We've detected you might be speaking a different language. Do you want to change to:

Table of Contents

Title of article

Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) have been a main go-to solution for securing remote connections. Recent shifts in work dynamics have nonetheless exposed their limitations. Our first section emphasizes the historical role of VPNs in providing secure access to corporate data for a limited remote workforce. It then exposes concerns and evolutions in context.

To wrap up on VPN background, we will consider a variety of structural options at hand. Then only shall we name some alternatives, describing in more depth our TSplus software as well as a few others of note. Lastly, we will be able to draw conclusions on VPN alternative solutions.

Part 1: Virtual Private Networks (VPN) - Definition, Purpose and More

From a VPN's "raison d'être", through what it is and does and the purpose it can serve, to the context and structural possibilities available as an alternative, this section is dedicated to background information. We even found some advantages, disadvantages, potential issues and the like. Part 2 will then present a few key players in the VPN and alternatives field as well as detail a couple of the above-mentioned alternative structures.

VPNs - Their Role in Secure Communications

Historically, as stated, VPNs were, if not THE way to secure corporate remote connections, at least one of the main paths businesses would follow. However, the mass adoption of remote work, accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, has strained the capabilities of traditional VPNs. Moreover, those changes in habits are proving to be ongoing. Add the fact a VPN is only as secure as its entry-point to realise why an alternative to VPN is so attractive.

The surge in remote employees has sometimes led to an over-reliance on VPNs, impacting employee productivity and user experience. Additionally, the unforeseen challenges of using VPNs at such a large scale contributed to create a security nightmare for IT teams.

What a VPN does in practice is encrypt communications end-to-end and keep user-identity hidden from outside visibility. These are the two aspects which have made them such a favourite.

VPN - A Brief Definition

Let us delve into the fundamental concepts behind VPNs, elucidating how they establish private and encrypted connections over the internet, ensuring confidentiality and integrity in data transmission.

A Virtual Private Network enables a secure connection is established between a network and either a second network or a single device. It is best described as a tunnel, for which the two ends are the device or other network and the initial server or LAN.

A VPN therefore enables secure data exchanges and communication. IT provides IP invisibility, which can for instance be declined into obtaining regional content which would normally be blocked in our current location.

VPN - Chief Vulnerabilities

The way both ends establish a connection is both the source of a VPN’s strength and weakness. The “hand-shake” they exchange to establish their tunnel means anything going back and forth remains safe in the tunnel. Unfortunately, if a criminally-intent party initiates the connection or impersonates a safe device or other end-point, the now compromised tunnel will then lead the hacker or bot directly into the now wide open network at the other end of the tunnel.

And, if that were not enough, an intruder inserting themselves in between in a “Man in the Middle” attack is also a common vulnerability.

Potential Security Issues and Organizational Challenges with VPNs

Evolving Use:

As mentioned, in the contemporary landscape, where remote work is increasingly prevalent, VPN have generally played a pivotal role by facilitating secure remote access. VPNs were developed to serve as a safe bridge between remote employees and corporate networks. They securely enabled seamless access to files, applications and resources from any location.

In practice, they effectively extended a business’ LAN with great security over the unsecure path we call the Internet. But networks and the Internet have grown beyond our wildest dreams. Noticeably, IT and Internet are reaching excessive heights in size, usage and speed requirements. Consequently, issues of reduced network speed, increased complexity and plummeting performance are now concerns that hamper the usability and productivity of VPNs.

Growing External Threats:

Cyber-threats have multiplied over the past years, and the lengths and effort hackers and extortion-mongers will go to have grown exponentially. Growth in hacking, malware and other threats before the various planet-wide lockdowns seems insignificant compared to what both cyber-security organisations and companies as well as governments have reported and experienced. Exposing the entrance to a VPN will generally compromise the whole network and all its data and parts.

