It is Time to Retire Your Legacy VPN and Move to a Software Defined Perimeter (SDP)

For almost 20 years, organizations have depended on VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) to enable secure remote access for remote employees or third parties.  While VPNs have served us all well, it is time to evolve beyond them.  They are showing their age, in that they do not fully address the security threats we all now face.  In the new security landscape workers are often remote, threats are just as likely to be inside the perimeter as outside, and the applications and data are likely in the cloud.  Given the changes required to adapt, your existing VPN vendor cannot evolve their technology to meet these new requirements. What is needed is not evolution, but an actual leap to a new approach — A Software Defined Perimeter (SDP) is that new approach. 

The good news is that while SDP is a big leap in terms of the level of security, deploying it is a short hop. With a small investment in time, resources, and money, you can have SDP protecting everything your current VPN does, but better, as detailed, below.  Given this new generation of secure access technology along with the recent increase in remote work, it is time for your organization to leverage the advantages of moving to SDP by migrating from your legacy VPN to SDP.  Let’s review the advantages.

Advantages of Software Defined Perimeter (SDP)

SDP is an approach to cybersecurity based on the Zero Trust Model as espoused by the Cloud Security Alliance (CSA). SDP works to provide the same user experience to those on-premise or beyond a network’s perimeter while granting access to only the resources users need.

Next generation VPN benefits of SDP include the following:

  • Provides a Zero Trust/least privilege model—authorize then connect
  • Mutual TLS using a provided PKI
  • No ports open for public snooping/hacking
  • Micro segmentation—a segment of one
  • Policy-based configuration ensures users can only access specific resources
  • Integrates with your existing Identity Access Mechanism (SAML/AD/LDAP)
  • No additional hardware or network integration required
  • Consistent user experience on premise or off
  • Lightweight client requires no end user configuration
  • Control access whether applications are on premise or in the cloud
  • Provides additional security without additional throughput degradation
  • Additional security without significantly more expense

SDP vs VPN — SDP Offers More

As the list above details, SDP provides not only all the features of a current generation VPN but also solutions to many disadvantages of VPN. It is worth expanding on a few of these advantages of SDP.

  • Invisible - Given the nature of current generation VPNs, they are open to attack through the public internet. As mentioned previously, SDP helps eliminate this problem using its technique of leaving ports blocked and encrypting all traffic.
  • Easier to Manage - While current generation VPNs can achieve similar results through user-based access policy, the results are often less flexible and tedious to put into place and maintain. With SDP, on the other hand, native integration with SAML, LDAP, or Active Directory can permit you to make changes to group membership and immediately impact the access policies for users in your existing Identity Access Management solution.
  • Consistent/Better User Experience - SDP is designed to be used all the time by users, whether on site or remote.  As such, it provides a consistent user experience. After the initial download, the user experience to log on will be same as it was prior to SDP implementation.  You will simply see the SDP client as an icon in your system tray, which the user can pull up to see their authorized applications.
  • Automated Checks - SDP can constantly enforce device security policies such as requiring antivirus to be enabled and up to date, ensuring media is encrypted, and the operating system is patched.  These device checks ensure compliance policies are automatically followed, or else the device is disconnected, not only increasing security and privacy, but helping avoid fines.
  • Scalability and Availability - Traditional VPNs typically run on dedicated hardware that can be costly to license and maintain.  SDP runs as a virtual appliance that can be easily scaled horizontally to both ensure availability and provide additional scalability.
  • Bandwidth - In the most common configurations, SDP bandwidth performance beats a traditional VPN.  There are a couple of reasons for this potential performance improvement:   Where possible, SDP uses User Datagram Protocol (UDP), a Transport Layer protocol, which tends to be faster than TCP (Transmission Control Protocol).  In addition, SDP can be set up to only route traffic for the specific resources that a user should access through the gateway.
  • Granular Control - One last advantage, current VPNs do not directly address granular application and resource security. Once you are on remotely, you have broad access to resources within the perimeter. This means that if a user’s VPN password is phished, the attacker has that same broad access. SDP helps protect applications and data against such attacks by preventing lateral access to resources—a user only has access to a very narrow set of resources, and with SDPs ability to authenticate access with MFA before permitting the connection to resources, there are multiple levels of protection. The result is enhanced application and data access security for internal wired and wireless-based network perimeter devices.

OPSWAT offers an SDP with all the benefits mentioned above.  It can be deployed alongside your existing VPN in less than an hour and immediately open the door for you to start leveraging the advantages of a next generation VPN. 

 Contact OPSWAT to learn more.

Tags: SDP
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