Zero Trust or VPN: Which One Is The Best For Your Business?

As remote work system continues to grow, companies leverage various security frameworks and technologies to secure data transmission between remote workers and clients, companies, etc. Zero Trust security solutions and VPNs have become more considered options among private individuals and organizations.

While VPNs have grown in their usage among remote workers, are they better alternatives to Zero Trust? Are they even wholly safe and effective for the security of networks, systems, data, and applications?

VPNs, also Virtual Private Networks, were developed about two decades ago to make it possible for networks to connect securely. Though there has been a lot of advancement in the development over the years, they still need to be complemented by other security features to meet the rising security challenges in cyberspace.

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What Exactly Are VPNs

Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) are cybersecurity tools used to secure the identity of users and data across networks. They disguise a user’s identity by hiding their IP addresses, encrypting their data, and sending and receiving information. Its immense benefits include security, functionality, and management of a private network. In addition, resources on private networks are accessible to those connected to the network irrespective of their base and location.

VPNs are used mainly to connect remote workers. And its encryption feature is a central part of the tool, leveraging point-to-point connection through tunnel protocols or dedicated circuits over existing networks.

What Is Zero Trust Security Solution?

Zero Trust is a security framework requiring a process of authentication, authorization, and constant validation processes for security configuration and posture before access is considered for a potential user to use data and applications.

From its name, Zero Trust means “no trust,” meaning any access request must be found safe and worthy of using network assets before permission is granted. This procedure ensures constant security measures over the network. It assumes that the network can either be in the cloud or a hybrid combination with resources accessible for various tasks.

Zero Trust secures data and infrastructure for modern digital transformation. It is more recent when compared to VPNs and uniquely addresses the intensity and sophistication of cyber attackers in today’s world. 

While different ZTN vendors have come up with a wide range of definitions, it has standards from recognized organizations that support ease of alignment with your company.

As your company finds remote work more adaptable, it becomes necessary for companies to be realistic about their cybersecurity. One thing you want to decide is if Zero Trust or VPN should be the central focus of your company’s cybersecurity policy.

Zero Trust vs. VPNs

VPNs are traditional security tools that help to protect your online privacy, identity, and data. They secure data using secure and encrypted tunnels between your device and the Internet, making it difficult for Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to monitor the user’s activity. However, it is essential to find efficient VPN solutions as some offer more secure encryption than others or have more widespread servers than others worldwide to help users bypass geographic restrictions. 

But does this make them robust enough to secure the modern work environment than the Zero Trust?

Zero Trust secures a flat network with linear access, and its core component is micro-segmentation. Micro-segmentation makes it possible to create multiple security and access control policies while isolating specific workloads. This compresses the attack surface to prevent malicious access and hackers from moving laterally across to lay hold of the company data.

The attack surface is simply a set of access points on a system environment, element, or boundary where an attacker can try to penetrate a system to extract data, steal data, or cause other devastating effects.

Attackers can exploit VPN credentials to access a network. Also, they can leverage compromised credentials to gain complete network access. Unlike Zero trust, which repeatedly scrutinizes access to a network, VPNs offer a kind of excess-liberal access to users. It is an opportunity that could be leveraged to modify data stored in multiple locations because it is designed for network-level visibility with no control over its application layer.

Zero Trust is developed to support cloud infrastructures, but VPNs are not since they are typically focused on securing on-site networks. Their networks are slower and latent when compared to the Zero Trust alternative. Actually, in most cases, VPN network traffic is routed through a data center before it can become accessible by a user via a VPN

Zero Trust is a cost-effective security option and easier to manage. VPN often requires manual configuration, which can be time-consuming and frustrating.

Zero Trust Security Solutions is Better Than VPNs

Unlike VPNs, the Zero Trust principle executes cyber security policies at the level of identification. It creates a system to control access to a network through identity verification.

The Zero Trust role-based access controls enrich security by fostering better visibility on connectivity. As such, it promotes a security posture through more efficient enforcement of policies.

Zero Trust is software-defined and can be used to perform micro-segmentation and secure resources left vulnerable by a VPN. Zero Trust has better efficiency as a cybersecurity procedure and harnesses quite different data security approaches, unlike the VPN.

Because VPNs are appliance-based solutions made available in data centers and managed with restricted scope in scalability. Zero Trust is auto-scale. It boosts productivity and minimizes the attack surface. 

As a cloud-native solution, it doesn’t require traffic backhauling, offering a great end-user experience.

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