Ongoing Human-factor Issues:

The risks associated with insecure home networks, compromised or weak credentials still hold with a VPN, as do the challenges of securing third-party access. Some VPNs are also criticized for offering minimal security regarding traffic encryption. Last but not least, some lack any form of multi-factor authentication (MFA), leaving organizations vulnerable to attacks.

Understanding VPNs in the Remote Access Security Landscape

While VPNs offer heightened security, that is, as we have described, so long as the entry points are uncompromised. Therefore, it is imperative to remember various security considerations when whole networks, entire databases, or both, are at risk in the event of a breach. The primary factors at play in IT security where remote access is concerned are linked to unsecured end-point devices and most importantly the human factor.

Vulnerabilities, potential security breaches and the ongoing need for robust authentication mechanisms are some of the potential points of tension. Additionally, it is worth pointing out organizational challenges posed by VPNs. These include scalability and maintenance as well as a need for constant updates to thwart evolving cyber threats.

How VPNs Commonly Integrate with Other Solutions and Software

This section will explore the seamless integration of VPNs with other technological solutions, emphasizing their compatibility with diverse software and hardware infrastructures. Hence reliance in complementary security measures is essential. Likewise, it makes good sense to consistently function in tandem with firewalls, antivirus programs and other cybersecurity tools.

Just as with most IT and cyber related matter, ensuring high security is best practice. The same goes for VPNs in order to create a comprehensive defense mechanism against cyber threats. Hence, the need for a standalone full security stack at one end of every VPN connection. The alternatives below help meet the challenge of cyber-traffic control, particularly as enterprise resources move to the cloud.

Alternative Builds and Complementary Protection

To answer the concept of VPN-less remote connection products here are some builds to address the limitations of traditional VPNs. Here are some prominent complements and alternatives:

  1. Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA): ZTNA is a paradigm shift towards brokered access with added security layers. It grants access based on least-privileged principles, namely, amongst other factors: identity authentication and task-related verification.

  2. Secure Access Service Edge (SASE): This cloud-based model unifies network and security functions, providing simplified management, lower costs and increased visibility.

  3. Software-Defined Perimeter (SDP): Software-based network boundaries enhance security by using multi-factor authentication and dynamic access control.

  4. Software-Defined Wide Area Networks (SD-WANs): Replacing traditional routers with virtualized software, an SD-WAN offers flexibility, lowers costs and improves security.

  5. Identity and Access Management (IAM) and Privileged Access Management (PAM): IAM and PAM are comprehensive verification processes for user identity and privileged credentials. They reduce threats related to unauthorized access.

  6. Unified Endpoint Management (UEM) Tools: Conditional access capabilities for a VPN-less experience, UEM tools evaluate device compliance, identity information and user behavior.

  7. Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI), Remote Desktop and Desktop-as-a-Service: Virtual, remote and cloud-based solutions streamline infrastructures, providing an alternative to traditional VPNs.

These are the structural alternatives, some of which we will explore in a bit more depth. But, in case you are not starting from scratch, before deconstructing what is already in place, why not also look at alternatives that either complete or painlessly replace your current solution.

Part 2: VPN Alternatives and Competitor Solutions

The following section of this article further develops a selection of VPN alternative products ideal for meeting the needs of organizations. The likelihood is, if you are reading this, you recognize and wish implement one or more of the alternatives below, to secure your remote and hybrid infrastructure.

TSplus Remote Access text logo - grey orange Our comprehensive remote access security software - TSplus Advanced Security - logo

1. TSplus Remote Access Paired with Advanced Security

Description: TSplus Remote Access provides an intuitive and highly scalable platform for desktop and application publication, farm management and more. SSL and TLS are an integral part of TSplus software ensuring robust encryption. Complemented by TSplus Advanced Security , our solution enhances the security posture of remote desktop services, ensuring robust protection against cyber threats.

  • Purpose and Usage: As well as steady connections and efficient software, TSplus aims to provide comprehensive and robust protection for remote connections, ensuring secure access and seamless distant data transfer and access. TSplus Remote Access connects over a variety of protocols and includes full HTML5 connectivity, making it adaptable to any OS.

