Zero Trust vs SSL VPN: Which One to Choose for Remote Work?

Zero Trust vs SSL VPN: Which One to Choose for Remote Work?
Zero Trust vs SSL VPN: Which One to Choose for Remote Work?

Wondering what to choose between Zero Trust vs VPN for remote work? Read on to know more.

For the last few years and decades, corporate Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) were the go-to and common solution for employees and organisations for connecting to the company network from remote locations—being a simple and affordable solution.

However, since the beginning of the pandemic—organisations have been trying to find much more secure and convenient ways to accommodate remote employees’ needs and requirements because of the increasing debate regarding corporate VPNs being a secure solution or not.

One of the new solutions is SSL VPN—a more advanced version of the IPsec VPN. However, these advanced VPNs still make the company network highly vulnerable and prone to hackers and attackers.

This article shows what SSL VPN is, its security risks, Zero Trust compared to SSL VPNs, and which option to choose between Zero Trust vs VPN for your remote working needs.

What is an SSL VPN?

Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) VPNs are technologically advanced and more secure than VPNs—meant to offer much more secure remote access to network resources and enterprise applications.

While the IPsec VPNs encrypt the IP packets—SSL VPNs encrypt at the transport layer and the network traffic. Thus, while IPsec VPNs let users connect remotely to the entire network and access its applications, SSL VPNs provide remote tunnelling access to specific network systems or applications.

Encryption in SSL VPN occurs via the TLS protocol, and the SSL VPN comes in two primary types—Portal VPN and Tunnel VPN.

Security risks with the SSL VPNs

Compared to other security and connectivity solutions—SSL VPNs increase the network’s attack surface and open several doors for malicious hackers and attackers to enter your organisation’s network.

SSL VPNs are based on the castle-and-moat security approach and only offer perimeter-based network security. Thus, while it protects the network’s perimeter—it fails to secure the applications and resources from attackers inside the network.

Through lateral movement, these attackers can see the entire network and access its assets—allowing them to progress inside the network without significant barriers and internal applications protection to plan and execute their attacks.

Moreover, SSL VPNs also fail to authenticate the user’s device—as an infected device can potentially spread malware within the network.

Hence, organisations are increasingly looking for VPN alternatives for a much more secure remote access due to these security risks. This is where Zero Trust Security comes into the picture.

Now, we will learn more about Zero Trust security that will help us understand better the difference between zero trust and VPN.

What is Zero Trust Security, and How Can it Help Mitigate Security Risks?

While SSL VPNs aren’t optimised for large-scale remote work and cloud environments—its Cloud VPN alternative, Zero Trust, is a cloud and remote ready solution that upgrades your organisation’s security posture and replaces the traditional security setup.

Unlike the legacy-built VPN solutions, Zero Trust Security removes the excessive implicit trust and follows the principle of ‘Never Trust, Always Verify.’

Thus, it provides application and network access to users only after a strict authentication and authorisation process to specific resources—instead of the entire network. Hence, users no longer have complete network visibility—preventing malicious entities from accessing resources and gaining explicit network access.

Here are some benefits of Zero Trust over VPN and what makes it one of the best alternatives to VPN for your organisation.

Strengthens security and removes implicit trust

While VPNs assume every user to be trustworthy and allow malicious users to exploit your network, Zero Trust ensures that users or employees access the right and specific applications without the entire network.

It authenticates each user before giving the application access via application-specific tunnels from the user device to only the authorised applications.

Thus, Zero Trust beats SSL VPNs by ensuring internal network security.

Reduces attack surface and management complexity

Unlike VPNs, Zero Trust isn’t based on perimeter-based security. Instead, by ensuring internal network security—Zero Trust reduces the attack surface for the hackers.

Hence, it prevents lateral movement and easily extends security to your cloud assets, resources, and remote workforces.

Another excellent feature is its simplicity. Unfortunately, VPNs are extremely difficult to scale and require huge operational maintenance and expenditure due to the increased complexity.

On the other hand, Zero Trust removes the VPN-based redundant security stacks that require complex management with a single and unified secure access solution.

Device authentication and improved user experience

Besides user authorisation and authentication, Zero Trust also authenticates user devices to ensure that the correct device accesses the correct data or application at the right time by the right users.

You can also build and set customised access policies for different device types, control device permissions, and restrict device access based on geological and temporal binding restrictions.

Moreover, Zero Trust also eliminates the risks of backhauling user data traffic that leads to network latency and performance degradation—ensuring high performance and a quality user experience.


Thus, when it comes to SSL VPN vs Zero Trust— Zero Trust Security wins with a competitive edge to ensure secure remote access, internal network security, high simplicity, and quality user experience.

With Zero Trust Security—you no longer have to bother about malware network attacks as it provides network access to authenticated and authorised users to specific applications only.

We hope this blog helped you understand better the difference between VPN and zero-trust security.

If you’re looking for a stable and secure solution for your organisation’s remote work needs—check out our InstaSafe VPN Alternative solution to leverage granular access control, better security, better performance, and improve your network’s security posture. So, get in touch with us to know more or book a demo to experience the power of Zero Trust Security for your modern enterprise.

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