VPN: A Fallacious Cyber Threat Countermeasure?

VPN: A Fallacious Cyber Threat Countermeasure?

Virtual Private Network (VPN) offers a reliable way to ensure the privacy and security of the IT network. It conceals the IP address, lets the users unblock the website, and encrypts the web browsing history.

However, businesses must understand that a VPN is not the universal cyber threat countermeasure and consider its limitations despite its eye-catching benefits. Recognizing and valuing the limits can help companies make meaningful decisions that align with online security and privacy. Here are some pitfalls of VPNs that businesses must be aware of.

No Complete Anonymity

VPNs cannot guarantee a user’s online anonymity and can still reveal the identity in numerous ways it cannot control. Once a user has logged in, a VPN may not be able to cease the cyber attacker’s monitoring activities. Attackers store and track the details about a user, like a name and geographic location, which is vital to identify the user despite the trackers and cookies that the website utilizes. More importantly, browsers store minute pieces of information, which the attackers can leverage to create a fingerprint that readily reveals the online presence even when using a VPN.

Businesses must pair the VPN with reliable private browsers to increase anonymity while utilizing anonymous search engines while carefully controlling online behavioral patterns.

Offers an Inaccurate Sense of Security

Internet browsing exposes users to malicious websites, data breaches, and phishing attacks. While VPNs offer a supplementary security layer of privacy and security by data encryption and IP address concealment, they are still not the ultimate countermeasure. Encryption is a crucial VPN feature; however, not all solutions offer solid encryption. If businesses utilize unreliable and free services, the extent of encryption might reduce or diminish completely, leading to identity exposure.

Furthermore, users must ensure not to access anonymous links even in the presence of a premium version. The network is compromised when a malicious and questionable link is accessed. Therefore, businesses must employ additional ways to ensure online protection, such as creating strong passwords and amending them regularly.

At the same time, using antivirus and not using public Wi-Fi are the other countermeasures.

Restricts Access to Some Websites and Storage of VPN Logs

Businesses subscribe to a VPN service primarily to bypass geographically restricted content. However, it is worth understanding that the data is limited to what VPN users can watch, while websites restrict access to comply with rules and regulations. Therefore, it is essential to ensure this when using a VPN, as some websites block its connections which might restrict businesses from procuring the data.

Furthermore, businesses must be cautious when selecting a VPN provider and ensure they do not track and monitor online activities. It encrypts and protects the data that travels through its server to protect online privacy. This ensures that the internet service provider does not track the action. However, users hand over the online data to the provider. While the services claim not to log or track the movements, confirming is challenging. Therefore, it is essential to consider this factor when selecting a VPN provider.

Top-notch VPNs are Expensive

The primary way to overcome most challenges is to purchase good quality VPN solutions. Free VPNs services may not deliver the same level of reliability and security as top-quality ones, and businesses must avoid these to maintain solid data privacy. Simultaneously, free VPN services store logs with a high likeability of data sharing with third parties. They also offer minimal bandwidth, server options, and speed. On the contrary, a top-notch paid version provides an accelerated and secure connection, better speed, and ready access to numerous server locations.

Productivity and Latency Issues

VPNs disrupt the IT team and end-user productivity. Maintaining and managing the servers and technical issue troubleshooting can be time-consuming and lengthy. At the same time, end-users face difficulties while navigating the interface leading to decreasing trust in the technology. Performance issues like recurrent disconnections and decelerated connections lead to reduced employee engagement. Additionally, latency is a critical issue that can cause poor audio-visuals hindering productivity and morale of the employees. Latency occurs due to the physical distance between the server, the number of connected users, and internet speed. These factors contribute to weak employee performance.

Offers No Protection from Malware or Phishing Attacks

Not efficiently understanding the VPN limits can lead to the fallacious impression that hacks cannot occur. Although it offers protection from eavesdropping and man-in-the-middle (MITM) attacks, they are not the ultimate solution to protect businesses from every possible cyber-attack.

More importantly, it will not entirely secure the devices against common malware like viruses, ransomware, and spyware. However, it claims to have easily prevented malicious code injections during MITM attacks. As per a recent report by Zscalar, “2022 VPN Risk Report”, 78% of companies are concerned about ransomware. Simultaneously, businesses are susceptible to social engineering attacks like phishing scams even when VPNs are enabled. Therefore, users must be careful before accessing the links and what they download.

Also Read: Robust Cyber Hygiene Practices Businesses Need to Follow

VPNs are Cavities in the Network Perimeter

The VPN is a liability than an asset in modern digital infrastructure. Business networks built on internal servers and resources follow a rule allowing users only to access these assets inside the perimeter, enforced by validating whether the user is within and connected directly to the network’s organization. This would prompt the network to assume that everything is safe from within and grant access. As the requirement for asset connections from outside the parameter arose, VPNs granted users access by treating them as insiders. The NIST (the National Institute of Standards and Technology) cautions against VPNs since the existing tunnels implicitly force the network to trust with little or no chance of revoking access.

Businesses must understand the potential limitations to make informed decisions that best align with online privacy and security requirements. With top-notch VPNs, the efficiencies exceed the challenges. Therefore, a reliable VPN protects online identity and confidential business data.

As per a recent report by Zscalar, “2022 VPN Risk Report”, 65% of businesses are deemed to adopt VPN alternatives, while 80% are progressing towards zero trust adoption.

Organizations must implement cloud-based protection for mobile-friendly traffic vectoring and filtering that does not affect modern applications, irrespective of the device.

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