  • Pros and Cons:

    • Pros: High-level security features ensure data integrity and confidentiality.

    • Highly scalable through well-targeted code. Adapted from SMEs to corporate.

    • User-friendly interface facilitates easy navigation, customization and management.

    • Integrates well and TSplus teams are on hand concerning specific requirements.

    • Cons: Advanced setup may require technical expertise.

  • Top Features:

    • With Farm Management included and Server and website Monitoring and 2FA as an add-ons , TSplus Remote Access is ideal for securely managing large networks.

    • The TSplus Advanced Security Brute-force defense mechanism fortifies against unauthorized access attempts.

    • Endpoint protection ensures comprehensive security across all devices and protects in events of device or credentials theft.

    • Added to the built-in firewall , Ransomware protection shields sensitive data from malicious encryption attempts and includes a quarantine procedure .

  • Pricing: Pricing varies based on advanced features required as well as on scale of deployment. Choices also include handy Desktop, Web Mobile and Enterprise bundles which are customizable. On average, pricing is well below the market expectancy and suitable for the tightest budgets. The 15-day free trial does not require payment details.

Tor logo

2. Tor, The Onion Router

Description: Tor is a renowned free and open-source software designed to enable anonymous communication by routing internet traffic through a global network of relay servers.

  • Purpose and Usage: Tor is primarily used for anonymous web browsing and safeguarding against traffic analysis. It offers its users enhanced privacy and anonymity.

  • Pros and Cons:

    • Pros: Provides robust anonymity by encrypting and routing internet traffic through a distributed network of relays.

    • Free to use, making it accessible to a wide range of users.

    • Cons: Connection speeds can be significantly slower due to the multi-layered routing process. This makes it unsuitable for bandwidth-intensive activities such as streaming.

  • Top Features:

    • Extensive network of relay servers ensures anonymity and privacy for users.

    • Resistance to surveillance and traffic analysis enhances security and privacy protections.

  • Pricing: Tor is available for free, aligning with its commitment to accessibility and anonymity.

Shadowsocks logo

3. Shadowsocks

Description: Shadowsocks is a popular open-source encrypted proxy project, designed to bypass internet censorship and provide users with unrestricted access to online content.

  • Purpose and Usage: It is used primarily for bypassing geo-restrictions and circumventing censorship, particularly in regions with strict internet regulations.

  • Pros and Cons:

    • Pros: Effective against censorship measures, it provides users with the ability to access blocked content.

    • Highly customizable, allowing users to tailor configurations to their specific needs.

    • Cons: Requires some level of technical expertise for initial setup and configuration.

    • Does not offer the same level of privacy and security as a full-fledged VPN solution.

  • Top Features:

    • Socks5 proxy with encryption ensures secure and private communication over the internet.

    • Flexibility to be used with various applications, offering versatility in bypassing censorship measures.

  • Pricing: Shadowsocks is available for free, but users may incur costs for setting up and maintaining servers required for its operation.

4. Twingate

Description: Twingate is a cloud-based service designed to enable IT teams to configure a software-defined perimeter for their resources without the need for infrastructure changes. By centrally managing user access to internal applications, whether on-premises or in cloud environments, Twingate enhances security while ensuring ease of use.

  • Purpose and Usage: Twingate significantly reduces the organization's exposure to cyber-attacks by making the internal network invisible to the Internet. With resource-level access control, Twingate prevents hackers from accessing the entire network, even in the event of individual user or resource compromises.

  • Pros and Cons:

    • Pros: Offers robust security features and ease of use.

    • Centralized management via the Twingate controller simplifies access control.

    • Scalable solution suitable for small to large deployments.

    • Cons: May require initial setup and configuration by IT professionals.

    • Pricing structure based on per-user, per-month model.

  • Top Features:

    • Resource-level access control enhances security by preventing unauthorized access.

    • Integration with leading SSO and identity providers ensures secure authentication.

    • Split Tunneling optimizes network traffic, reducing latency for improved performance.

