What to look for in a VPN alternative

Zach DeMeyer
May 1, 2024

Let’s face it. Remote access VPNs are no longer an effective approach to fully securing today’s organizations and their access to remote resources. Putting aside the growing number of VPN vulnerabilities hitting the news, VPNs are difficult for end users and offer little by way of role-based or other fine-tuned access control. Often, end users will either avoid VPNs unless completely necessary or create tons of tickets for IT to handle, creating major security and operational headaches.

If your business is feeling dragged down by VPNs, it’s time to seek out a better option. Here are a few characteristics you should look for in a VPN alternative.

Key characteristics of an effective VPN alternative

  • Fast: Performance is one of the biggest pain points with VPNs. Creating a secure tunnel between the remote system and VPN gateway introduces latency due to the distance traffic must travel and reduces performance from the added encryption layers protecting the traffic. The further the device is from the VPN gateway, the higher the latency, which can greatly impact the user experience and impair productivity, leading end users to forego VPN usage altogether. Today’s best VPN alternatives provide stronger security with minimal impact on throughput via dedicated architectures. The result is an unnoticeable in performance while rendering traffic invisible to bad actors.
  • Always on: Unless absolutely required, many end users avoid using VPNs. This presents major issues, both in their ability to access resources and the obvious security ramifications. Besides a lack of a secure connection between resources, avoiding VPNs can lead to visibility gaps and shadow IT. An always-on VPN alternative eliminates the burden of continuously logging into VPNs while providing security.
  • Zero Trust Network Access: Although users need an “identity” to log into a VPN, few VPNs secure access based on identity as they often use shared IP Address pools. In a zero trust network access approach, where identity-based access control is paramount, standard VPNs can’t keep up. The best VPN alternatives allow you to control who can access what network resources without establishing multiple tunnels with varying levels of security. That means you can even enforce multi-factor authentication (MFA) easily without interrupting the process.
  • Location-dependent: With a traditional VPN, anyone can use it to access secure resources provided they have credentials. This means that a bad actor could use your VPN from known cybercrime regions without any restrictions. Ideally, your VPN alternative gives you the ability to limit remote access to known locations, creating an “in-office” experience, even when your users are remote, but without exposing your connections to attackers or nation-state threats.
  • Fully integrated: Generally, many VPNs create friction when ingesting their data into observability solutions like SIEM. In today’s cybersecurity landscape, where visibility is of the utmost importance, feeding your VPN data into a SIEM allows you to see exactly who accesses your resources and when. Your VPN alternative must be seamlessly integrated into your observability solution of choice so you can act quickly if something is amiss.

Of course, these are only a few characteristics that the best VPN alternatives share, but they prove to be a difference maker for organizations struggling with VPN friction and vulnerabilities.

SASE: your VPN alternative

Secure Access Service Edge, or SASE, provides a fast, always-on VPN alternative that leverages a zero trust approach to secure remote access. SASE incorporates seamlessly into SIEM solutions and enables organizations to operate securely without exposing their internet traffic to public eyes and bad actors. As such, it’s a leading choice for organizations looking to replace their VPNs with a sophisticated alternative.  

You can learn more about how SASE replaces VPNng altogether and how to choose the right one for you by reading our eBook.

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Additional reading

Threat breakdown: Remote access and credential dumping
5 key elements of effective MDR providers: Beyond just detection and response
Streamlining zero trust security with JumpCloud and Todyl

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