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Remote Access Challenge – VPN Alternatives

We have been living in a pandemic for two years now. Remote work models have become a norm for many of us, and we know that it is her to stay. As employees enjoy working from home models, businesses are concerned about security risks because they need to find ways to secure all the end-points, and branch locations in their network. In this regard, a VPN can offer secure remote access to corporate resources, but it can’t ensure the overall security of your network as it has few limitations and vulnerabilities that increase the risks of potential threats.

In today’s world, businesses can’t overlook the potential threats because cybercriminals constantly improve their skills, and plan more sophisticated attacks to steal sensitive data. Additionally, cyber crimes have been skyrocketing since businesses shifted to remote work in 2020. That’s why, businesses can’t count on VPNs to maintain the overall security of their network, and mitigate the security risks.

Limitations of VPNs

At first, traditional VPNs can seem like an excellent solution for secure remote access as they create private tunnels for employees to connect corporate resources safely. Additionally, VPNs ensure the anonymity and privacy of your network traffic and use end-to-end encryption to make data transfers safe.

But, VPNs don’t provide full-scale protection of your network and corporate resources. Some limitations and vulnerabilities of VPNs show that they aren’t sustainable for modern corporate networks. Solely trusting VPNs to secure the remote workforce puts organizations at higher risks of cyber-attacks and data breaches. Let’s explain the main reasons why VPNs aren’t suitable for modern-day businesses.

1- Increased Network Complexity      

VPNs increase the complexity of network security as businesses count on external VPN servers. This complexity of VPNs affects the speed and performance of your network. Additionally, as the number of employees and third-party vendors grows, it becomes even harder to control who is using which VPN for accessing corporate networks. In this regard, it is inefficient to control a large number of users.

2- Lack of Multi-Factor Authentication 

The multi-factor authentication systems are an essential component for securing corporate networks as it requires you to authenticate your identity before accessing the network. But, many VPNs don’t have multi-authentication systems, meaning they let anyone in who has the right login credentials.

Lack of MFA increases the security risks because login credentials can be easily compromised. If cyber criminals obtain login credentials, they can access your network without any authentication of their identities. So, they can roam across your network freely by masking themselves as authorized VPN users without anyone knowing. In short, the lack of MFA paves the way for cyber-attacks and data breaches.

3- Limited Control and Visibility

VPNs have limited control and visibility on how third-party organizations use them, or what they are doing within the network. So, network managers can’t monitor users’ or third-party organizations’ behaviors.

The Best VPN Alternatives

When limitations and vulnerabilities of VPNs are taken into account there are few alternatives that can ensure the full-scale security of your network and provide remote secure access to employees.

1- Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA)

Zero Trust Network Access is based on the idea “never trust, always verify”, so it always assumes that every device and user is compromised. It demands authentication all the time and never grants access without verification of identity. Additionally, it limits users’ access within the network and prohibits any lateral movement. In this regard, it reduces the surface areas of possible attacks. Lastly, ZTNA tools are capable of doing everything that VPN services do. But, it is better than VPNs when it comes to maintaining full-scale security.

2- Secure Service Access Edge (SASE)

Secure Service Access Edge (SASE) is a cloud-native service that combines networking and security features together. It consists of five main components and ZTNA is one of them. SASE architecture is an excellent solution for securing all the end-point users in your network. As SASE’s both networking and security components operate together, it makes your network more secure. It mitigates the risks of potential threats, and reduces the impacts of possible attacks on your organization.

3- Software-Defined Perimeters (SDP) & Software-Defined Wide Area Networks (SD-WAN)

SDP and SD-WAN are usually part of SASE/ZTNA solutions, but businesses also can implement them alone. They both can authenticate users and devices, maintain lighter network traffic, and monitor their activities and behaviors. Additionally, SD-WAN can provide secure access to remote employees. SDP tools can regulate access to corporate resources within the networks.

With SDP and SD-WAN, businesses have wider control and visibility across the enterprise, and they can monitor who is accessing which data, or how they behave. Since both SDP and SD-WAN use software-based security tools, they are more suitable for modern business networks.

If you consider implementing VPN alternatives, check out NordLayer,

(https://nordlayer.com/blog/vpn-alternatives-for-business/), SASE/ZTNA provider that ensures enhanced security for your company, partners, and employees.

Last Words

As of 2022, we know for sure that remote working is here to stay. To provide secure access to remote employees, VPNs aren’t the best solution as their limitations and vulnerabilities increase the security risks. Replacing VPNs with better alternatives can be more suitable for modern business networks.

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