    • Minimal maintenance requirements and scalable from 10 to 10,000 resources.

  • Pricing: Twingate offers a per-user, per-month pricing model, with a free option supporting up to 2 users, two devices per user, and one remote network.

Perimeter81 logo

5. Perimeter 81

Description: Perimeter 81 provides a secure network as a service solution, allowing organizations to create, manage and secure their infrastructure. These can be custom and multi-regional networks connecting on-premises or cloud environments. Utilizing a software-defined perimeter architecture, Perimeter 81 enhances network visibility and flexibility while ensuring robust security.

  • Purpose and Usage: With Perimeter 81's Zero Trust Secure Network as a Service, organizations can establish internal trust boundaries and precisely control data traffic. It ensures least-privilege access to valuable corporate resources and offers compatibility with leading cloud infrastructure providers.

  • Pros and Cons:

    • Pros: Enhanced network visibility and flexibility.

    • Granular control over data traffic flow ensures robust security.

    • Compatible with leading cloud infrastructure providers.

    • Cons: Initial setup and configuration may require technical expertise.

    • Pricing structure may vary based on deployment scale and feature requirements.

  • Top Features:

    • Zero Trust Network Access provides centralized visibility and least-privilege access to corporate resources.

    • Network segmentation through trusted zones enhances security by controlling data traffic flow.

    • Security features adhere to the SASE model, converging security and network management.

  • Pricing: Pricing for Perimeter 81 varies based on deployment scale and specific feature requirements.

6. Cloudflare for Teams

Description: Cloudflare for Teams offers secure access to devices, networks, and applications through its global infrastructure. By replacing traditional network-centric security perimeters, Cloudflare for Teams ensures a faster and safer Internet experience for distributed work teams worldwide.

  • Purpose and Usage: Cloudflare provides zero-trust access to all applications in the organization, authenticating users through its global network. This enables effortless incorporation of third-party users while maintaining a record log for each access request.

  • Pros and Cons:

    • Pros: Offers zero-trust access to applications, enhancing security and privacy.

    • Built-in firewall protects users from malware infections.

    • High speed, reliability, and scalability provided by Cloudflare's global network.

    • Cons: Initial setup and configuration may require adaptation to new workflows.

    • Pricing structure may vary based on deployment scale and feature requirements.

  • Top Features:

    • Cloudflare Access provides secure access to resources, similar to a VPN, while Cloudflare Gateway serves as a firewall protecting against malware infections.

    • Built on Cloudflare's global network, which ensures high speed, reliability and scalability for even the largest organizations.

  • Pricing: Cloudflare for Teams offers Free, Standard and Enterprise plans, with pricing tailored to each case.

7. Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA)

Description: First of the alternative structures worth detailing in of their own right: ZTNA is a security concept requiring verification from everything that tries to connect to its systems before granting any access.

  • Purpose and Usage: Used to provide secure access to private applications and data, implementing the principle of least privilege.

  • Pros and Cons:

    • Pros: Enhanced security through constant verification.

    • Adaptable to various environments.

    • Cons: Can be complex to implement and manage.

  • Top Features:

    • Identity verification.

    • Least-privilege user access.

  • Pricing: Depends on the specific ZTNA solution provider.

8. Secure Access Service Edge (SASE)

Description: Second alternative structure worth detailing in its own right: SASE is a cloud-based model combining network and security functions into a single architecture service.

  • Purpose and Usage: It unifies security and network functionalities to provide secure, fast network access.

  • Pros and Cons:

    • Pros: Simplified management.

    • Improved security.

    • Cons: Relies heavily on cloud infrastructure, which might not suit all organizations.

  • Top Features:

    • Network and security integration.

    • Cloud-native architecture.

  • Pricing: Variable based on service provider and organizational needs.

9. Software-Defined Perimeter (SDP)

Description: Third and final alternative structure worth detailing in itself: SDP is a security framework that controls access to resources based on identity and focuses on the concept of "need-to-know".

