Elevating Your Network VPN Solution

In today’s IT landscape, technologies quickly become obsolete. Consider the traditional use of VPNs. Using a legacy VPN is akin to dining at an all-you-can-eat buffet, where access is granted to everything once connected to the corporate network, much like being able to visit every food station. However, this approach does not align with the principles of a zero-trust environment, which emphasizes granting remote access based on the principle of least privilege. 

Just as online retailers tailor the shopping experience for each customer, every remote access user also needs a personalized experience. For example, Susan may require access to more applications than Bob, while Bob needs higher privileges for his assigned resources. The challenge lies in accommodating their distinct needs without over-provisioning resources for one or overly restricting access for the other. It is a dilemma that has plagued enterprises that rely on traditional VPN solutions.  

Shortcomings of Legacy VPN 

Traditional VPNs, while successful in connecting users to corporate networks in the past, exhibited significant vulnerabilities: 

  • Legacy VPNs provided users with broad network access, elevating the risk of lateral movement attacks following a compromise of user credentials. 
  • Users frequently face compulsory full VPN tunneling that routes all internet traffic through the corporate network that may be thousands of miles away, causing avoidable latency.  
  • The operation of many VPN clients demanded manual user intervention. 
  • Certain security-conscious remote locations implemented restrictions against VPN usage. 
  • Legacy VPNs were challenged by limited scalability, leading to difficulties in handling increased remote work demand, which in turn cause performance bottlenecks and compromised user experiences. 
Security Concerns 

Although VPNs are designed to secure remote connections, the irony is that legacy VPN solutions may open the door to security attacks. Many do not support multifactor authentication, which is mandatory today for any remote authentication environment. This vulnerability enables attackers to scan for VPN appliances and firewalls online, identify the company’s gateway and initiate relentless brute force attacks. If successful, these attacks could pose significant challenges for the security team. 

While full tunneling compromises performance by routing all traffic through the corporate network, split tunneling poses its own risks by potentially exposing the corporate network through the user’s device that can then serve as a conduit for attacks. Remote workers often connect from locations that lack enterprise security measures, potentially exposing them to unfiltered internet threats at their local endpoints while accessing the corporate network.  

The Failure to Transition 

The reliance of traditional VPN solutions on RADIUS and legacy Active Directory (AD) poses a significant constraint in an era where organizations are progressively shifting towards Azure AD and other cloud service environments. In addition, some older VPN solutions do not mesh well with modernized security operation centers (SOCs) due to their lack of real-time alerting mechanisms and monitoring capabilities, both of which are crucial for SOCs to have proper visibility. SOCs employ dynamic security solutions capable of adapting policies in response to real-time analysis and threat intelligence, unlike the static policy framework inherent in traditional VPNs. 

What a Modernized VPN Solution Looks Like 

Many enterprises have recently discovered the benefits of “as-a-service” offerings. The appeal of service distribution lies in its maintenance-free nature that eliminates the need for updating, securing, or patching any appliances or servers. VPN access is evenly distributed across large geographical expansions and can easily scale up or down to accommodate fluctuating demand. Administrative tasks are streamlined through a cloud portal, offering a consistent interface for admins, regardless of their location. Naturally, these solutions can seamlessly integrate with other cloud services and platforms including Azure AD, AWS, and Google Cloud to ensure that users can securely access these services without the necessity of routing traffic through the corporate network.  

The shift to cloud-based VPN also revolutionizes its architecture. Instead of the traditional two-way tunnel between a user and the corporate network, it establishes an outbound-only connection from the corporate network to the cloud VPN provider. This approach to exclusively use outbound connections significantly reduces risk exposure, as there’s no longer a need to publicly expose applications or IP addresses. It simplifies the workload for network operations teams by eliminating the need for creating NAT routings and obviates the necessity for penetration testing. The cloud then serves as a median that users connect to using advanced authentication and authorization controls as well as MFA.  

A Traditional Name in Security 

Now that you know what a modernized VPN solution looks like, where can one acquire such technology? The answer lies with a traditional name synonymous with robust security solutions on a global scale – Cisco. As a forerunner in VPN technology in the past, Cisco continues to lead with innovation into the future. Their VPN-as-a-Service offering, seamlessly integrates with their comprehensive suite including Meraki WAN, simplifies administration by consolidating management into a single portal. This integration not only bolsters security protocols but also simplifies connectivity and network management. Such value-added innovations are pivotal in maintaining Cisco’s position as a leader in providing sophisticated, secure networking solutions to enterprises everywhere. 

Why Evolving Solutions 

Evolving Solutions is a Cisco partner specializing in hybrid network operations. Our team of security experts is equipped to design a VPN solution tailored to your network’s specific needs, delivering secure access optimized for each of your users. Allow Evolving Solutions to liberate you from the limitations of legacy VPN systems and usher you into a new era of modernized security. 

Matt Erickson

Sr. Solution Architect - Networking

Matt Erickson is an Sr. Solution Architect for the Networking practice at Evolving Solutions and joined the company in 2021.

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