What’s the best VPN alternative for remote access work?
Author: Kavita Verma
VPNs are virtual private networks designed to enhance the reach of data networks beyond a physical limit. The vast availability and low cost of internet services inspired businesses to take advantage of it and connect their branches, suppliers, and customers in a single network.
The biggest problem with implementing remote VPNs access is security. Many security risks increase when you add more VPN-type accesses in a conventional network-centric model.
However, VPNs are now a thing of the past as there are many other alternatives for remote work and connectivity. Using a VPN alternative can enable a business to enhance the security and visibility of their WAN (wide area network). Here are some popular VPN alternatives that businesses can use for remote work.
Zero Trust Network Access
As a great VPN alternative, ZNTA (Zero Trust Network Access) is a brokered access to data and applications on a network. All users’ devices are verified before granting access. The zero trust methods are used to perform the primary capabilities of a VPN, like a grant of access to specific networks and systems, but with an additional layer of security in the form of identity authentication, credential storage, and employment verification.
As a result, if an attacker infects a system, the damage is restricted to the resources that this system has access to. Also, use network monitoring tools to detect unusual behavior, such as an infected machine performing a port scan, so you can produce an alert and shut down the infected machine automatically.
Limitations of ZNTA
More devices to manage.
There are more devices to keep track of. In today’s workplace, there are not only many types of users but also various types of equipment for each of them. Different types of gadgets may have unique attributes and communication methods that must be monitored and secured.
Complex application management
Application management has become more difficult. Similarly, the applications are diverse. Apps are frequently cloud-based and can be used on various platforms. It’s possible that they’ll be shared with others. App use should be planned, monitored, and tailored especially to user needs, in keeping with a Zero Trust attitude.
Secure Access Service Edge (SASE)
It is possible to verify every user and device using the ZNTA model before granting access at the network and application levels. However, it fixes only a part of the problem and does not monitor all the traffic from one endpoint to another.
SASE is a cloud-based approach that unifies network and security activities into a single architecture service, allowing a firm to manage its network from a single screen. With added layers of network functionality and underlying cloud-native security architecture, SASE is a modern solution built to satisfy today’s enterprises’ performance and security needs.
It enables simplified management and operation, lower costs, and better visibility and security. SASE enables IT teams and an organization’s complete workforce to work securely in the new normal of work from anywhere.
Limitations of SASE
The most important potential disadvantage is that IT teams forego some of the benefits of multisourcing, such as ensuring that various pieces are sourced from the best available providers for certain functions and reducing vendor risk.
Because SASE delivers all networking and security operations as a single service, consumers risk enormous single point of failure (SPOF) or exposure. Technical failures on the provider side can potentially result in full system shutdowns for end users.
A software-defined perimeter (SDP) is a network boundary based on software rather than hardware that is an effective alternative to traditional VPN solutions when used as part of larger zero trust strategies.
Not only can you utilize multi-factor authentication and partition your network, but you can also profile the user and the device connecting and define rules to limit access to only what it truly requires in certain scenarios.
Instead of completely disabling the device and rendering a user unable to do meaningful work, SDP blocks access to resources once it detects suspicious behavior in your network.
Limitations of SDP
Vulnerability of the controller
Controllers connect devices to secure resources, which is a crucial element in an SDP design. A link to resources cannot be made when controls are unavailable.
Despite the inclusion of many modern devices, it may be difficult to link old routers or vendor-specific devices with the SDP software.
Software-defined WAN (SD-WAN)
SD-WAN is intended to be a more efficient VPN alternative. SD-WAN delivers optimum routing of encrypted traffic between a network of SD-WAN appliances rather than implementing point-to-point communication. In addition, secure SD-WAN solutions incorporate a whole security stack into an SD-WAN appliance to provide the necessary security.
SD-key WAN’s drawback is that it can only provide secure, optimal connectivity to locations where an SD-WAN device is installed. SASE solves this challenge by delivering cloud-based security services. Security services can be provided in close proximity to cloud-based resources or geographically dispersed remote employees, reducing the network performance impact of traffic routing over the SASE network.
IAM (Identity and access management)
A remote VPN access can benefit from enhanced security provided by an Identity and Access Management (IAM) infrastructure. Instead of only requiring a username and password, identity management software integrates a thorough (and required!) verification process to ensure that all login attempts are authentic.
(If you need a reason why this is important, read about the Colonial Pipeline attack, which occurred due to a lack of authentication.) You can use this solution to add multi-factor authentication to your remote VPN access connection. You can also assign authority to a third-party vendor using their IAM solution.
Another security aspect is that session activity, and access privileges are tied to the specific user, allowing network administrators to ensure that each user has been granted access and trace each network connection. Additional layers of access are frequently provided by IAM systems, ensuring that users can only access the resources that they are allowed to use.
While this VPN alternative (or a solution to use in conjunction with your VPN) controls identification protocols and allows for more detailed activity monitoring, it does not provide additional security for privileged credentials. Therefore, a distinct approach is required to securely manage the credentials for privileged accounts.
Limitations of IAM
There is the risk of outsourcing critical functions, which is easily avoidable. When you transmit your identity management requirements to the cloud, your company’s firewall and crucial business functions are exposed to the internet. If you’re planning to use an IDaaS solution, be sure your data and infrastructure are secure.
Use a third-party security platform.
When a company hires vendors, partners, or IT consultants, they need secure remote network access to support its technology and applications; hence, privileged access is frequently required. Internal access accounts, which frequently have more limited control, require a different remote access method and more advanced security than external access accounts, which require a different remote access approach and more advanced protection.
Furthermore, third parties may have many support representatives who come and go from the organization. As a result, managing all of the moving pieces when deciding whether external entities should or shouldn’t have access to your network and secret information becomes difficult to manage using an IAM or PAM solution.
