ZTNA vs VPN: Which One Is Superior?

25 November 2022

ZTNA vs VPN: Which One Is Superior?

Have you ever faced the dilemma of choosing between ZTNA vs VPN for organizational needs? Let's first examine each of the advantages.

VPNs were introduced more than 30 years ago to provide access to endpoints configured on local area networks (LANs) over the internet. Once users are granted access, they can access anything on the network with guaranteed privacy.

ZTNA, on the other hand, provides remote access to individual applications or services based on granular access control policies. It implements Zero Trust security principles and continuously monitors user activity during user sessions, demanding periodic reauthentication or while the connection is idle for some time.

VPNs in Organizations

Enterprise VPNs are designed to provide secure remote access to LAN endpoints. This technology is commonly used for remote desktop access to employees' office computers. VPNs use encrypted point-to-point (P2P) or "tunnel" connections to protect internal endpoint IP addresses from being exposed publicly while still allowing direct connections.

Common VPN Protocols :

- IPSec/IKEv2

- IPSec/L2TP

- OpenVPN

- Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol (PPTP)

A more sophisticated VPN implementation allows it to be used to bridge ethernet to securely connect to multiple corporate LANs into a single wide-area network (WAN). This allows multiple corporate locations to share access to on-premises resources and avoid separate corporate networks.

ZTNA in Organizations

Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA) enables secure remote access to individual internal applications and includes context-based access control technology. ZTNA provides a secure authentication process and limits the tools available to attackers who have compromised remote access services.

ZTNA provides access through the access broker's security agent. The agent not only verifies the user's identity, context, and policy compliance, but also requires periodic reauthentication for extra security. ZTNA implements an adaptive trust model, where trusts are never implied, and access is granted based on the smallest privileges defined by granular policies. ZTNA access brokers can also assess connection context, including device security posture and client geolocation, and may require multi-factor or biometric authentication.

What's the Difference Between ZTNA and VPN?

Unlike VPNs, which provide direct tunnel access to endpoints on corporate LANs, ZTNA only provides access to explicitly authorized applications and services. The primary purpose of ZTNA is not to prevent exposure of internal IP addresses from specific resources, but to provide granular access control to the service with continuous monitoring of connection behavior and context-aware reauthentication aligned with Zero Trust principles.

While ZTNA's current technology does not allow bridging two separate enterprise LANs into WANs, it allows applications and resources to be hosted in the Cloud, enabling remote connections from anywhere.

A more sophisticated VPN implementation allows it to be used to bridge ethernet to securely connect to multiple corporate LANs into a single wide-area network (WAN). This allows multiple corporate locations to share access to on-premises resources and avoid separate corporate networks.

Which is Better: VPN or ZTNA?

VPN connections are "all or nothing", giving full access to the internal endpoint and all of its built-in tools, which poses a risk. VPNs also lack strong authentication controls and visibility to monitor user behavior on endpoints.

ZTNA is better suited than a VPN to secure access to an organization's internal resources by enabling granular control over which applications can be accessed and by implementing Zero Trust-based authentication technology. ZTNA continuously monitors user activity during and after connecting without exposing to the internal network.

So, have you been able to make a choice between ZTNA vs VPN? Consult your needs with Telkom DWS!

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