Netskope named a Leader in the 2022 Gartner® Magic Quadrant™ for Security Service Edge. Get the Report.

  • Security Service Edge Products

    Protect against advanced and cloud-enabled threats and safeguard data across all vectors.

  • Borderless SD-WAN

    Confidently provide secure, high-performance access to every remote user, device, site, and cloud.

  • Platform

    Unrivaled visibility and real-time data and threat protection on the world's largest security private cloud.

Netskope Named a Leader in the 2022 Gartner Magic Quadrant™ for SSE Report

Get the report Go to Products Overview
Netskope gartner mq 2022 sse leader

Gartner® Quick Answer: How Does Netskope’s Acquisition of Infiot Impact SD-WAN, SASE, and SSE Projects?

Get the report
Quick Answer: How Does Netskope’s Acquisition of Infiot Impact SD-WAN, SASE and SSE Projects?

Netskope delivers a modern cloud security stack, with unified capabilities for data and threat protection, plus secure private access.

Explore our platform
Birds eye view metropolitan city

Make the move to market-leading cloud security services with minimal latency and high reliability.

Learn more
Lighted highway through mountainside switchbacks

Prevent threats that often evade other security solutions using a single-pass SSE framework.

Learn more
Lighting storm over metropolitan area

Zero trust solutions for SSE and SASE deployments

Learn more
Boat driving through open sea

Netskope enables a safe, cloud-smart, and fast journey to adopt cloud services, apps, and public cloud infrastructure.

Learn more
Wind turbines along cliffside
  • Our Customers

    Netskope serves more than 2,000 customers worldwide including more than 25 of the Fortune 100

  • Customer Solutions

    We are here for you and with you every step of the way, ensuring your success with Netskope.

  • Training and Certification

    Netskope training will help you become a cloud security expert.

We help our customers to be Ready for Anything

See our Customers
Woman smiling with glasses looking out window

Netskope’s talented and experienced Professional Services team provides a prescriptive approach to your successful implementation.

Learn more
Netskope Professional Services

Secure your digital transformation journey and make the most of your cloud, web, and private applications with Netskope training.

Learn more
Group of young professionals working
  • Resources

    Learn more about how Netskope can help you secure your journey to the cloud.

  • Blog

    Learn how Netskope enables security and networking transformation through security service edge (SSE).

  • Events & Workshops

    Stay ahead of the latest security trends and connect with your peers.

  • Security Defined

    Everything you need to know in our cybersecurity encyclopedia.

Security Visionaries Podcast

Episode 15: Building Permanent Security Awareness

Play the podcast
Black man sitting in conference meeting

Read the latest on how Netskope can enable the Zero Trust and SASE journey through security service edge (SSE) capabilities.

Read the blog
Sunrise and cloudy sky

SASE Week

Netskope is positioned to help you begin your journey and discover where Security, Networking, and Zero Trust fit in the SASE world.

Learn more
SASE Week

What is Security Service Edge?

Explore the security side of SASE, the future of network and protection in the cloud.

Learn more
Four-way roundabout
  • Company

    We help you stay ahead of cloud, data, and network security challenges.

  • Why Netskope

    Cloud transformation and work from anywhere have changed how security needs to work.

  • Leadership

    Our leadership team is fiercely committed to doing everything it takes to make our customers successful.

  • Partners

    We partner with security leaders to help you secure your journey to the cloud.

Netskope enables the future of work.

Find out more
Curvy road through wooded area

Netskope is redefining cloud, data, and network security to help organizations apply Zero Trust principles to protect data.

Learn more
Switchback road atop a cliffside

Thinkers, builders, dreamers, innovators. Together, we deliver cutting-edge cloud security solutions to help our customers protect their data and people.

Meet our team
Group of hikers scaling a snowy mountain

Netskope’s partner-centric go-to-market strategy enables our partners to maximize their growth and profitability while transforming enterprise security.

Learn more
Group of diverse young professionals smiling

Making Sense of Zero Trust Through the Lens of Networking and Infrastructure

Oct 20 2022

“Zero trust” still confuses people—and for good reason. While the term conveys a certain absolute authority (“zero,” “nope,” “nothing”), contemporary approaches offer much more nuanced capabilities. And while zero trust today is typically associated with security initiatives, the concepts have their origin in the definition of network perimeters, who is granted access, and how that access is provided.

The evolution of security hasn’t been from implicit trust to no trust, but rather toward contextual controls that grant the right people the right access to the right resources at the right time for the right reasons. But ultimately, making sense of zero trust requires an understanding of how the role of networking and infrastructure has shifted with respect to the critical objectives of security in recent years.

The changing role of the network: a brief history

In the earliest days of building networks and defining the enterprise perimeter, all companies were essentially islands. They built corporate networks to facilitate interactions between employees and data that was all on-premises. When the internet came along, everyone wanted to get in on that. But businesses realized fairly quickly that the internet’s default implicit trust was going to cause problems when it came to protecting themselves from outsiders with malicious intent. 

