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3 Ways Zero Trust Is a Rising Tide that Lifts All Boats

Zero trust represents a strategic, multipronged opportunity to harden network security infrastructure.

October 29, 2021

5 Min Read
Zero Trust Security
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By Tina Gravel

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Tina Gravel

In a prior post, we evaluated the lucrative Zero Trust opportunity for MSPs and outlined steps that solution providers can take to improve their own security posture and that of their customers. While the need to enable fine-grained secure access to network resources is often a Zero Trust starting point, MSPs that embark on this journey will soon realize that, like the proverbial rising tide that lifts all boats, the benefits extend far beyond security.

Recently, analyst firm Nemertes conducted in-depth interviews with Appgate customers, representing a range of industries, who have adopted Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA) as the first step on their Zero Trust journey. The objective study identified specific use cases and evaluated how these organizations measure the economic value that Appgate SDP, an industry-leading ZTNA solution, delivers today.

The Nemertes study reveals that many start their Zero Trust journey with a use case like securing remote access by replacing failing VPN technology with ZTNA. However, they ultimately discovered, as one customer put it, “we deployed it to solve one problem and discovered that it solves many others.”

What follows are three benefits realized by a cross-section of businesses that have jump-started their Zero Trust journey with ZTNA.

Benefit #1: Zero Trust Expedites Digital Transformation

Digital transformation has become a catchall for many IT modernization priorities—whether it’s a shift to digitize inefficient, paper-bound processes or adoption of digital technologies that streamline the customer experience. And for industries like manufacturing, replacing legacy systems with smart, connected machines is now one of the most powerful catalysts driving digital transformation.

It might seem there would be little overlap between security and a broad strategic initiative like digital transformation. But as businesses ramp up transformation efforts, they quickly realize that an unintended consequence of moving workloads to the cloud or offering mobile access to customers is an increased attack surface area.

Because the principle of least privilege is baked into Zero Trust Network Access, organizations can provide fast and secure access that enable authorized access to applications without introducing unnecessary risk. The companies interviewed in the Nemertes study benchmarked the improvement of their digital transformation efforts at an average of 119%. As a security analyst at a publishing company said, “a software-defined perimeter minimizes our surface of exposure to new partners as they come on board — you don’t have to give the whole network to everyone.”

Benefit #2: Zero Trust Streamlines Remote Access

The pandemic was a forcing function of the highest order for secure remote access as enterprises across the globe scrambled to safely connect a sudden swell of work-from-home (WFH) employees to network resources. One customer interviewed for the Nemertes study reported an average of 14% of WFH employees prior to the pandemic and an average of 80% throughout the pandemic. While most predict a substantial post-pandemic return to the office, respondents said that, in total, more than half (55%) of their employees will continue WFH for the foreseeable future.

For nearly three decades, VPNs have served as a remote access conduit. However, VPNs are increasingly viewed as archaic technology not equipped to meet hybrid workplace and workload complexities. Which is why one of the top Zero Trust use cases is VPN replacement or augmentation with ZTNA to better secure work-from-anywhere workforces that must be able to simply and securely access distributed resources to do their jobs.

The companies surveyed in the Nemertes report also noted that improving remote access was a priority even before the pandemic made it an imperative. These organizations sought a more resilient, automated solution to streamline provisioning and decrease the amount of time IT support teams spent on closing out help desk tickets related to access requests.

Benefit #3: Zero Trust Facilitates Cloud Migration

Gartner’s most recent forecast estimates an 18.4% increase in worldwide spending on public cloud services, totaling almost $305 billion in 2021. As enterprise CIOs look to further embrace cloud services, they must contend with a new set of challenges – from figuring out where data and workloads will reside to how to dynamically establish permissions.

As highlighted in the Nemertes report, a major challenge with many access control solutions is that they are designed to protect on-premises or cloud-based resources, but not both. One major advantage of a software-defined perimeter Zero Trust Network Access solution is that it enables uniform protection, regardless of whether a resource is in the cloud or on-premises — or even if it moves from on-premises to the cloud.

Moving applications and data to the cloud—or multiple clouds—effectively turns all users into remote users but with some stark differences. ZTNA automatically scales with the IPs associated with cloud workloads, resulting in dynamic entitlements across multi-cloud environments without manual intervention.

Said the technology leader at a non-profit customer interviewed by Nemertes, “a software-defined approach provided a solid cloud migration assist in that it made it easy to segment cloud networks and assure access permissions were correct.”

For MSPs, achieving Zero Trust represents a strategic, multi-pronged opportunity to harden their network security infrastructure, as well as their customers. ZTNA also provides a critical point of differentiation for MSPs when marketing their service portfolio. And, as Nemertes has well documented, adopting Zero Trust has the added benefit of building a foundation to successfully pursue other core strategic IT initiatives.

Learn more about Appgate’s new Managed Service Provider Zero Trust Program here. And you can download the complete Nemertes report here.

Tina Gravel is the Senior Vice President of Global Channels and Alliances for Appgate, the secure access company that provides cybersecurity solutions for people, devices and systems based on the principles of Zero Trust security.

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