Security Considerations for VPN (And Your Alternatives to It)


If there’s one thing to learn about the digital world, it is that no connection is entirely safe.

94% of organizations are aware that their VPNs are potential targets for cyberattacks, and 19% are very concerned about VPNs compromising their security.

The top three concerns are:

  • Social engineering (75%)
  • Ransomware (74%), and
  • Malware attacks (60%)

Our survey results show that 67% of companies experienced serious cybersecurity incidents over the past year, costing them an average of $330,000 in damages.

Case in point: No matter how sophisticated your security measures are, your system may still be vulnerable when reliant on logins and protocols.

Although malware protection is essential, it cannot provide a complete solution to cybersecurity threats. This is where cloud VPNs come into play.

In this article, we will walk through the advantages of cloud VPNs, explore whether VPNs are safe for cloud assets, understand security considerations for VPNs, and lastly map out some of the alternatives to VPNs.

Advantages of Cloud VPNs

In this section, we will take a deep dive into the main advantages of a cloud-based virtual private network (VPN).

Cloud VPN Options 

Scalability tops the list of advantages. Traditional VPNs have difficulties managing increments in traffic and, hence, offer limited scalability. Meanwhile, cloud VPNs can quickly scale up to accommodate growth or an unexpected spike in network demand.

Global Access 

Working remotely, or need to access sensitive information while on the move? Cloud VPN serves as the right tool at such times. High-performance connections can be established across international lines, so employees can connect irrespective of their geographical location.

Access Control 

Cloud VPNs can extend secure, policy-based network access controls to any device — irrespective of where it’s located.

Access can be explicitly granted or denied depending on certain attributes such as device health, user authentication status, or IP address. These features deliver centralized control, reducing the risk of unauthorized access.


Change is a constant in business environments, especially those reliant on evolving technology features. The aspect of scalability becomes critical when tech advances drive new ways of doing business or call for augmentation in the data flow.

With a traditional VPN, scaling to meet this increased demand proves a challenge.

However, with cloud VPNs, expansion is a seamless part of the system engineered to respond to real-time demand increases — all without disruptions.

Good Data Usage Policies

Cloud VPNs often have robust data usage policies to prevent misuse and ensure compliance. The policies are implemented to prioritize privacy, maintain network security, and regulate access to certain classified data.

The exciting part? With cloud VPNs, such policies can be auto-enforced and tweaked with ease — thanks to the simple-to-operate dashboard interfaces.

Are Vpns Secure for Cloud Assets?

Yes. VPNs are indeed secure for cloud usage to a significant degree. But how? Let’s see the difference between cloud data protection with and without a VPN.

Without a VPN:

  1. Targeted malware and man-in-the-middle attacks are ripe given the lack of a reliable safeguard. The evolving threat landscape can expose delicate company information slipping through unprotected links to cybercriminals.
  1. The credentials of legitimate users can easily be breached, and ill-intentioned parties could gain infiltrative access to confidential data. Digital public locations such as cafes, airports, and hotels are hotspots for these activities.
  1. Network edge too is less protected while not making use of a VPN, exposing data in transit to avoidable risks. Thus, poor endpoint security crops up as a pain point. 

With a VPN:

  1. Anonymity is the chief perk — your online activities become hard to track, safeguarding your data from spying or sniffing attempts. VPNs work to obscure identity by hiding the key data identifiers, making cyber threats difficult to orchestrate.
  1. Encryption of data helps to keep sensitive information out of reach, thus, drastically minimizing data breaches. An encrypted tunnel is formed between the user’s device and the VPN server — safeguarding data as it traverses the web.
  1. Each and every device connected to the VPN lands behind a firewall. This increases the layer of protection and potentially bars out malware and suspicious traffic. Instead of dealing with threats on every individual device, you deal with streams of ‘filtered’ traffic via the dedicated server.

Top 11 Security Considerations for VPNs

In this section, we will delve into what to consider when determining the security strength of your VPN setups.

