A changing network environment with added complexity is challenging the effectiveness of VPNs for cyber security.Enterprises have long relied on virtual private networks (VPNs) as the backbone of their cyber security plans, supporting branch location and mobile device traffic accessing data at the company headquarters. While VPNs still outpace the public Internet in terms of security, they are no longer the ideal solution and are becoming cumbersome in supporting current technology.

The backhaul connection design of VPNs is creating a more complex network management environment, and the number of remote and mobile office staff — each requiring individual VPN tunnels — further complicates the configurations necessary to support cyber security.

VPNs require users to carry the responsibility for security. While VPNs increase network security, they still require advanced threat protection to be deployed on top of the VPN to ensure that any traffic moving into the network is secure. For example, an employee working on a personal laptop is using an unsecured device to interact with the network. If that laptop is already infected with malware, once the employee has successfully logged into the company network, they’ve introduced that malware to the network.

The threat demonstrates the responsibility that IT is forced to relinquish to users to protect the network because VPNs don’t distinguish between devices, but instead offer access to users with the right credentials. Even when an enterprise distributes mobile devices to be used exclusively for business, they are still relying on employees to follow those restrictions, and Shadow IT can quickly compromise network security.

As real-time applications are adopted, VPN performance lags. There are performance issues with VPNs related to the time it takes to authenticate a user before they are granted access, and those issues become more pronounced when examining mobile user response times. As enterprises adopt more real-time applications and interactive technology, VPNs will reveal more performance issues. VPNs are ideal for low-latency, high-reliability traffic, but as those priorities shift, VPNs will have more problems.

Increasing complexity is driving up the cost of VPNs. In order to implement a VPN for an enterprise network, IT must manage a variety of protocols, equipment and service providers. And as networks grow, that complexity only increases. Enterprises that keep purchasing additional capacity and the necessary multi-protocol label switching (MPLS) lines necessary to keep a VPN effective can find it to be too costly.

The flood of additional devices is not going to slow down, and enterprises need to change their approach to network cyber security, choosing technology that provides improved visibility and streamlined management and troubleshooting in the event of a suspected breach. VPNs only offer baseline security protection, and may eventually disappear from enterprise network security.

SimpleWAN offers enterprise solutions for network security. Contact us to discuss alternatives to VPNs that offer centralized visibility and management, streamlined branch provisioning and reduced costs.