How Zscaler combined active threat defense and zero trust

Zscaler, which specializes in data security for cloud-based applications, had had quite a year. At its fourth annual Zenith Live event (all-digital format again, as in 2020), the company talked about how the pandemic helped its cloud-based security products go from being considered “nice to have” to “must-have” in protecting the massive number of home-based workers. 

In actuality, the strong momentum for Zscaler started long before the pandemic, because the rise of cloud apps, enterprise embracing SaaS models, mobility and an eroding defensive perimeter mandates a different type of security. In today’s world, traditional on-premises security principles are rendered ineffective. Zscaler’s cloud security model is designed for the cloud and mobility apps, enabling it to be deployed anywhere an organization has resources–including home offices.

An easy way to think about the need for cloud resident security is to consider how the IT environment has changed. Years ago, all of an organization’s data, users and applications were centrally located on the company premises. In this case, it made sense to have a moat around the environment with a single entry point protected by a centralized security infrastructure. The few users that were off the company network could connect via VPN and be protected by the same security.  

Apps, users and data are now highly distributed and dynamic. This requires a security model that is equally dynamic and distributed, which is what Zscaler offers from its cloud. VPNs were fine when they were the exception, but, as any network manager knows, VPNs can expose the network to would-be attackers and can get expensive very fast. This is because of the cumbersome processing overhead required to provision an entire company. This is why the interest in Zscaler has been growing and accelerated during the pandemic.

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