Insight by Booz Allen Hamilton and Versa Networks

Three reasons why zero trust edge will supercharge DoD’s move to zero trust architecture

How can leaders in DoD rapidly strengthen security, reduce costs and protect high-value assets in real time?

This content was written by Imran Umar, vice president at Booz Allen Hamilton and Kelly Ahuja, CEO at Versa Networks.

Cyber adversaries will stop at nothing to compromise any military systems, data and missions. That’s why the Defense Department is adopting zero trust — a security framework that presumes networks are compromised and counters threats by design. All DoD organizations are expected to achieve “target level” zero trust architecture by 2027. This requires multiple security functions to identify, authenticate and authorize users or devices based on posture to securely connect to applications.

As a result, DoD turned to Booz Allen and Versa Networks to develop a security hardened zero trust edge approach that will transform DoD’s infrastructure through a unified software platform that delivers zero trust “built-in” to every network edge — local area networks (LAN), wide area networks (WAN) or cloud.

How does this solution benefit the DoD?

  • Extends protection to the network edge: This enforces conditional access policies, monitoring ongoing user and device security posture, validates user identity, enables micro-segmentation, and replaces legacy security stacks. Instead of perpetuating the traditional security model that “hairpins” traffic to a central stack for inspection and policy enforcement through a patchwork of point products stitched together, zero trust edge moves security to any and all network edges and inspects traffic within the LAN or WAN. This helps simplify the design, implementation, lifecycle management and operational challenges: Instead of keeping organizations dependent on multiple routers, firewalls and incident detection/prevention systems, zero trust edge combines all these tools into one cost-effective platform that correlates and integrates logs to achieve better security outcomes.
  • Connects users, devices and sites to applications: In addition to enabling conditional access, the solution dynamically picks the optimal end-to-end path across any or all available transports (e.g., 5G, radio, satellite communications, terrestrial) through a software-defined wide area network (SD-WAN) to deliver the best user-to-application experience.
  • Extends protection to the tactical edge: The solution scales to meet the needs of a variety of use-cases in IT, operational technology and tactical environments. It is deployable in a variety of form factors including certified small and/or hardened platforms for any trusted or untrusted edge, including conditional access and segmentation. This helps organizations deliver secure communications for forward-deployed operators in disrupted, disconnected, intermittent and low-bandwidth tactical environments. What’s more, this technology improves transport efficiency by enabling a choice of transport methods.

How can leaders of these agencies rapidly strengthen security, reduce costs and protect high-value assets in real time?

By incorporating an innovative zero trust edge approach that delivers all the security needed in a unified platform at any edge. Coined by Forrester, zero trust edge is a cybersecurity model designed to offer a secure approach for organizations to connect to their resources, both at their physical locations and for remote workers.

Zero trust edge is expected to fully converge networking and security — integrating zero trust security principles with software-defined networking to create a cohesive solution. Such convergence represents a significant evolution in how network security is approached, shifting from traditional perimeter-based security models to more dynamic, flexible and secure network architecture.

A 2023 report recognized Versa as a leader in the Forrester Wave zero trust edge solution.

Ready for deployment

Booz Allen has hardened and accredited Versa’s technology to meet DoD’s zero trust needs. It is the first vendor to deploy the technology on unclassified and classified networks at scale in a fully automated way in the cloud, on-premises and at the tactical edge. This platform converges network and security to deliver unmatched observability to simplify the design, deployment and lifecycle management of a zero trust infrastructure. This solution is already deployed in the DoD and is ready for use in zero trust projects across the armed services and defense agencies — and Booz Allen is uniquely positioned to help other organizations adopt Versa’s technology.

To learn more about how Versa can deliver a leading solution for you, download the Forrester Wave Zero Trust Edge Solution Report.

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