4 Trends Shaping the Future of Access Control

May 17, 2024

Access control is no longer an afterthought of the development process – it's the cornerstone of a secure environment. The rise of remote work has fundamentally changed how we access data and resources. Organizations now face the challenge of securing access for a distributed workforce while also fending off increasingly sophisticated cyberattacks. Weak access controls leave businesses vulnerable to data breaches and unauthorized access.

The modern threat landscape has changed while companies have yet to adapt. If you’re curious what other companies are doing, here are four of the latest trends for organizations to explore to ensure secure and efficient access for their users.

Several key trends are shaping the evolution of securing remote access:

  • De-perimeterization: While not as drastic as removing all network perimeters and boundaries, companies are starting to shift away from relying on their perimeter for access control. The network-centric model has adapted poorly for a cloud-based heterogenous environment where the perimeter is a nebulous concept.

  • Hybridization of environments: Companies are increasingly cutting their cloud costs, adopting a hybrid infrastructure to buffer their use of the cloud with on-prem hardware and deployments. Organizations in regulated industries such as healthcare and finance are also wary of storing sensitive information on the cloud where it sits on servers they don’t have full control over.

  • Single Sign-On (SSO) for everything: SSO simplifies managing and provisioning access at scale. It’s become a necessary part of secure access management for most companies to the point where SaaS vendors are charging an SSO tax just because they can. Companies are successful using Pomerium for adding SSO to legacy applications without built-in SSO support.

  • Zero-Trust Security: Answering de-perimeterisation, a Zero-Trust security model operates on the principle of "never trust, always verify." Zero-trust assumes that no user or device is inherently trustworthy and requires continuous verification throughout a session. Be careful; many vendors are scrambling to market their products as zero-trust when they only accomplish certain aspects of zero-trust.

The trends fall under pursuit of certain benefits:

  • Improved Observability: 62% of security teams operate with limited visibility across their environment. Organizations are seeking better audit logs and visibility into their internal systems.

  • Enhanced User Experience for Operational Efficiency: 65% of remote users said they would leave their job if their company’s rules around remote work changed. Organizations are adapting to this by implementing streamlined access control for employee retention while building their talent pools across the globe with a distributed workforce.

  • Reduced Costs: Eliminating the need for expensive on-premise hardware and streamlining operations can lead to significant cost savings. Simply allowing employees to use their own devices can save on resources necessary for providing and managing those devices. However, it appears 50% of organizations don’t yet have the access control infrastructure in place for remote work, and so they’re pursuing better infrastructure for remote workers.

What about SASE and ZTNA?

These are two trending keywords making the waves:

  • Secure Access Service Edge (SASE)

  • Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA)

SASE is a superset of ZTNA, often bundling ZTNA into its offered package. While both lean heavily on zero-trust as a marketing term, they often fail to be zero-trust because:

  • They utilize repackaged tunneling solutions (why avoid layer 4 tools?)

  • They rely on the network-centric model, reintroducing the Perimeter Problem

  • They are hosted third-party solutions expanding your data boundary, putting you at risk of their breaches and cybersecurity culture

  • They either cannot accomplish continuous verification or it is dangerous for them to do so

We’ve written heavily on how SASE has been co-opted by vendors to replace your VPN with their repackaged VPN. While the underlying concepts behind SASE are real and provide tangible value, almost all of the products on the market cannot be taken at face value. We recommend reading our SASE Buyer’s Guide to understand what you should be looking for.

Zero-trust: real or just marketing?

You’ve probably heard it from multiple vendors to the point of feeling that it’s a buzzword. But zero-trust does have actual meaning with technical underpinnings.

The basic points of zero-trust are:

  • Users aren’t inherently trustworthy because of their location

  • You should continuously verify each action

We have an entertaining Children’s Introduction Guide to Zero Trust for those that would like to learn about zero-trust with their morning cup of coffee. For those who prefer to read a more technical overview, zero-trust architecture has multiple publications from neutral and authoritative sources such as:

Elevate your remote access control with Pomerium

Companies are evolving their access control with Pomerium Zero, adapting Pomerium’s flexible reverse proxy into their infrastructure to benefit from limiting lateral movement and maximizing operational efficiency. Whether you’re spinning up a new application or trying to add access control to a legacy service, Pomerium builds secure, clientless connections to internal web apps and services without a corporate VPN. The result is:

  • Easier with clientless access.

  • Faster by being tunnel-free and deployed where your apps and services are.

  • Safer because every single action is verified before allowed to execute.

  • Tailored to your organization’s needs by integrating all data for context-aware access.

Check out our open-source Github Repository or give Pomerium a try today!

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