Secure Remote Access Without a VPN: The Complete Guide

secure remote access without a vpn

Competitive companies use cloud storage and infrastructure, which enables remote access. Remote access has many benefits, but it’s also vital you ensure that all connections are secure.

Some companies use a VPN (Virtual Private Network) to bolster security, but this is not an option for everyone. Traditional VPNs have challenges, so depending on your company’s needs, you may choose alternative solutions. Secure remote access without a VPN is possible if you and all of your employees implement other security tools and follow security best practices consistently.

Quick Takeaways

  • Remote access: Remote access is the ability to connect to your company’s data from anywhere, at any time.
  • Traditional VPNs aren’t for everyone: Some companies do well with VPNs, but for those that don’t, secure remote access alternatives may be useful.
  • If you don’t want to use a VPN, you need other security tools: Security for your remote workers is paramount as their access to your entire network can create vulnerabilities.
  • Follow best practices: You and your employees should be following security best practices to reduce your risk of attack. No tool can completely prevent an incident on its own.

Why Secure Remote Access Is Important

Remote work is on the rise, and it’s becoming increasingly important to employees to have flextime as a benefit. Many companies also find that employees with remote options are more productive, respond more quickly, and have higher engagement – not to mention that overhead costs to the company are decreasing.

If you don’t ensure everyone has a secure connection, you risk cyberattacks and data security incidents.

When employees remotely access your information and network, they could be using a personal mobile device, public Wi-Fi, or other poor security practices.

This opens you up to various attacks, from ransomware to compromised credential attacks. Secure remote access without VPN doesn’t provide a secure, encrypted tunnel between the device and your private network, but it can combat other risks and reduce the likelihood of an incident.

The Key Challenges with Traditional VPNs

VPNs are not always the best solution, here’s why:

  • Bandwidth issues: VPNs can slow down internet speeds, which can be frustrating for remote workers in locations without high-speed connections. It can also be troublesome for video calls, which generally need all the bandwidth they can get. User experience can suffer if things slow down too much, and this could cause employees to forgo the VPN entirely. 
  • Setup difficulties: Depending on the VPN that is implemented and the operating systems that employees use, there can be challenges with setup. Sometimes, the VPN is not compatible with a particular OS, or it might require manual configuration that is too complex for remote users to complete correctly. 
  • Legal restrictions. VPNs are not legal in all countries, so companies that have employees who work remotely from countries where VPNs are illegal will need to rely on remote access without a VPN.

Benefits of Secure Remote Access Without Incorporating a VPN

Some organizations find VPNs indispensable, but there are some benefits to focusing on secure remote access without incorporating a VPN. 

  • Enhanced security and protection against unauthorized access: Using authentication protocols and network access control, you can reduce the risk of an attacker accessing sensitive data. Even if an attacker compromises an account, using multi-factor authentication can prevent access to applications and corporate network.
  • Simplified access management and granular control: By implementing strict access controls, an employee can only access data and segments of your network that are relevant for that person to do his job. This allows you to isolate parts of your network and prevent attackers from using one user’s account to access your entire environment. 
  • Improved user experience and productivity: Without a VPN, all available bandwidth can be devoted to the employee’s activity, which is likely to improve productivity. Fast connectivity and low latency facilitate easy employee collaboration and efficient remote work. 
  • Scalability for remote workers: Eliminating a traditional VPN reduces the amount of hardware investment needed to protect your network. As your business and remote workforce grows, the alternative tools you use for secure remote access will scale along with it. 

Best Practices to Follow

If you want to implement secure remote access without incorporating a VPN, it’s important to follow these best practices:

  1. Assess security risks and audit existing infrastructure: Ensure you have complete visibility into your environment. Catalog all vulnerabilities and potential exploits, and regularly patch and update as needed. 
  2. Deploy a comprehensive access control policy: Not all employees need to access all of your data or servers. Segment your network and restrict access as applicable. Don’t give administrator privileges to non-administrators. Automated tools can help enforce access policies. 
  3. Implement strong authentication methods and password management: All employees should be using MFA, and training should be provided to prevent social engineering attacks. Create protocols for secure password creation, storage, and use. 
  4. Monitor and detect security vulnerabilities in real-time: Using automated monitoring tools and firewalls can help you detect unusual traffic, potential vulnerabilities, data silos, and more potential problems.

Educate employees on secure remote access practices: Before employees begin working remotely, review best practices for them.

Overview of Alternative Remote Access Solutions

There are several solutions you can use instead of a VPN for secure remote access, including the following

  • Zero-trust network access (ZTNA). ZTNA helps you segment network and create customized access policies based on the principle of least privilege.
  • Secure access service edge (SASE). Based in the cloud, SASE focuses on identity verification to reduce the risk that compromised employee accounts will be able to access your network. A good SASE solution can self-update and adapt to new threats. 
  • Cloud-native identity platforms. This solution protects cloud resources from attack through sophisticated identity verification. 
  • Role-based access controls (RBAC). This solution restricts access to resources and data depending on assigned roles within your infrastructure. For example, an administrative assistant is automatically blocked from accessing the developers’ server. 
  • Multi-factor authentication (MFA). Whether it sends your device a push notification or requires a secondary passcode, MFA is designed to ensure that attackers can’t access the company’s network by compromising an employee’s login credentials. 

Create a Bulletproof Security Strategy with Perimeter81

VPNs can be a useful tool for securing your environment and protecting your privacy, but they aren’t the right fit for every enterprise.

If you’re looking for secure remote access without incorporating a VPN, contact Perimeter81 today to discuss some alternative tools, like SASE and RBAC, that may be more useful. 


Do I really need a VPN for security?
Not neccesarily. While a VPN is helpful for security, there are other secure remote access tools available that may be a better fit.
Is it safe to use a remote desktop Without a VPN?
You can use a remote desktop without a VPN, but you need to follow security best practices and implement other security tools to block attacks. 
Do you need a VPN to work remotely?
Working remotely means your company needs a way to cover its attack surface. For many organizations, a VPN is the best way to do this. For others, tools like Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA) and Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) can provide security without the VPN. 
What is the role of SASE?
SASE helps make secure remote connections by enforcing access control, protecting your network from potentially malicious traffic, and regulating your access to potentially malicious external sites. 
How can I securely work remotely?
Avoid using public Wi-Fi, and follow best security practices and your company’s protocols for data access and storage.

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