Before organizations transitioned to remote workplaces, VPNs played an integral role in encrypting the traffic to protect the transfer of sensitive data from cyber criminals scanning the network. However, VPNs were only effective for on-site employees because it was capable of connecting to the internal network only. For a remote workforce, the internal network needs to be exposed to the Internet, which makes it vulnerable to outside threats.
VPNs first arrived in the 1990s as a centralized architecture with strong roots within a data center but integrating a VPN into the cloud is not an easy task. The ideal security solution for a remote workplace is a Zero Trust VPN that continuously authenticates and authorizes remote employees as they connect to the cloud and access resources for their daily routine.
Reasons Why VPNs are No Longer Secure in 2022
Even when VPNs were useful in the past, modern cybersecurity needs have turned them obsolete because of these reasons:
- Attack surface remains broad
Users accessing their organization’s resources through VPN credentials can access the entire network. Since most team members are now remote, they use different devices and Internet connections for their daily routines. This increases the attack radius as an attacker only needs to get ahold of a single user’s credentials to access your organization’s critical systems.
- Service providers are no longer reliable
Organizations need to trust their VPN to ensure network security by knowing the service providers are not tracking or storing your data as you use their service. However, most VPN service providers use organizational data in numerous unethical ways. Most organizations acquire multiple legacy VPNs to change their approach to dealing with their customer data.
- Lack of central management abilities
VPN services lack the specific granular control capabilities that the IT team can use to configure different network parts to decrease the attack radius. Without central management, the team struggles to troubleshoot problems with specific systems or solve individual users’ problems without complications. VPNs expose your entire network with no easy way for segmentation to restrict users’ access to specific parts of the network.
VPNs are slow to set up, while making changes is even slower. Therefore, VPNs are not agile and inefficient for organizations that need to adapt to business changes or instantly change access privileges to the VPN. Most service providers have defined tiers that limit the number of users you can add to your network.
If your organization expands and hires more people who might need access to the VPN, you will have to reconfigure it. VPNs may have connectivity issues depending on the user’s location. VPNs have limited servers around the world, so if you hire someone who does not have a server near their country, your VPN will not be able to connect them to your network. Therefore, traditional VPNs are not scalable enough to be an effective cybersecurity solution.
What Makes Zero Trust the Perfect Cybersecurity Solution
A Zero Trust model labels every user as untrustworthy before they prove their identity. All access requests are evaluated through a risk and trust assessment system before granting the least access privileges to the network. Zero Trust uses micro-segmentation to identify user type, location, and role-based access privileges to determine when to trust a user, what resources they need, and how long the session is expected to last.
The Zero Trust framework uses Identity Access Management, Cloud Privileged Access Management, And Identity Governance and Administration to extend beyond the conventional access control system. You can continuously monitor, manage, remediate, and recover your network by eliminating standing privilege. Therefore, organizations can restrict their network perimeter, limiting the scope of damage even if a hacker obtains user credentials.
You can secure your remote workforce, enhance their productivity, and improve your organization’s agility by moving away from a traditional network security layer like VPNs and adopting an identity-focused Zero Trust framework. Here are some additional aspects of a Zero Trust framework that will benefit your organization:
- Increasing visibility into your organization’s network
Since a Zero Trust approach does not assume trust for anyone or any device, you can define the users and their devices as a security strategy. Zero Trust offers visibility into legacy resources, making it easier for the organization to discover and monitor its network. Therefore, you will have complete control over your resources and user activities, including location, time, and applications utilized by your users. The security system also flags unusual user behavior and revokes access unless the administrator reviews it.
- Simplifying IT management
Zero Trust operates on continuous monitoring and analytics, you can easily automate the evaluation of access requests. The Privileged Access Management system uses key identifiers to judge the request. If it is evaluated to be low-risk, the system grants access automatically. Administrators only have to validate and approve the requests that the system flags as suspicious.
- Optimizing the system for existing staff
Your security team can increase productivity by working smarter and using a centralized monitoring system to generate reliable data, store it in a single location, and facilitate strong analytics. This gives your team better insights on how they can increase perimeter security.
- Improving data protection
Zero Trust combines a zero-standing privilege framework with just-in-time access to identify rouge employees or malware and revoke access to other network segments. Even if malware bypasses your firewall, Zero Trust will contain it in an isolated segment to keep the remaining network free from infection.
VPNs are becoming less popular in 2022 because they lack granular access control and the ability to convert the network into segments. Attackers can use compromised credentials to connect to your network through your VPN and access your systems. On the other hand, a Zero Trust approach continuously authenticates and authorizes the users before granting the least privilege access, helping IT teams secure the network from inside and outside threats. Moving to an identity-based security system will bring long-term benefits to your organization by enhancing productivity and agility.