration can make new hybrid work models a reality, it can also dramatically expand the attack surface, exposing organizations to new cyber threats. Channel partners can help organizations manage digital acceleration by guiding them toward strategic investments that will future-proof their networks, help prepare them for new technology deployments, and secure them against potential security risks.
A zero-trust stance makes it easier to manage new technologies and work models in a dynamic, multi-edge edge environment – without compromising the security of users, data, or devices.
But, as organizations embark on their zero trust journey, taking a platform approach and choosing solutions that are integrated by design will be much easier to deploy, configure, and maintain.
Where channel partners can help
A trusted partner can help organizations adopt the zero-trust security model, starting with defining who needs access to what information and applications. Starting from the position that every user or device is a potential threat, the network can authorize, monitor, and allow access to only those resources required by a job role or function.
Unfortunately, most traditional network architectures aren’t built to accommodate the dynamic control needed for zero trust. Instead, disparate and statically deployed point products that rely on implicit access damage the user experience and leave organizations vulnerable to cybersecurity threats. Not to mention stressing security resources trying to manage the array of products and vendors across remote sites, corporate facilities, and multi-cloud deployments.
Recent high-profile disruptions and breaches in Canada or other countries illustrate the challenges of operating multiple products and vendors as an integrated solution. While shifting to a zero-trust stance might seem like a significant leap for customers, the approach can help organizations keep pace with developments in technology and threats.
Where to start
The zero-trust model requires organizations to introduce least-privilege access by restricting user access to the necessary resources for their particular role. Users and devices are identified and monitored throughout their sessions, with control of networked devices handled centrally. Among the solutions required for zero trust security are network access control, remote access, endpoint telemetry, identity management, and authentication.
Network Access Control allows security teams to maintain visibility and access control of network devices. Channel partners can help organizations by pointing them toward a network access control solution that can support agentless data collection for better network visibility. Every device on or attempting to access the network must be identified, scanned for threats, and classified by role and function. Integrating network access control with next-generation firewalls can enable segmentation based on business objectives and roles.
Endpoint Telemetry and Remote Access can extend zero trust access control to applications on and off the network. Channel partners can help organizations find an endpoint client that provides device visibility, ensures compliance, and shares telemetry such as the device’s operating system and applications, known vulnerabilities, patches, and security status. For zero-trust network access (ZTNA), the client agent provides the device posture check and the user identification as part of the verification process and creates the encrypted tunnel from the device to the proxy point.
Identity Management is the basis of organizational authentication, authorization, and accountability with access management, single sign-on, and guest management services. The solution should authenticate each user through logins, certificates, and multi-factor inputs, which are verified against role-based access control services to ensure the right user gets access only to the appropriate applications, data, and services. Multi-factor Authentication (MFA) takes this a step further by using tokens, one-time passwords, biometrics, or other ways of identifying a user or device.
Finding the right solution
The best way to implement a zero-trust approach is to move away from traditional multi-vendor solutions, which introduce complexity and reduce network visibility. For zero-trust at scale, organizations will need an integrated and automated platform to manage access and identify and mitigate threats to the network.
Through the power of an integrated platform, channel partners can help organizations move toward a convergence of network infrastructure and security. IT teams can more easily secure the network and respond to today’s multi-edge environments with solutions that use zero-trust principles to extend granular access control and enterprise-grade security to every user, regardless of location. With this converged approach, organizations can improve user experiences, combat device glut, increase network visibility and control, and support hybrid work models while making the network secure, resilient, and ready for where digital acceleration will take it next.
Sean Campbell is Director of Canadian Channels at Fortinet