With the global focus shifting towards cyber security and data protection, companies and enterprises are investing in VPN or Virtual Private Network platforms.
Enabling VPN access for remote employees ensured a secure data sharing and communication channel. This was the initial hype that go many enterprises to sign up with VPNs, but it soon turned that the malicious cyber attacks were turning to VPN networks particularly.
According to Zscaler’s 2021 report, although 93% of organisations use VPNs for remote access, 94% know that cyber attackers often target VPNs to access and exploit network resources.
Hence, it’s no surprise that VPN solutions have many risks and disadvantages. For example, VPNs often lack to secure modern enterprises to ensure security, scalability, and performance.
Therefore, companies and organisations increasingly shift towards VPN alternatives to secure their network against cybercriminal activities. But before discussing the alternatives, let’s discuss the disadvantages of VPNs for your enterprise.
Top 5 Disadvantages of Using VPN
Here are some of the top VPN disadvantages and weaknesses that make it unsuitable for your modern enterprise and workforce.
- VPN Assumes Excessive Implicit Trust
One of the biggest disadvantages of VPNs is that they assume excessive implicit trust in all users and connections. They provide network access to every entity—making it easier for malicious users to access and exploit your network resources and applications.
In contrast, several alternatives to VPN connections only allow trusted and authorised access to network resources—keeping malicious and suspicious users at bay.
2. VPN: Management Complexity Impeding Scalability
Another major VPN disadvantage is that it’s highly unscalable. As a result, organisations try to minimise the VPN overload issues by adding more VPN concentrators and appliances, increasing network complexity and additional maintenance expenditure.
In addition, configuring and maintaining VPN appliances to ensure high availability requires complex configuration and high cost. Moreover, you need to complement and use VPNs with security tools, and management solutions, as VPNs provide remote access and not enterprise-grade monitoring and security.
So, with each additional layer of security tool application or solution—the network gets more complex, expensive, and difficult to scale.
3. Website Performance Issues Due to VPNs
VPN connectivity relies on the public internet—tying the network performance with the public internet’s performance.
Hence, due to increasing traffic, the problems of jitter and data packet loss are common—affecting the performance of critical business applications and resulting in poor user experience. Therefore, the backhauling of user data traffic results in network issues and impedes network performance and connectivity.
4. Lack of Granular Visibility and Security in VPN
When users connect to a network via VPN—they get unrestricted access to the entire network and its resources and applications.
For enterprises, it could mean access to third-party and non-admin users to the network-critical infrastructure—increasing the risks of malware attacks and data breaches.
Hence, to ensure granular security control, visibility, and least privilege access—enterprises choose alternatives of VPN to grant minimum and role-based access to the users.
5. VPN Increased Surface Attack and Unreliable Availability
VPNs increase the surface attack risks by exposing employees’ and users’ IPs to the public or external internet—making it easy for attackers and malicious users to access IP addresses and company networks.
In addition, unpredictable performance also brings unpredictable availability with no guarantee. VPNs come with the risks of public outages—affecting your company’s productivity, especially if it solely depends on VPNs and the public internet for day-to-day operations.
Additional Disadvantages of Using VPNs in 2023
- Using VPNs is Illegal in Many Countries
One of the big disadvantages of using VPNs is that many countries around the world have restricted the use of VPNs. A user can bypass government censorship using a VPN, and for this reason, the usage of VPN has been banned in some countries, such as Belarus, Iraq, Oman, North Korea, and Turkmenistan.
Additionally, certain countries, like Egypt and China, allow government-approved VPNs. Instead of banning the use of VPNs, these countries have restricted their use of it.
But if someone from China still wants to use VPN, they should choose VPNs that offer “obfuscated servers.” These servers do not show any metadata linked with VPN use. So, a person using VPN will not appear as someone using VPN.
2. VPN Service Might Use Your Data and Monitor Your Activity
A VPN platform routes your internet traffic through its servers. It hides your IP address and replaces it with a different one, and it also encrypts your data.
All of these result in internet security and anonymity. However, it also means that you must have faith in your VPN that it will not manipulate, sell, or abuse your data.
Here it should be mentioned that not all VPN providers misuse user data. Many of them hold up their end of the bargain — often known as “zero logs” or “no-logs” VPNs.
