Gateway Vs. VPN: What’s the Difference?

Gateway VS VPN

Businesses moving to the cloud must protect their operations from these cyber threats.

Security Web Gateways and VPNs are good tools for remote access protection, each with distinct features. This guide will help you understand the differences between Gateway vs VPN and their respective roles and benefits in enhancing your business’s digital security.

Quick Takeaways

  • Gateway Definition: A network node that regulates traffic, ensuring security and efficient data management.
  • VPN Definition: A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is a virtual network that encrypts user data and provides secure internet access, protecting privacy and data integrity.
  • Functionality: Gateways manage and secure network traffic at entry points, while VPNs encrypt user internet activity for privacy and security.
  • Specific Use Cases: Gateways are essential for overall network traffic management, whereas VPNs are crucial for secure remote access and data encryption.
  • Accessibility and Restrictions: Virtual Private Networks might restrict access to region-specific content, unlike gateways that primarily manage network traffic without limitations.
  • Security Aspects: While both offer protection, VPNs focus on encrypting user data, contrasting with gateways controlling and filtering network traffic.

Gateway vs VPN: How Do They Differ?


A Secure Web Gateway (SWG) acts as a cybersecurity shield, protecting premises networks from harmful software or malware found on the web. It grants IT and SecOps teams detailed control over online activities within a company premises network.

  • Functionality as an Entry Point to a Network: Private gateways serve as checkpoints for data entering or leaving the network. They ensure that only secure and compliant data passes through, maintaining network integrity.
  • Control Access to Network Resources: They differ from VPNs in access management. They connect remote users and actively manage who can access what is within the network, blocking dangerous content and unauthorized access.
  • Typically Lacks Encryption: A notable difference from VPNs is the absence of encryption in gateways. Their primary focus is controlling access and monitoring activities rather than securing data transmission.


Virtual Private Networks provide secure connection to the public internet through data encryption. They effectively protect online activities from cyber criminals, maintaining anonymity and security.

  • Establishes Secure Connection over Public Network: VPNs create a safe passage for data over public/office networks. Connecting to Wi-Fi in public spaces like cafes or airports becomes safer, reducing the risk of data theft or device malware infection.
  • Encrypts Data Transmission: The core of VPN technology lies in its ability to encrypt data. Even if intercepted, the data remains unreadable to unauthorized entities, safeguarding personal and sensitive information.
  • Allows Remote Access to Private Network Resources: VPNs grant access to private network resources from remote locations. Employees can access internal systems from anywhere without compromising network security.

Use Cases: Which One Should You Use When?


SWGs examine traffic from client devices seeking internet connections. As outgoing connection requests pass through the SWG, it checks them against a list of approved links and policies.

  • Corporate Networks: SWGs are effective for corporate networks, particularly in cloud-delivered formats. As intermediaries between globally distributed users and the internet, they provide secure access without routing traffic through distant data centers.
  • Home Networks: SWGs aren’t just for corporations. Remote workers who need safe access to corporate resources need protection against online threats at home.


When comparing Gateway and VPN, it’s important to note that the latter safeguards online privacy and secures data, particularly in remote work contexts and while using public networks.

  1. Remote Work: Business VPNs secure connections to company networks from any location, protecting data against cyber threats. They’re particularly important in remote work scenarios as data is more vulnerable on unsecured networks.
  2. Secure Communication over Public Networks: Although convenient, public WiFi networks are often insecure. VPNs protect your data on these networks, shielding you from potential cyber threats like theft.

Considerations for Implementation

#1: Network Size and Complexity

Small businesses in a single office with limited external data transfer might not require a VPN. Conversely, companies poised for expansion or operating across multiple locations should view a VPN as a sensible investment. When choosing a VPN, key considerations include:

  • Server Locations: A greater variety of locations facilitates easier access to geo-restricted content and maintains fast and secure connectivity.
  • Simultaneous Connections: Look for VPNs that allow multiple devices to connect simultaneously, providing comprehensive security with one subscription.
  • Specialized Servers: Opt for VPNs with servers tailored for activities such as streaming, gaming, or torrenting, which enhance the online experience.

An example of rapid implementation is a 1,000-person company that deployed a zero-trust network and onboarded employees in just two days.

#2: Security Requirements

94% of organizations consider their VPNs cyberattack targets, with 19% very concerned about security compromises. Key security considerations in VPN security include:

  • Remote Code Execution (RCE) Risks: VPNs don’t inherently defend against RCE attacks, where hackers can run malicious codes after breaching security policy. These attacks risk destabilizing internal networks and causing data loss.
  • Social Engineering Limitations: VPNs cannot protect you if social engineering techniques, such as spear-phishing and online impersonation, trick authenticated users into sharing sensitive information. These methods commonly bypass VPN encryption.

Organizations must consider solutions with advanced security features to mitigate these security gaps.

#3: Accessibility Needs

When choosing between a Gateway vs VPN, consider how each affects website accessibility. VPNs are great for security but sometimes limit access to region-specific content. Consider the following points:

  • Limited Website Access: A VPN may restrict access to websites or services, as it can make it seem like the user is connecting from another country. The feature might block access to region-locked sites or services.
  • Streaming Service Limitations: For instance, a U.S.-based company using a cloud VPN might not access streaming cloud services exclusive to Europe. Similarly, a European company might face restrictions when using U.S.-specific services via a VPN.
  • Bypass of Filters: VPNs can prevent ISPs from seeing internet activity, which may inadvertently bypass filters like parental controls or other security settings.
  • Privacy Concerns for Young Users: VPNs circumventing internet filters might expose young users to inappropriate content.

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What is the difference between a VPN and a Gateway?
A VPN primarily encrypts internet traffic to provide secure remote access, while a Gateway manages and controls traffic at a network’s entry point. The VPN focuses on security and privacy for users by creating a protected data tunnel. Gateways is the doorkeeper, directing incoming and outgoing traffic to ensure smooth network operation.
What is the difference between a VPN and a Web Gateway?
The difference between a VPN and web gateways is that A VPN secures all user internet activity, while a Web Gateway specifically targets and manages web traffic for security. The VPN encrypts your entire online connection, so you’re protected and private. A Web Gateway, on the other hand, filters and monitors web-based communications.
Is VPN better than RD Gateway?
VPNs are popular due to their extensive security features and comprehensive remote access capabilities. Unlike RD Gateways, which designers specifically crafted for remote desktop but also physical connections, VPNs secure all internet traffic and grant access to network resources, enhancing versatility in remote work and privacy protection.
What is VPN Site-to-Site vs Gateway?
Site-to-site connections secure separate networks across the Internet, whereas a Gateway directs traffic within a single network. It acts as a bridge between different geographic locations, ensuring seamless, encrypted connections. On the other hand, Gateways serve as the network’s entry and exit points, regulating data flow and access to resources.
What Is a VPN Gateway in Azure Virtual Network?
An Azure virtual network Gateway is a managed service that lets you create secure connections between your Azure virtual network and other locations, such as:

On-premises networks: This is similar to setting up a connection to a remote office. It allows resources in your virtual network to communicate securely with your on-premises resources over the public internet.
Other Azure virtual networks: You can use VPN Gateway to create secure connections between virtual networks in different Azure regions or subscriptions.

The communication is encrypted using industry-standard protocols like IKE (Internet Key Exchange) and IPSec (Internet Protocol Security).

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