Coming out of the pandemic, remote work has become a staple in many organizations. As employees – and oftentimes unwanted guests – try to connect to the corporate network for applications and data, it is essential that companies implement effective security measures to limit and control access to their networks. Two popular technologies that have been helpful in achieving this are Zero Trust Access and Virtual Private Networks (VPNs). However, while both technologies are used to secure networks, there are some significant differences between them. In this blog, we will discuss the difference between the two and how they can benefit businesses.
Zero Trust Access vs VPN
When it comes to securing the corporate network, there are 4 core differences between Zero Trust and VPNs namely; their approach to security, the level of control over access, their verification mechanism, and the flexibility provided.
One major difference between Zero Trust Access and VPN is the approach to security. VPNs rely on network perimeter security and provide remote access to the entire network. VPNs assume that the user’s device is trusted and create a secure, encrypted tunnel between the user’s device and the corporate network. This allows them access to all resources on the network.
On the other hand, Zero Trust Access operates on the principle of “never trust, always verify,” and assumes that attackers are already on the network. It ensures that every request to access a network is verified, regardless of whether it originates from inside or outside the network. This means that even if a user gains access to the network, they only have access to the resources that they are authorized to access.
Another significant difference is the level of access control provided by each technology. VPNs provide remote access to a network, but they do not offer granular control over user access. Once a user is connected to the network, they have access to all resources on the network.
On the other hand, Zero Trust Access provides granular control over user access. This means that access to resources is based on a user’s role and their specific needs, ensuring that users only have access to the resources that they need to do their job. This approach to security reduces the risk of data breaches and limits the damage that an attacker can do in case of a successful attack.
Verification is also an area where Zero Trust Access and VPN differ significantly. VPNs rely on a user’s login credentials to grant access to the network, assuming that the user’s device is trusted once they are authenticated. This approach creates a potential security risk as attackers can gain access to the network using compromised login credentials or by exploiting vulnerabilities in the VPN software.
However, Zero Trust Access relies on several technologies, such as multi-factor authentication, encryption, and micro-segmentation, to provide secure access to networks.
Flexibility is another area where Zero Trust Access and VPN differ. VPNs allow users to access resources on the network from anywhere, but they are limited in terms of device type and location.
On the other hand, Zero Trust Access is more flexible, allowing users to access resources from anywhere and on any device if they meet the verification criteria. This flexibility makes it easier for businesses to adopt a remote work model without compromising on security.
Benefits of Zero Trust Access
Zero Trust Access provides several benefits to businesses:
- Enhanced Security: Zero Trust Access provides a multi-layered security approach, which ensures that only authorized users with verified devices and secure applications can access the network.
- Granular Access Control: Zero Trust Access provides granular access control, which means that it only allows access to the resources that the user needs to perform their job.
- Increased Flexibility: Zero Trust Access is more flexible than VPN, which allows users to access resources from anywhere and on any device if they meet the verification criteria.
Benefits of VPN
VPN provides the following benefits to businesses:
- Remote Access: VPN allows remote workers to access the company’s network as if they were physically present in the office.
- Encryption: VPN encrypts all traffic between the user’s device and the company’s network, ensuring that no one can intercept the data.
In conclusion, both Zero Trust Access and VPN provide secure access to the company’s network, but they have different approaches to security. Zero Trust Access is a security model that assumes that everything outside the network is untrusted and provides granular access control. VPN, on the other hand, relies on network perimeter security and provides remote access to the entire network. Businesses should choose the technology that best suits their needs, keeping in mind the benefits and drawbacks of each.