Why VPN no longer has a place in a secure work environment

In light of the shift to remote work, businesses need to make sure their employees can easily, reliably, and securely access the data and applications they need to be productive from anywhere. Of course, this is easier said than done. IT support teams and administrators are under more pressure to support a variety of devices ranging from company to employee to contractor – any device that touches the corporate network needs to have secure access.

With companies moving to the cloud or hybrid cloud, there is a real push toward a simple and secure means of accessing corporate data and apps from anywhere. So why is now the right time for companies move away from VPNs?

Why VPNs are a solution of the past

VPNs had their purpose at one point. The centralized technology used in VPNs to give employees access to company data and apps worked well when everyone was in one place. They were designed for a small number of employees to connect to the corporate environment. Now, with the growing population of remote workers, VPNs often fall short, leaving users less productive, and often they provide a poor user experience. Not to mention, to effectively keep up with the demands of the remote workforce, IT administrators would need to add additional VPN servers wherever their employees are located.

In simple terms, VPNs for secure work are outdated. They can’t keep up with the needs of a flexible and widespread workforce and they can’t supply the secure access that businesses need.

Enter Zero Trust security

Moving beyond VPNs, a far more secure and scalable model has entered the picture: zero-trust. There has been an evident increase in recognition of the importance of this architecture, with 72% of organizations around the world either adopting or in the process of adopting a zero-trust security system.

Businesses must intelligently and strategically choose what security solutions they need and apply those technologies in a manner that deals with the core issues that enable flexibility and choice of a decentralized IT. Zero-trust is that strategic focus that leverages available security solutions to deal with the fundamental issues that allow heterogeneous infrastructure and BYODs.

Zero-trust evolved from the need for a more identity-centric approach to the adoption of mobile and cloud technologies. It tied dynamic authorization to the identity. Zero-trust particularly started moving to the center stage throughout the pandemic and picked up pace moving into the hybrid era. As cloud solutions and platforms grew, secure access became increasingly important. Zero-trust methods reduce the cost of a data breach by about $1.76 million. Zero-trust also reduces the blast radius of these data breaches by isolating applications. With remote work here to stay, businesses can’t afford to have weak security systems.

One door closes, another one opens

Zero-trust does what VPNs never could, as they remove any implicit trust from the environment through a layered security approach. By default, zero-trust is a security model that denies access to data and applications and takes the “never trust, always verify approach”. Unless you have verified granular access, you can’t be granted entrance into corporate data.

Also, unlike VPNs, zero-trust architectures assume data access is not uniform. This enables regulated scenarios like healthcare or finance to easily implement zero-trust architectures without exposing sensitive data to everyone within the organization. There are informed risk-based and contextual verifications across users and devices to gain access.

Zero-trust advocates three simple principles:

  1. All entities are untrusted by default
  2. Least privileged access is enforced
  3. Comprehensive security monitoring is implemented

These principles are why zero-trust is more suitable for remote work. They securely enable the “anywhere, anytime” workforce through continuous and rigorous verifications to ensure that, although you can get privileged access anywhere, it is not open to anyone.

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About Plow Networks

Plow Networks is a leading IT services provider, connecting businesses to technology since 2012. With deep expertise in network, cloud, and end user support services, we partner with clients to leverage technology in ways that simplify operations and fuel growth. Plow Networks is based in Brentwood, Tennessee.

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