It means these VPNs do not log your actions or store your data. However, to use such a VPN, you must pay a premium. These top-level VPNs often have a signup fee, and they are considerably high.
But you should always keep in mind that low-tier VPNs log user data. They preserve your real IP address and also track your browsing activity. There have been many proven false claims by cheap VPN providers of not storing user data.
In June 2021, the Polisen (Sweden), National Crime Agency (UK), and Europol (the EU's law enforcement agency) conducted a sting operation to uncover the malice of DoubleVPN, a free VPN service.
The investigating bodies nabbed the servers, data, and customer logs due to suspicion of illegal activities on the dark web. As a result, DoubleVPN's website was taken down.
3. Most VPNs Can’t Bypass Censorship and Streaming Blocks
Streaming services have become better at enforcing geo-blocks, and they can block many VPNs. So, it has added to the list of disadvantages of VPN. If you are planning to use a VPN to stream content smoothly, it is wise to go with a premium VPN service.
But after discussing all the previous points, it is very clear that ensuring data privacy while using VPNs is paramount.
4. Free VPNs Do Not Offer the Best Anonymity
Free VPN services have the widest reach among individual users, and they do not actually care about safeguarding your privacy or online anonymity. Since their services are free, they often make money by running ads on their platform or by selling user data to third-parties.
While people can still watch an advertisement, losing one’s data to malicious operators can be extremely dangerous and one of the notable disadvantages of using VPNs.
What is the Alternative Solution to VPN?
So, if not VPN—then what’s the solution for your company?
The answer is the Zero Trust Security model or Zero Trust VPN approach. A ZTA model can replace the disadvantages of VPNs.
72% of organisations are in the early phases of adopting or have already adopted the Zero Trust Security model.
Compared to VPNs, here’s how the Zero Trust architecture benefits your business:
- It works and follows the principle of “Never Trust, Always Verify” to ensure secure remote access—guaranteeing better security and performance.
- Ensures a seamless user experience with single-click secure access to applications—eliminating the risks of network latency and backhauling.
- Implements a Privacy First approach to ensure that the network traffic is accessible to you only.
- Removes complexity and redundant VPN security stacks with a unified and single secure access solution.
- Provides granular, user-specific, and least-privilege access to applications.
Even though VPNs are popular choices for organisations—remote VPN access is not the right long-term solution to secure your organisations online communication and data sharing.
There are many disadvantages to using VPNs — they offer implicit trust, lack granular visibility, increase surface attacks, and come with management complexity, performance, and network latency issues.
Therefore, if you want to ensure maximum network security and performance—check out our InstaSafe Zero Trust Security services. We’ll help replace your traditional and legacy setup with an excellent Zero Trust solution to upgrade your security posture for maximum user experience.
So, contact us or book a demo to learn more.
Frequently Asked Questions About VPNs
- Is it risky to use VPN?
VPN is a popular way to mask your online presence. It routes user data through different servers and hides and replaces the IP address. To offer these services, VPN providers charge a premium.
On the other hand, free-VPNs do not charge any premium, but some sell user data to third parties and earn from that. This is a malicious practice and can cause great harm to individuals and enterprises by sacrificing their data privacy.
2. What are the 3 challenges for VPN?
There are several disadvantages of VPN usage, but here are the 3 most important points.
- VPN Assumes Excessive Implicit Trust
- Website Performance Issues Due to VPNs
- VPN Service Might Use Your Data and Monitor Your Activity
3. What are the most common VPN attacks?
The most common VPN attacks include Man-in-the-Middle (MitM) attacks, DNS leaks, IP address leaks, VPN client exploits, DDoS attacks on VPN servers, data interception, credential stuffing, malware delivery, and certificate and key exploits.
To stay secure, choosing reputable VPN providers, keeping software updated, and following best security practices are crucial. Regularly reviewing security guidelines helps protect against evolving threats.
4. Why is my VPN causing problems?
There could be several reasons why your VPN is causing problems. If you are using a low-tier or free VPN service, you may experience connection drops and hampered performance. VPN software consumes a lot of bandwidth, often leading to slow performance. And with slow performance and dodgy connectivity, the VPN shield can drop, making way for data leakage
Often, VPN software comes with a kill switch that can sever your connection to the internet if you feel that there could be a possibility of a data breach.
Once the connection is restored, you can get back online anonymously.