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Is your company depending on VPNs to access documents, files, and applications remotely? Unfortunately, legacy VPN products no longer meet the security requirements of today’s global enterprise. Many employees often proactively install commercial VPNs that are not provided or sanctioned by their companies, to protect their devices and data. Unfortunately, these well-intentioned efforts can pose an even greater security risk for their company than doing nothing at all. While the use of VPNs has increased drastically in recent decades, the challenges far outweigh the benefits, especially for organizations that use such services on a daily basis.

Recent research has shown that VPNs compromise security through exposure of sensitive data, place limitations on data storage capabilities for free users, consume a device’s processing power (which can ultimately allow service providers to sell bandwidth for profit), and reduce internet speeds overtime.

The report also points to research that shows unpatched vulnerabilities, such as VPN fingerprinting, man-in-the-middle attacks, weak system configurations, and unauthorized collections of VPN account credentials, among the networks that were tested. Such flaws pose significant security risks for corporate VPNs as they allow attackers to gain access to confidential information and data more easily. Let’s analyze some of the reasons why VPNs no longer meet users’ expectations.

5 ways VPNs fall short

VPNs do not enforce corporate device security and compliance requirements

Any device can be infected with malware outside the corporate perimeter and expose the network to potential attacks when accessing company data. When employees and partners access a resource, can you assess the security status of their devices before they log in? It matters because one compromised device can wreak havoc on your network and data.

VPNs expose your network

VPNs provide access not only to an intended resource but may also grant access to the entire company network. If this is the case, it is difficult to have visibility into who has access, and to what resources. An organization could unwittingly give the keys to its digital kingdom to an unintended individual, creating significant breach risks.

VPNs do not support attribute-based access

Role-based access is an important tool for security teams, but it does not provide enough coverage to assure trust. VPNs don’t support attribute-based access and cannot provide critical information on a user’s identity or a device’s security state or location, to ensure secure access and resource protection.

VPNs are not fast enough

VPNs don’t enable continuous connectivity, creating connections that aren’t stable and may hinder employee productivity. VPNs are plagued by continuous disconnects, which force application-layer timeouts causing employees to waste time waiting for VPN reconnects and app reloads, costing organizations money and time.

Switching between multiple VPNs is complicated

When using a traditional VPN, you must switch between VPN configurations to access multi-site environments. However, connecting to multiple infrastructure sites without switching access profiles, which most VPNs do not support, is more productive and efficient.

VPNs do not protect your device

VPNs don’t protect from web-based attacks such as credential theft, phishing, drive-by downloads, or malvertising, which are the most significant cybersecurity threats for enterprises. An employee or partner with a compromised device can still use a VPN to access the corporate network without raising an alarm.

Like many technologies, VPNs served an important role in the evolution of secure access. However, the connectivity and security demands of the global startup and enterprise ecosystem require stronger defenses to support connected teams, partners, and businesses.

Photo: fizkes / Shutterstock

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Sinan Eren

Posted by Sinan Eren

Sinan Eren is one of the founders of Fyde, a Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA) innovator that was acquired by Barracuda. Sinan is now VP, Zero Trust Access at Barracuda.

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