Five Compelling Reasons to Replace Your Enterprise VPN

Replace Enterprise VPN

In today's rapidly changing digital landscape, where remote work has become the new standard and cybersecurity threats are ever evolving, it is imperative for companies to adapt their infrastructure to prioritize productivity, efficiency, and most importantly, security. One essential component of a modern organization's technology stack has been the Virtual Private Network (VPN).

Recently, the risks of relying on an Enterprise VPN have become more apparent. On January 31, Ivanti announced new vulnerabilities in their Ivanti Connect Secure and Ivanti Policy Secure gateways. And they’re not alone.  Fortinet recently announced an exploitation in the FortiOS SSL VPN and Cisco announced a breach of its Cisco Adaptive Security Appliance SSL VPNs in June, to name a few.

In a 2023 report, Zscaler found that nearly 50% of responding companies reported they had been targeted by malicious actors via VPN vulnerabilities.

With security top of mind, let us take a closer look at what makes the VPN vulnerable and other reasons why you may consider replacing yours.

1. Exploitable Security Protocols

With the rise of cyberattacks such as data breaches, ransomware, and phishing, companies need more robust security tools to guard sensitive data.

The vulnerability of the traditional VPN security structure can be demonstrated in what has been described as the castle-and-moat model. To extend the metaphor, no subjects outside your castle have access to your treasure, or data. But once they gain entry across your digital drawbridge, they have full reign of the castle grounds (i.e., your network and all the data inside).

2. Performance Issues

Legacy VPNs are notoriously prone to latency and often exhibit unreliable connectivity, especially when accessed during peak usage hours or from remote locations. Such scenarios have become increasingly common in today’s hybrid and remote work landscape.

Since VPNs are reliant on public internet, this mass data transfer puts great strain on an organization’s wide area network (WAN), creating a frustrating user experience and sacrificing application performance.

3. Scalability Challenges

Due to the growing adoption of hybrid work models, organizations need scalable solutions that can easily accommodate an increasingly remote workforce. Companies need the flexibility to grow their teams and enable additional connectivity options.

The scaling limitations of legacy VPNs leave growing organizations little choice but to switch to a different solution. These scalable alternatives include newer technologies such as Zero Trust Networks Access (ZTNA), Secure Services Edge (SSE) and Software-Defined Wide Area Networking (SD-WAN), which allow organizations to achieve greater visibility and flexibility managing their network infrastructure.

4. Third Party Access

Many organizations that work with partners, suppliers and/or contractors, will run into issues using a traditional VPN, especially when those third parties need network access. Some partners may have their own security requirements and won’t be willing to install a VPN on their devices, and those who are bring their own potential risk to your network.

Many organizations do not vet their partners and contractors with the same scrutiny as their employees. But with a legacy VPN, all parties will have access to the organization’s network, including business critical assets. There’s no guarantee the third party is familiar with your security protocols, leaving room for human error. Even worse, a third party’s device could act as a backdoor entry point into your network for bad actors. A 2023 CyberSecurity Insider report showed this is a concern for 90% of organizations.

5. Lack of Granularity

Legacy VPNs often lack the granular application and user level controls or reporting required to protect modern enterprises from bad actors Anyone with network access through your VPN has access to all data and applications on that network. For many organizations, this is not a desirable structure. This is not only a concern for working with third parties. There may be data you only want available to specific teams. Employee records, payroll documents, company financial statements, and various user credentials are just a few examples of critical assets that could be left unprotected. Without least-privilege access, you’re forced to trust every user indiscriminately, leaving your organization open to human vulnerability.

All these weaknesses create risk for your organization, from frustrating user experiences to IT support tickets to worst of all - critical security breaches. This is driving companies towards new technologies that offer greater flexibility and security, like ZTNA, SSE and SD-WAN.

Be on the lookout for our next blog post in a few weeks and our upcoming webinar and demo, Unified SASE Secures Modern Work on March 19th at 10am ET to explore these alternatives to the enterprise VPN.