The first natural step was to use the network to create demarcation points. Architectures evolved to include something called a DMZ, which has a similar function as physical-world demilitarized zones (such as the 2.5-mile wide strip of land between North Korea and South Korea; the natural isolation of which created an involuntary park now regarded as one of the most well-preserved areas of temperate habitat in the world). This kind of “castle and moat” architecture actually worked for a long time. But then as businesses evolved and required constant connectivity with other businesses, partners, suppliers, and even their own customers in certain circumstances—new patterns were required 

There were many attempts at creating these new patterns over the years. The Jericho Forum promoted de-perimeterization in the early 2000s. A few years later, I wrote about “the death of the DMZ” and delivered some Microsoft TechEd presentations where I advocated to authenticate every person and system, authorize all actions and behaviors, audit every activity and transaction, and encrypt where necessary. (Though today, I would change that last one to encrypt all the time.)

Then zero trust networking came along. This was useful—but it was still thinking more along the lines of gating access to networks. Google’s BeyondCorp initiative proposed “What if people were always on the internet, even if they’re in the office?” They really only get an internet connection; all requests to interact with applications must flow through some kind of a broker. Then Forrester’s Zero Trust eXtended (ZTX) came along. Gartner offered their own early take on the concept, which was called CARTA  (continuous adaptive risk and trust assessment). 

Then the emergence of the software-defined perimeter architecture made the zero trust concept much more relevant. The software-defined perimeter hooked people to applications—regardless of what the underlying network infrastructure was like. This opened up new possibilities. 
As a result, the zero trust network access (ZTNA) market soon emerged. Right now, we’re seeing a lot of emphasis on ZTNA—which came out of COVID, when everyone suddenly had to work from home. While most enterprises initially tried to expand their VPN to cope with this immediate shift, what they found was that their VPN concentrators were brittle. They hadn’t been updated or patched in a while which meant they could be vulnerable. But even if companies could safely expand their VPN concentration capabilities, they were still running up against bandwidth constraints from backhauling traffic to their facilities for security. And it was especially inefficient because most of that traffic needed to hairpin right back out again to software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications or the web.

Letting the network do what it does best

ZTNA transcended the constraints of VPNs. I was wrong in 2019 when I said that ZTNA would replace VPN. I changed my view in 2020 to say ZTNA would augment VPN because there are still legitimate reasons when someone needs a VPN to access the network (such as for network administration or when doing performance analysis). But for the vast majority of cases, you don’t need to be on the network—you just need access to an application. ZTNA gives you that access without any sort of reliance on the underlying network architecture. 

This uncoupling (and unburdening) meant that networkers didn’t need to concern themselves with individual access control policies for applications. The application owner creates policies and defines who’s allowed to interact, as well as the conditions that indicate the level of access (e.g., full, reduced, isolated, none). That responsibility no longer has to be dumped on the networker—who may not be equipped to make those decisions for applications anyway. 

Simultaneously, networkers could now focus more on the things they do really well—such as high availability, ensuring that the network is reliable, and that it performs well at getting bits where they need to go. In addition, the network team can also help application owners ensure more consistent experiences. People interact with applications in exactly the same way, wherever they happen to be—in the office, in a coffee shop, on an airplane, or at home. 

The curious case of IoT discovery

Let’s ponder the Internet of Things (IoT) for a moment. If a company claims to have solved the problem of discovering all their IoT devices, I would argue that’s a claim of ignorance. Most companies possess a limited understanding of the IoT devices in their networks today. Poor visibility is the root—and the roots plunge far.

Beyond finding all those devices, effective visibility requires figuring out what they’re talking to and what is talking back. While this is a very natural thing for networkers to do, finding an IoT device’s owner can be very difficult. IoT devices are like rabbits—they multiply and then they forget their parentage. The traditional way of managing IoT devices (shuttling them onto their own subnet) offers no respite. While an application owner may only have one or two applications in their charge, people who manage IoT devices may have thousands. Once deployed, they often lose track of at least some of them. Who becomes responsible for their stewardship? 

If there were a way for a networker to automatically (re)discover all IoT devices and especially the communication flows between them, then we could assign them into different classifications with corresponding levels of required protection. Networkers could propose if an IoT device is “safe” or “risky” (or maybe even define a spectrum of different control classes between “safe” and “risky”).

One goal: the network is the security

Security teams don’t want to worry about connectivity details and networkers don’t want to worry about security policies. So by teasing these apart and allowing each domain to concentrate on their specialized tasks, each team can help the other succeed without stepping on any toes. 

Security should be helping networkers deliver ubiquity, resilience, and performance. In the worst case scenario, if teams misjudge the access and performance aspects, then the risk of people bypassing security controls looms large. And even in the best case, siloed security is a bottleneck that impedes the business, decreases IT agility, and reduces productivity and responsiveness to customers. ZTNA services facilitate network and security convergence, as do tools like digital experience management (DEM) which make it easier to troubleshoot problems and ensure that their users are kept safe while enjoying a superior experience. DEM reduces the time it takes to diagnose and close a helpdesk ticket, streamlining security and networking operations. 

The ultimate goal is for security to focus on controls, networking to focus on experience—and for everyone across the company to stay safe, happy, and productive.

author image
Steve Riley
Steve Riley is a Field CTO at Netskope. Having worked at the intersection of cloud and security for pretty much as long as that’s been an actual topic, Steve offers that perspective to field and executive engagements and also supports long-term technology strategy and works with key industry influencers. Steve has held technology roles for more than three decades, including stints at Gartner Inc., Riverbed Technology, Amazon Web Services, and Microsoft Corp.