  • Purpose and Usage: It is used to create secure network environments for cloud, on-premise, and hybrid systems.

  • Pros and Cons:

    • Pros: Enhanced security through identity-based access.

    • Cons: May require significant infrastructure changes.

  • Top Features:

    • Multi-factor authentication.

    • Network segmentation and access control.

  • Pricing: Pricing varies depending on the provider and scale of implementation.

Part 3: Comparative Analysis of these VPN Alternative Solutions

In comparing TSplus with competitor alternatives to VPN, several distinguishing factors emerge, according to differing business needs and security requirements. Zero trust takes a forefront, whether in name, in practice or both, as do similar methods of network access and authorisation management.

Security and Usability in VPN Alternatives

While Tor and Shadowsocks prioritize anonymity and bypassing censorship, TSplus Remote Access prioritizes security and usability. TSplus Advanced Security makes sure the security is flawless on all levels. On the whole, Tor’s principal disadvantage is its lessened speed, due to the high security layering. Shadowsocks, on the other hand, requires a level of expertise (and therefore time) which few businesses can actually afford. It is clear comprehensive security features required by businesses for remote access and data protection entail an investment.

Gradual Implementation and the Human Touch

Similarly, the possibilities offered above grant solid cyber security, whether in-house or cloud-based. Both Twingate or CloudFlare are cloud-based, as is Perimeter 81. These varyingly lean upon SDP and ZTN structure to provide secure environments. As is often the case, new technologies require gradual implementation. And this is true with or without testing and prerequisite IT skill. Nonetheless, some provide better backup from their teams, which is part of the human touch provided by TSplus. This takes the lead beyond granular rules and authorisations. Indeed, nothing so smoothly enables clients in the transition to securing their networks as does professional knowledge and support from on-hand staff.

Building VPN Alternatives - from Scratch or Tailor-made

More structural solutions as the SDP, SASE and ZTNA builds and protocols bring their own batch of advantages and constraints. The solutions above take these moving parts and apply them with their added developer knowledge, providing fully-fledged products with less requirements. Indeed, the need for IT skill, knowledge and time is back with a vengeance when most businesses consider these “bare-bones” possibilities. Nonetheless, whether these three paths are for you or not, you now know where other software and/or services are rooted.

Developing Simple Tools to Apply Great Technology

In this light, TSplus Advanced Security offers a comprehensive solution for enhancing the security posture of remote desktop services. Indeed, TSplus aims to offer a simple approach to VPN alternatives thanks its secure remote access.

Compounded with the specific user, group, application access choices which give clients need-to-know and as-and-when authorisation, here is a recipe for all-round data security. Its brute-force defense mechanism and ransomware protection also provide added layers of security, ensuring the integrity and confidentiality of corporate data.

Consequently, through the options on its admin console, TSplus Remote Access provides granular control over access to internal company applications and data. So much so, it competes with zero-trust access when applied with due attention and planning.

Intuitive Granular Control Yet Robust All-round Security

All-in-all, TSplus Remote Access stands out for its intuitive interface, robust security features and scalability. Unlike traditional VPN solutions, TSplus offers a seamless remote access experience with minimal setup and maintenance requirements. It includes certain valuable security features in and of itself. Yet, when you add the extra weight of TSplus Advanced Security in the balance they boast distinct advantages over VPN. These range from endpoint protection and ransomware defense and ensure comprehensive protection against cyber threats.

To Conclude on VPN Alternative Products – a Question of Security

In conclusion, the choice between TSplus and its competitors depends on a range of factors. While alternative solutions like Twingate, Perimeter 81, and Cloudflare for Teams may better suit certain organizations, TSplus offers a comprehensive remote access and security suite tailored for businesses with unique security and infrastructure requirements. Whatever the size, TSplus software has proved scalable, and with highly professional dedicated sales and support teams available in case of need. Ultimately, organizations will evaluate their priorities and budget, then select the solution that best aligns with their security objectives and operational goals.

Related Posts

back to top of the page icon