Businesses can use a third-party remote access security solution to mitigate these dangers. For example, controlled on-boarding, and access termination privileges for external users can be accomplished with the help of a third-party security platform.
In addition, new proposed regulations governing remote access necessitate the inclusion of specific functionalities to remain compliant. These principles are included in third-party remote access systems to provide powerful authentication procedures, access controls, and auditing tools while assuring compliance.
5 Best VPN Alternatives
Here are some alternative tools that can be used as an alternative to VPNs for remote access and work.
With Perimeter 81, you can easily create, manage and secure your networks connecting to any businesses in-house or cloud environments. It is a Zero Trust Secure network as a Service that uses a software-defined architecture that offers higher network visibility and flexibility to new users. Also, it offers high compatibility with major cloud infrastructure service providers.
Perimeter 81 allows a network segmentation that enables a business to create internal boundaries to control the data flow in a granular way. The trusted zones are made up of elements in which all the resources offer similar functions and operate at the same trust level. As a result, it minimizes the number of communication pathways that limit threats consistently.
Perimeter 81 Limitations
- The advanced features are available only for inexpensive plans.
- Relatively small country selection options.
- Customer support can access a lot of your information.
Twingate is a cloud-based service and a great VPN alternative that makes it possible for a business to configure a software-defined perimeter for its resources without changing its infrastructure. It enables you to centrally manage user access, whether it’s in-house access or in a cloud environment.
Twingate reduces the exposure to cyber-attacks significantly to make the internal network completely secure and invisible to the internet. In addition, due to the presence of resource-level access control, hackers are not able to access your network even if they can compromise users or resources.
Twingate can scale from 10 to 10K resources. The access management can be carried out from the Twingate controller, a web-based central management console. The integration of the tool with leading identity providers allows secure authentication of users and ensures that resource requirements come from authorized users only.
- A third party gains access to your infrastructure
- No access control at the port level
- The command-line interface is only available for Linux
- Twingate may not be suitable for businesses with stringent privacy/security requirements
The TeamViewer solution offers remote access to devices as an alternative to VPNs, with speed, security, functionality, and cost advantages. TeamViewer is the most popular remote access service, with over 2 billion connected devices and 200 million active users.
When you connect to a distant device with TeamViewer, you can increase connection speed by transmitting only the information needed to offer interactivity over the network, reducing the amount of data sent. In addition, end-to-end data encryption and additional security measures such as two-factor authentication ensure information protection.
Remote devices can be shared among numerous users simultaneously with TeamViewer. In addition, the solution includes features such as file or screen sharing and session recording.
Setting up and maintaining a VPN is several times more expensive than using this VPN alternative, which does not require extensive installation or maintenance.
A free version of TeamViewer is available for users who want to use it privately to allow friends or relatives remote access to their computer or device. This system allows users to share files and screens while still maintaining contact via audio, video, and chat.
- Large files cannot be shared on Teamviewer
- It does not work through proxy servers
- To work on Teamviewer, every system needs to have the same version of Teamwork
- The machines need to be active to be accessible.
Zscaler Private Access
A security-as-a-service firm Zscaler Private Access, or ZPA, is a cloud-based zero-trust networking solution that restricts access to private applications, whether they run in public clouds or a proprietary data center. ZPA protects apps from being exposed to the internet, rendering them fully invisible to unauthorized users.
This zero-trust network access technique works with both managed and unmanaged devices and any type of private program, not only web apps. ZPA enables network administrators to segment by an application without the requirement for traditional network segmentation or artificial segmentation via access levels or firewall settings by establishing micro tunnels.
Tunnels with TLS encryption and personalized private keys (PKI) add an extra layer of protection to corporate application access. Zscaler is prioritizing user assistance so they may work from anywhere without compromising productivity at a time when remote work appears to be here to stay.
- It’s difficult to set up across a multinational organization with broken-out locations with SD-WAN circuits.
- Private IPs are not visible to IT admins.
- Less documentation is available to understand the ZPA model
V2 Cloud -Cloud Desktop Services
Also known as Desktop as a service or virtual desktops, the cloud-hosted desktops are the perfect VPN alternative and can be easily accessible from any location provided that they are connected to the internet. V2 Cloud solutions is an example of cloud hosted desktop services for businesses.
The Covid -19 pandemic has forced organizations to adapt to a work-from-home culture that makes remote access essential for employees. According to a verified market research, the cloud desktops market is predicted to cross over $11 Billion by 2026.
Virtual desktop services allow users to access windows based desktops or applications from any physical location with internet connectivity. Desktop services are offered through
- A high-level server running in a data center with one or more instances of windows.
- A desktop virtualization infrastructure for management of windows instances and assigning users
- A gateway to access the desktops from a location outside the data center.
- A device from which a user can access the virtual Desktop. This can be a mobile device, laptop, or desktop computer.
- A remote protocol through which audio, video, mouse, and keyboard data is shared between Desktop and user endpoint.
V2 Cloud offers cloud-hosted virtual desktop solutions to small businesses and IT managers, eliminating the need for physical computers for their employees. They help organizations increase productivity by enabling their employees to work from anywhere. Also, the business data and applications reside on the cloud and not on users’ devices, and there is no risk of data security even if a device is lost or damaged.
It’s crucial to highlight that you shouldn’t “throw out” your VPN after learning more about VPN alternatives. VPNs are beneficial and important, but they should not be used for third-party remote access. Whether it’s software or a new pen, we’re constantly bombarded with choices in our daily lives. Therefore, it’s critical to understand your requirements, regardless of what you’re looking to buy, selecting the ideal remote VPN access option for your company.