Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Endpoint Security //


// // //
08:05 AM
Patrick Foxhoven
Patrick Foxhoven
News Analysis-Security Now

Why You Should Never Add Another User to Your Network

Old-fashioned rules about who gets access to the network no longer apply in the era of cloud computing. Instead, security pros need to match specific users to specific applications. Here's why.

Think about the way you provide access to your network.

You use methods such as VPNs and other application access solutions to open the door to employees and partners -- and because these technologies aren't fundamentally user and application aware once they're in, they can go anywhere they want.

Now think about what a ludicrous idea this is in terms of security.

The 2014 Target breach happened because attackers stole remote credentials from a third-party vendor. Remote logins were the same entry point for hackers attacking Home Depot and JPMorgan Chase. The very tools that were designed to make us safe are often the entry point for the most insidious threats.

(Source: Pixabay)
(Source: Pixabay)

In addition, the traditional concept of establishing security policies based on source IP addresses is fundamentally flawed. IP addresses have dictated who gets to enter networks and where they can go -- however IP addresses are the most transient identifiers in your network. They change all the time, as users roam around buildings, DHCP leases renew, they change ISP networks, when they dock devices and of course when they log in from home.

Using IP addresses to manage security is particularly unworkable in the cloud era: IP addresses only ever made sense in controlled very static environments, not the transient environment of the cloud and the modern Internet.

The answer to the problem of freely granting network access and tying policy to ever-changing IP addresses: Stop extending your network to your users who need access to applications that reside on it. Ever. By doing so, you'll make your network safer while making it easier for people to access the applications they need.

Instead of adding users to networks where they get to move around freely, we need to match specific users to specific applications they need. In the past, traditional VPN technology wasn't good at helping us make these connections: It was designed to be network-centric, not focused on users or applications.

We created networks and layered security on top of them, with policies often as an afterthought.

The better way is to strongly authenticate users, and allow users and their devices to work from whatever location or network that they happen to be connecting from. Having a strong sense of trust and authentication is vital when making application access ubiquitous across any network.

For example we can profile devices by confirming they are company owned -- or not -- confirm devices' security postures are up to date and check for hardware security tokens -- all of which should figure into an assessment of the user's ability to access applications.

By authenticating users and generating certificates for devices, we trust that users are who they claim to be. Again, security based on IP addresses doesn't give you anywhere near this level of detail about who's on your network, and what they're doing there.

When users connect to applications -- not networks -- the "zero trust" approach can be applied. A truly secure network will never have any users on it; people who need to access applications are proxied through the network in a very surgical way. Without users, attackers are less likely to be able to move laterally through the network, since the zero-trust approach closes gaps in security.

When you take the network out of the equation, the user experience improves significantly.

Since the network doesn't matter, users access applications the way they would normally without the added hassle of VPNs and other access solutions. By ending the practice of putting users on your network, users will actually get to the applications they need faster and easier, while potential attackers will have one less entry point to exploit.

Related posts:

— Patrick Foxhoven is CIO and VP of Emerging Technologies at Zscaler.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Threaded  |  Newest First  |  Oldest First
I Smell a RAT! New Cybersecurity Threats for the Crypto Industry
David Trepp, Partner, IT Assurance with accounting and advisory firm BPM LLP,  7/9/2021
Attacks on Kaseya Servers Led to Ransomware in Less Than 2 Hours
Robert Lemos, Contributing Writer,  7/7/2021
It's in the Game (but It Shouldn't Be)
Tal Memran, Cybersecurity Expert, CYE,  7/9/2021
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
Developing and Testing an Effective Breach Response Plan
Whether or not a data breach is a disaster for the organization depends on the security team's response and that is based on how the team developed a breach response plan beforehand and if it was thoroughly tested. Inside this report, experts share how to: -understand the technical environment, -determine what types of incidents would trigger the plan, -know which stakeholders need to be notified and how to do so, -develop steps to contain the breach, collect evidence, and initiate recovery.
Flash Poll
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
PUBLISHED: 2022-12-02
** UNSUPPORTED WHEN ASSIGNED ** Apache Tapestry 3.x allows deserialization of untrusted data, leading to remote code execution. This issue is similar to but distinct from CVE-2020-17531, which applies the the (also unsupported) 4.x version line. NOTE: This vulnerability only affects Apache Tapestry ...
PUBLISHED: 2022-12-02
Incorrect privilege assignment issue in M-Files Web in M-Files Web versions before 22.5.11436.1 could have changed permissions accidentally.
PUBLISHED: 2022-12-02
Algan Yazılım Prens Student Information System product has an unauthenticated SQL Injection vulnerability.
PUBLISHED: 2022-12-02
Algan Yaz?l?m Prens Student Information System product has an authenticated Insecure Direct Object Reference (IDOR) vulnerability.
PUBLISHED: 2022-12-02
An access control issue in D-Link DVG-G5402SP GE_1.03 allows unauthenticated attackers to escalate privileges via arbitrarily editing VoIP SIB profiles.