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3 VPN Alternatives and Comparison [2024]

3 VPN Alternatives and Comparison [2024]

VPN – For years now, both personal and business users have been using virtual private networks (or VPNs) to secure their company data. Some 50% of people in the UK report using VPNs for business purposes, for example, although a smaller percentage do so at the request of their employer.

While the market leading VPNs offer more than enough protection for small and medium-sized ventures, however, larger companies or those that are scaling quickly may look to seek out alternative or additional technologies.

This is especially true as hybrid working becomes increasingly commonplace, as companies may need to enhance their security infrastructure if they’re to cope with remote file sharing and the increased demand for third party contractors.

But what are the alternatives to completing a VPN download, and how do they compare? Let’s find out!

#1. Zero Trust Network Access

This technology (which may also be referred to as ZTNA) is often mandated for large-scale government contractors, and it essentially works by providing brokered access to applications and data on an existing network.

Individual users and devices are challenged and verified before access is granted, and works on the presumption that every potential user and access point may be compromised.

While this technology performs the most basic functions of a VPN (such as granting access to company systems and secured networks), it augments this with further security in the form of ‘least-privileged’ access.

This means that the technology reaches down into individual applications, while also requiring identity authentication and verification from an employer.

One advantage of this technology is that it minimises the damage caused by cyberthieves or hackers, as those who are able to breach the network protection are only able to impact individual systems or applications. This is a huge boon to large-scale organisations, for whom a universal data breach could prove catastrophic (both economically and reputationally).

Ultimately, Zero Trust Network Access is only really necessary for huge corporations or businesses that are scaling quickly, or potentially government agencies that handle huge swathes of potential data.

#2. Secure Access Service Edge

While the ZTNA model creates multiple points of verification before users can access specific systems, it doesn’t monitor all traffic from a single end point to another.

Of course, you can combine a ZTNA with a paid VPN to help resolve this issue, but another option is to consider so-called “Secure Access Service Edge” (SASE) technology.

This technology utilises a cloud-based model that automatically integrates network and security functions, all within a robust, single architecture. This creates improved ease of use and enables companies to create a single entry point to their network, which can be managed through one screen or interface.

This is a highly contemporary and integrated solution, and one that works by simplifying management, reducing operational costs and introducing a flexible, cloud-based architecture. Overall, this contributes to far more flexible usage and enables employees to function securely and as normal regardless of where they are in the world, which offers huge advantages in a post-Covid and flexible working landscape.

#3. Software-Defined Perimeter

Interestingly, ‘Software-Defined Perimeter’ is often implemented within a wider Zero Trust strategy, and may also be deployed alongside a capable VPN solution.

As the name suggests, however, this describes a network boundary that’s built on software instead of hardware, and in this respect, it arguably represents an evolution of basic VPN functionality.

This also creates the best of both worlds for corporate users, who can leverage multi-factor authentication while segmenting their network. It’s also possible to profile users and individual devices, in order to create rules and allow access based on different situations and perimeters.

Interestingly, SDP also makes it easier for corporate users to block access to resources once suspicious behaviour has been identified. This can help to isolate potential threats, which prevents individual attacks from causing optimal damage.

This may also help in instances where behaviour (such as a series of incorrect system logins) is incorrectly identified as being suspicious or malicious, as it negates the need to completely disable a device and impact on an employees’ productivity within a specific period of time.

The Last Word

As we can see, some of these solutions are compatible with VPNs, while others represent an evolution of the technology that underpins virtual private networks.

However, it’s important that you consider all potential network security solutions for your small business in 2023, depending on its scale and how your employees typically interact with files and sensitive datasets.

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