ZTNA vs SASE: What's the Difference?

Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA) and Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) are network access security models built on centralized visibility. What’s the difference? And which one should organizations use to help seal security gaps in their cloud implementations? 

ZTNA is a cybersecurity model that assumes any entity trying to connect to a network is doing so with malicious intent. Instead of relying on user permissions to control network access, ZTNA requires users to validate their identities continuously and follows the principle of least privilege access. 

For example, if a user with special permissions logs in under other security models, they will have the ability to access and move through data. ZTNA ensures that entities are authenticated via strict access controls along with behavioral and contextual markers. 

Since more than 50% of business computing devices are mobile endpoints, network security has become much more complicated. Organizations are switching to a SASE framework to build robust security environments that can prevent cyberattacks from many different entry points and attack vectors. 

SASE is a framework that involves numerous security practices and tools to close security gaps in the cloud. Where traditional network security implementations rely on data centers and endpoints to maintain a secure perimeter, SASE takes security to the edge. This is especially important as more companies work with cloud technologies, remote workers, and software-defined perimeters. 

What Is the Difference between ZTNA and SASE?

SASE and ZTNA are both crucial to building a secure cloud environment. SASE is a newer approach to cybersecurity that relies on modern trust policies like ZTNA and a layered security strategy expanding to all users and endpoints across a network.

SASE utilizes many tools to build a secure network. The main components of SASE include SD-WAN, CASB, Firewalls, SWG, and ZTNA. Without ZTNA, SASE wouldn’t be possible. If SASE is the law of the land, ZTNA is the enforcement officer that ensures the perimeter is protected at the user level. 

Rather than a security framework built from several tools combined, ZTNA is a security model that represents a new way of thinking about network access. It takes user permissions out of the equation and focuses on dynamic access policies based on necessity. Some essential features under ZTNA include continuous validation of access privileges, Identity and Access Management (IAM), and Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA).

What’s Better: ZTNA or SASE?

The question isn’t whether SASE is better than ZTNA or vice versa; it’s about how they work together to secure a network perimeter. The most significant cyber threats almost always involve access and authentication. Both ZTNA and SASE acknowledge that organizations are the most vulnerable at the user level.

When organizations implement ZTNA as a part of a broader SASE plan, they can eliminate risks associated with compromised credentials like insider threats, data exfiltration, and even malicious code injections. 

The bottom line: SASE and ZTNA are both critical aspects of network security for modern organizations. 

Between the growing complexity of supply chains, the proliferation of IoT devices, and the increased focus on remote work, the network security challenges faced by modern businesses seem almost insurmountable. Administrators need a way to support distributed work, yet they also cannot afford to put critical assets at risk. Complex and resource-heavy VPNs are ill-suited for this task.

CylanceGATEWAY is a cloud-native ZTNA solution designed to support scalable, outbound-only access to business-critical applications and services. Its multi-tenant architecture is designed with digital transformation and distributed work in mind, while its powerful artificial intelligence simultaneously augments your business’s security posture and simplifies the configuration and management of granular, dynamic policies and access controls.