Friday, December 8, 2023

Distributed ZTNA permits easy and scalable safe distant entry to OT property

Zero belief community entry (ZTNA) is the best various to mobile gateways and VPN options for distant entry.
However in OT environments, ZTNA must be distributed.


Distant entry is vital for operations groups to handle and troubleshoot operational expertise (OT) property with out time-consuming and expensive website visits. In lots of organizations, machine builders, upkeep contractors, or the operations groups themselves have put in their very own options: mobile gateways that no person is aware of about or distant entry software program that IT isn’t controlling.

These backdoors are at odds to the OT safety initiatives undertaken by the IT/CISO groups and create a shadow-IT scenario which makes it troublesome to regulate who’s connecting, what they’re doing, and what they will entry.

Then again, Digital Non-public Networks (VPN) put in by IT groups within the industrial DMZ (iDMZ) have drawbacks of being always-on options with all-or-nothing entry to OT property. This makes it difficult to regulate when somebody connects and what they’ve entry to with out utilizing soar servers to handle periods and sophisticated firewall guidelines that have to be ceaselessly up to date to stop wide-open entry.

Industrial organizations are beginning to deploy Zero Belief Community Entry (ZTNA) options as alternate options to always-on VPNs. ZTNA is a safety service that verifies customers and grants entry solely to particular sources at particular instances primarily based on id and context insurance policies. It begins with a default deny posture and adaptively affords the suitable belief required on the time.

The answer consists of a ZTNA belief dealer, sometimes a cloud service, that mediates connections between distant customers and OT property. The belief dealer communicates with a ZTNA gateway deployed within the industrial community. The gateway establishes an outbound connection to the belief dealer which in flip cross-connects to the distant person, thereby making a communication path to the OT property within the proximity of the gateway.

In subject networks like site visitors management cupboards at roadway intersections, or utility pole-mounted capacitor financial institution management cupboards, putting in devoted ZTNA gateways isn’t an choice as a result of house is a matter. When house is out there, having to take care of devoted ZTNA gateway {hardware} simply to entry a number of OT property places an undesirable burden on clients.

In bigger industrial networks, equivalent to manufacturing crops, the ZTNA gateway is centralized within the iDMZ to keep away from the associated fee and complexity of distributing devoted {hardware} within the OT community. However this centralized structure places the ZTNA gateway too removed from the OT property and suffers the identical downside of the legacy VPN design:

  • In such environments IP addresses are sometimes reused, and plenty of property sit behind NAT boundaries which makes them unreachable to the ZTNA gateway within the iDMZ. The complexity now falls on the tip buyer to reveal these personal IPs to the upper layers of the Purdue mannequin.
  • As well as, as a result of the ZTNA gateway is much from the OT property, stopping lateral motion of distant customers between OT property turns into difficult.

Each these points negate key tenants of ZTNA, particularly useful resource isolation and limiting lateral motion.

With Safe Gear Entry (SEA), Cisco is fixing the challenges of deploying safe distant entry to operational property at scale. It embeds the ZTNA gateway perform into Cisco industrial switches and routers, making safe distant entry capabilities quite simple to deploy at scale. There is no such thing as a level {hardware} answer to supply, set up, and handle. No complicated iDMZ firewall guidelines to configure. Enabling distant entry is only a software program characteristic to activate in your Cisco industrial community tools.

Distributing the ZTNA gateway perform wherever within the community allows you to remotely entry each asset. The Cisco industrial swap or router that gives safe and dependable connectivity to OT property, now additionally gives zero belief distant entry to those property, no matter its IP deal with or your NAT technique. And the identical community tools may implement micro-segmentation insurance policies to stop lateral actions within the case the asset is used as a soar host. Solely Cisco affords such a sophisticated safety functionality in industrial switches and routers in the present day.

Managing numerous ZTNA gateways throughout your operational atmosphere is easy. Cisco Safe Gear Entry comes with a cloud portal that centralizes gateway administration and configuration of distant entry insurance policies. It acts as a ZTNA belief dealer, verifying customers and granting entry solely to particular sources primarily based on identities and contexts.


Distant workers, distributors, and contractors hook up with the Safe Gear Entry cloud portal the place they’re authenticated and provided entry solely to the gadgets you select, utilizing solely the protocols you specify, and solely on the day and time you enable.

Distant entry periods begin with a default deny posture and Safe Gear Entry adaptively affords the suitable belief required on the time. Belongings are hidden from discovery and lateral actions are made not possible. IP addresses are by no means uncovered within the iDMZ, additional decreasing your assault floor.

Operations directors can simply create credentials to satisfy their enterprise wants and grant entry to OT property in two completely different manners:

  1. Clientless ZTNA. Customers simply want an internet browser to entry distant OT property utilizing RDP, VNC, HTTP/S, SSH, or Telnet.
  2. Agent-based ZTNA (which we name SEA Plus). Cisco SEA establishes a safe IP communication channel between the person’s pc and the OT asset so any desktop utility can be utilized for superior duties, equivalent to file switch or PLC programming utilizing native functions for example.

Cisco Safe Gear Entry is designed to implement robust zero belief safety insurance policies and provide superior monitoring and compliance capabilities:

  • Multifactor authentication (MFA) to deal with the danger of stolen credentials.
  • Single sign-on (SSO) to streamline the person expertise and implement strict person insurance policies from a centralized location.
  • Gadget posture verify to evaluate the distant person’s safety posture and solely grant entry to hosts with malware safety software program put in for example.
  • Session monitoring with the flexibility to hitch a session and examine in actual time what a distant person is doing.
  • Session termination providing directors the flexibility to kill an energetic session.
  • Session recording to return in time and watch what distant customers did.

We are going to element these options in upcoming weblog posts over the following few weeks. Be sure to subscribe to our OT Safety e-newsletter to obtain them in your inbox. Within the meantime, be taught extra about Cisco Safe Gear Entry (SEA), and take a look at our Cisco Validated Design Information for help on the best way to implement ZTNA in your operational atmosphere.


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