The cybersecurity space seems to have advanced so quickly that a lot of us are finding it difficult to keep up with all of the latest developments. One of the latest debates to hit the industry is whether enterprise virtual private networks (VPNs) are still secure, and whether or not they could be replaced by software-defined perimeters (SDPs) in the future.
We’ve summarized exactly why securing your perimeter defenses is just so important these days, and to shed some light on the growing importance of SDPs.
Why Cybersecurity is so Important
It should be obvious to anyone with even a casual understanding of technology that cyber-attacks are on the rise. From the average home internet user right up to the largest corporations, we’re all at increased risk of hacking and malware infection.
Plus, legacy network protections just aren’t able to keep up with the sophisticated nature of modern cyber attacks anymore, which is why we’re seeing a huge range of innovative cloud solutions and outsourced management of defenses. We’re moving away from the old way of thinking faster than we thought too, as remote working has started to empty out offices the world over.
We’re no longer limited to controlled, on-site network connections, but can instead access systems and data from just about anywhere. This means security measures have had to step up to meet the demands of remote access, with VPNs and SDPs stepping in to fill the gap.
Are Cloud-Based VPNs Still Secure?
You might be surprised to learn that VPNs were introduced around 20 years ago, and have become one of the most popular ways to secure remote access since then. However, they were never designed to meet the complex network requirements and high volumes of traffic we’re seeing today.
In the past, you might have only needed a VPN to get the occasional contractor or freelancer into your network, but mass remote working has seen millions of key workers make the switch too. Frankly, some cloud-based VPNs may be too simplistic for today’s access requirements and are throwing up problems like:
- They can be overly permissive – Once a remote user has been authenticated by a VPN, then they become ‘trusted’ by that network. This can sometimes mean they’re given access to more of the network than necessary, and they’re just aren’t enough customization options to prevent unauthorized logins.
For example, if you use a lot of contractors, you have to make sure their authentication is removed once they’ve completed the project, or they’ll still be able to access your network
- Poor end-user experience – Organizations tend to need different VPNs for different tasks, slowing down the workforce and adding unnecessary barriers. For example, a sales rep might need access to a supply chain app, a customer management system, and an email client. Each of these could be hosted by different cloud providers, and each might need the sales rep to keep logging in and out using different VPNs
- New security concerns are being raised – VPNs are becoming an increasingly juicy target for hackers as a way to gain full access to company networks. Back in August 2020, IP addresses, usernames, and passwords for more than 900 VPN servers operated by Pulse Secure were hacked due to its failure to patch vulnerabilities.
VPNs were never designed for the kind of continuous use we’re seeing now, and greater strain on providers will likely see even more breaches like this
Is SDP the Best Alternative?
SDP is replacing VPN and taking up the security slack. It’s an innovative piece of tech that uses software, instead of hardware, to mask an organization’s infrastructure and hide anything connected to the internet from snoopers and criminals. They’re a step up from VPNs because not only must the user be verified, but the device must be too. It operates on the least privileged access basis and prevents unauthorized users from gaining access.
What Are the Benefits of SDP?
- Precise segmentation – Most SDPs can be linked up to your active directory, meaning you get full control of what each individual user will access. No more logging into different VPN servers for different systems
- Granular network visibility – Monitor exactly when users are logging into your network, the activities they’re carrying out, and check audit logs to ensure no unauthorized breach attempts have been made
- Highly scalable – SDP platforms will let you easily scale up or down depending on your staff numbers. You’ll find no costly VPN licenses and your users are much easier to manage
- Much tighter security – With policies based on individual users your network is much more secure. In the unlikely event of a breach, any would-be hacker will be restricted on what they can actually get their hands-on.
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