Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) are wildly popular. More than 26% of all internet users rely on a VPN service of some kind.

VPNs will often promote themselves as the best tool to protect your privacy online, and they’re also useful if you want to stream blocked content or perform geo-tests on your website and ad campaigns.

But when it comes to securing your computer and network, it’s just not up to the task. Using a VPN can create a false sense of security and cause you or your employees to throw caution to the wind, potentially leaving a significant gap in your perimeter defence due to carelessness.

How a VPN Works

A VPN works by creating an encrypted tunnel to another computer or network. For remote employees, this means they can access private company servers.

While VPNs are useful for encrypting your communications, such as company data, internet history, it’s not enough of a security barrier to protect against serious threats.

That’s not to say VPNs don’t provide any protection at all. A VPN service will probably be sufficient protection if your definition of cybersecurity is solely stopping hackers from intercepting data.

But if you’re looking to prevent serious threats such as malicious code injections, malware, viruses, and worms, you’ll need a comprehensive network security solution.

B2Bs Are Moving Towards SASE

Anyone who works in the cybersecurity sphere knows that it’s not a stable industry. Things rapidly change as technologies, loopholes, attack methods, and many more variables inevitably cause a shift in the landscape.

The global pandemic caught most companies off-guard as Governments started lock-downs, forcing organizations to scramble their workforce into a fully functioning remote workforce.

And regardless of the pandemic, companies have slowly decentralized their structure, as corporations opened branches scattered around the world. The idea of a closed-perimeter defense keeps eroding into irrelevance as it loses the ability to maintain critical assets such as data safe.

According to Gartner, the latest evolution in the cybersecurity market is SASE, Secure Access Service Edge (pronounced ‘sassy’). It’s still reasonably unknown but is quickly gaining traction in the B2B marketplace.

A Shift in the Cybersecurity Market

We’ve seen a significant increase in the number of remote workers, mobile users, decentralized branch officers, cloud resources, and external data centers and services located off-site, outside the traditional security perimeter.

And organizations are struggling to handle the many security services required from multiple vendors. IT security teams are forced to manage all the different software and hardware requirements for firewalls, VPN remote access, web gateways, and SD-WAN, to name just a few.

Each product needs to be installed, configured, and policies created. Not to mention the administrative burden of handling each set of logs and managing each user’s profile.

What is SASE?

Based on the cloud architecture model, SASE delivers a unified cloud security platform and network management system under one console.

It combines multiple network security functions such as SWG, CASB, FWaaS, and ZTNA, plus supports all edges such as SD-WAN, WAN, mobile, and IoT.

On the ground, this means IT professionals can enjoy a more agile and holistic approach to their organization’s security, without relying on the combination of many different software and hardware tools from multiple vendors.

And because SASE is much less reliant on hardware and physical appliances, it’s a far superior alternative for remote workers. Allowing safer and easier access to cloud-based resources no matter the user’s location, with the added caveat that it can scale quickly by a growing organization.

Replacing VPN with SASE

Why would anyone want to replace a VPN with SASE?

  • When remote and mobile workers need a secure encrypted connection to the organization’s office or to access sensitive data, they rely on VPNs. They can be a clientless VPN, remote access VPN, IPsec VPN to SLL, or another type of VPN service.
  • But VPNs are not optimized for accessing the cloud, which can mean reduced security levels in order to grant access to remote users. In some cases, VPN users cannot access the organization’s private cloud where the data center is.
  • And more and more companies are storing data in the cloud and relying on cloud-based services such as Salesforce, which can be critical to a user’s workflow.
  • Finally, remote access VPNs require that user traffic is backhauled to data centers, which often creates latency, slow speeds, and frustration.

A SASE solution, which includes VPN tunneling, allows users to access data and operate accordingly in a cloud-based network, reach private cloud applications, and create specific site-to-site connections for any IPsec-compatible device.

SASE Cloud VPN Use Cases

If your organization still needs a VPN, a SASE cloud VPN allows you to maintain and secure your private cloud resources, encrypt traffic, and be used in a number of different scenarios.

  1. With the increased level of employees using their personal devices such as laptops and mobile phones for work, cloud VPN allows an organization to encrypt and secure online traffic
  2. IP whitelisting enables organizations to segment permitted IP addresses to access specific cloud resources
  3. Perform an international QA of your website, ad campaigns, or otherwise act as if you’re in a different location
  4. Bypass content blockers and freely access applications, VoIP services such as Skype, and WhatsApp.
  5. Create a secure connection when using unsecured Wi-Fi

Zero Trust Network Access – Alternative Solution to VPN

VPNs simply weren’t built for the security and scalability many companies need today. An alternative approach is the Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA). It allows remote workers to reach the organization’s apps no matter where they are, whether they’re flying to sales meetings across the country, or working in a local coffee shop.

With ZTNA, when an employee attempts to access the network or an application, they’re automatically authenticated and verified each time they connect. There are many ZTNA providers who offer non-disruptive integration solutions.

Final Words

If Gartner is to be believed, standalone cybersecurity solutions will slowly become a thing of the past, as more and more security vendors move away from traditional security appliances and either build their own SASE solution, or merge with an existing SASE company creating new partnerships between network vendors, security vendors, and identity vendors.

The unification of multiple software systems into one cloud-based entity isn’t something new. Look no further than Office 365 and Google Suit.

It will probably take some time before the industry realizes the significant benefits SASE can bring to their organization as alternative cybersecurity and network security solution.