Worldr CEO, Max Buchan explains the growing need for zero trust security on Sky News

VPN isn’t enough: Why Zero Trust Security is the new way forward

Ensuring all access points are continuously vetted is the best approach to stopping a breach.

April 21, 2022

One of the more overlooked points of breach to a company’s network security is through their Virtual Private Network (VPN). 

A large number of systems are propelled by the principle of connect and then authenticate, which includes VPN. VPN’s assume that the fixed perimeter surrounding a network is secure so once in, users have access to pretty much everything. While that may have been enough in the past, cyberattacks have evolved and the need for stronger defenses has grown.  

In this article, we will explain the differences in what a zero trust approach can offer and why an over-reliance on VPN is setting your organization’s data up for possible threats.

What is Zero Trust Security?

Zero trust security is a term used to describe security models that don’t rely on predefined trust levels. In other words, there is no assumption of trust between devices, users, applications, or data - even within the same organization.

This means that access is granted on a need-to-know basis and that every user and device is continuously verified before being given access to any data or systems. In other words, ensuring all access points are continuously vetted to protect your sensitive data.

It might sound like a bit of overkill for some companies, but with the ever-growing threat of cyberattacks, implementing zero trust security is more important than ever before.

Why are VPNs not stacking up?

Work from home has pushed the VPN model to a point where it has grown to be vastly inefficient, both in terms of the effort for scale and the associated costs.

As more of the population are working from home and using their own hardware, the need to give access to an ever-growing number of devices has become a challenge for VPNs.

The emergence of remote work has also resulted in an increased use of cloud applications, which has led to new problems. Namely that it is becoming more difficult to give employees access to the applications they need while also maintaining security.

Specific characteristics of VPNs make them unsuitable for the current technological landscape:

They show limited scope

You can’t control what users do once they’re connected to the VPN. Plus, once an attacker has connected, they gain access to the entire network, putting all the data at risk. By contrast, a zero trust security framework never offers full network access to anyone.

They perform slowly

VPNs can be very slow, especially when connecting to multiple devices, and even more so when connecting from a remote location. This can be a major issue for businesses that rely on cloud applications, as employees are less productive while waiting for slow VPN connections to load their applications.

They are resource-intensive and inefficient

VPNs require a lot of hardware and software resources to be effective. This can lead to an overuse of resources, which can impact performance and increase costs.

The assumptions around trust that are inherently built into a VPN pose a substantial security risk. With the assumption that only trusted users are accessing the information, VPN gateways publicize their IP address and device identifiers to the internet. Once breached, threat actors can navigate the network exactly like any other user.

Why zero trust is the new way forward

Zero Trust offers a better approach to security that goes against the conventions of a VPN deployment and changes the way we view access, control and security as a whole. 

Zero trust security assumes every access attempt is potentially malicious. A never trust, always verify approach which eliminates trust from an environment regardless of location. In today’s distributed work environment, there is a substantial need for this type of approach to protect sensitive data. 

Here are some of the reasons you’ll want to consider a zero trust framework for your organization:

Easier to deploy & scale

Zero trust security is much easier to deploy and scale than VPNs. You don’t need special hardware or software, and you can add or remove users and devices easily.

Users are connected for a limited amount of time

With zero trust security, there’s no need to keep users or devices connected at all times. They’re given access (which is consistently verified) to the resources they need for a limited amount of time, which reduces the risk of a data breach. 

It can avoid company networks altogether

To avoid data breaches, zero trust security connections find the most efficient routing, sometimes avoiding the company network altogether (reducing the odds that an unauthorized entity gains access to the entire network).

Its connections apply on premise and in the cloud

Zero trust security can be applied both on premise and in the cloud, giving you the flexibility to connect any number of devices and users, regardless of location. This makes it perfect for organizations switching to remote or hybrid work models.

It uses software-defined parameter to hide networks and resources

Zero trust security can use software-defined parameters to hide networks and resources, making it nearly impossible for unauthorized users to gain access. This is a major advantage over VPNs, which have historically been easier to breach.

Want to learn more about zero trust security and how it can be applied to your business communications? Book a demo to find out.

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