Virtual private networks, or VPNs, offer a convenient technology solution for some computer users. With VPNs, users can create private, encrypted “virtual networks,” which are more secure than standard open networks and also provide a measure of anonymity.
For example, one of the most common uses of VPNs is for global users to disguise a VPN as an American network and sign up for American versions of services that may differ from their local offerings. Similarly, using VPNs to fool a computer into believing the user is in another location unlocks different pricing tiers and schemes for airfare, resulting in paying lower airfare if an online vendor believes a user resides in one country versus another.
However, while this anonymity and extra level of control do provide additional cybersecurity, according to TechTarget Network, VPNs are still a less secure option to new protocols such as SDPs and zero-trust networks.
What Is An SDP?
SDP stands for software-defined perimeter. A typical network defines its “border” or “perimeter” through hardware. Printers, phones, security cameras, and even appliances are all detectable hardware that can be discovered and used to define and attack the perimeter of a network. A software-defined perimeter or SDP is like software “invisibility,” that hides all the hardware aspects of a network, rendering them invisible to conventional means of network detection.
As a result, typical cybersecurity threats such as server scanning, SQL injection, and denial of service are largely negated because these techniques can’t see or exploit an SDP. This is a big differentiator from a normal VPN, which, while encrypted, still runs on normal, unencrypted networks that are vulnerable to conventional cybersecurity attacks.
The Zero Trust Difference
In older cybersecurity practices, one verification is typically required at the beginning of a session and, once authenticated, grants full access. “Zero-Trust networks,” however, work on a different philosophy. Multiple authentications can be required for various interactions, and access to other parts of a network is often very limited, mitigating the amount of damage an unauthorized user can inflict, even if barriers to entry are bypassed.
This combination ensures that an SDP with a zero-trust network protocol is much more secure than a VPN alone. However, an SDP system is flexible enough to accommodate VPNs within its own network, adding even greater layers of cybersecurity for those needing it.
These measures and others, such as FIDO technologies that use passwordless authentication systems, are improving security, and you can read here to learn more.