No Protection Against RCE (Remote Code Execution)

Think of a hacker breaching a secured enclave and then using it to run malicious codes. VPN doesn’t inherently safeguard your system against remote code execution attacks. This type of cyberattack can destabilize your networks and potentially lead to loss of data or controlled contravene experiences.

No Protection Against Social Engineering

If a perpetrator manages to convince an authenticated user to perform certain actions or share confidential data, VPN security stands no chance. Most online scams, spear-phishing emails, or impersonating attempts on social platforms are categorized under social engineering – and against these, the encryption or identity mask by the VPN doesn’t make a difference.

Site-To-Site vs Remote Access VPNs

Grasp the difference between the two main types of VPN in order to better mitigate risks.

Site-to-site VPNs link together multiple locations under one network, whereas remote access VPNs let individual users securely access the network from different locations.

Both have unique risks to consider.

The former might have weak points lying unattended if not tested for security on each site. The latter opens up the possible risk gates when the user’s endpoint device is infected or penetrated.

Implementing a VPN Kill Switch 

A VPN kill switch is intended to immediately disable your internet connection if the VPN fails, halting the accidental exposure of your data. It ensures zero data leaks by adding an extra layer of security. Incorporating a reliable VPN kill switch in your setup is a significant safety consideration.

Dynamic Routing 

When you think of network management, dynamic routing comes into the picture. It ensures efficient and reliable path selection for network communication, reducing administrative overhead. However, misconfigurations in dynamic routing can expose your system to attackers pretending to be reliable nodes. Thus, a stable, capable VPN provider must be chosen — one that properly integrates with network infrastructure.

Choosing the Right Tunnel Protocol

The tunneling protocol determines how your data is transported from point A to point B over the VPN. Here are some of the common tunneling protocols:

  1. PPTP: Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol is quite old, well supported, and provides high speed allowing faster data transmission. On the downside, it is known to have several security issues.
  2. L2TP/IPsec: Layer 2 Tunnel Protocol coupled with IPsec provides a better level of security than PPTP. While it may not deliver as high speeds as PPTP, L2TP/IPsec offers a balanced option prioritizing security over speed.
  3. OpenVPN: This is a versatile, superior security protocol that is highly configurable and boasts widespread compatibility. OpenVPN provides excellent security but might be a tad slowing down depending on the configuration settings.
  4. IKEv2: Internet Key Exchange version 2 is a dependable, high-speed protocol especially good for mobile users who resume sessions after a lost Internet connection occurs.
  5. WireGuard: This newer, lightweight protocol offers slick, speedy connections and solid security.

Segmentation Impracticality 

This signifies the challenge of isolating various parts of a network while using site-to-site VPN. Network segmentation enhances security and usability, but faces difficulties with compatibility and management hurdles when introduced in a VPN context. Thus, extra thorough consideration will be required where segmentation is essential while using a site-to-site VPN.


Though VPN isn’t entirely foolproof, its imperfections could leave minor cracks exposing your privacy by ending up not entirely masking your identity or data, by perhaps leaking your IP address or DNS queries.

Difficulty in Detecting Attacks 

It’s true — the encryption offered by VPNs can be a double-edged sword.

While it keeps your data safe from prying eyes, it can also make detecting and mitigating an ongoing attack or intrusion attempt a significant challenge.

Concealed under encrypted cover, cyber threats may silently penetrate or persist in your network calling for more intricate solutions to understand the underlying layer.

Additional Risks Associated With Misconfiguration

From incorrect firewall rules to neglected security patches, a minor misconfiguration can create leeway for hackers.

Appropriate steps include regular audits of VPN set-ups and employing automation to ensure adherence to best practices and known safety configurations.

Must read: Top 24 HIPAA Books to Read to Stay Compliant in 2023

Alternatives to VPNs 

In this section, we discuss some alternatives to VPNs and use cases where they may potentially be superior.

Identity and Access Management (IAM) 

Identity and Access Management (IAM) is a security system that enables the right individuals to access the right resources at the right time for the right reasons.

IAM is primarily driven by business requirements and complies with various multi-client access and regulatory compliance requirements.

Note that while it boosts the protection of sensitive databases, it is no substitute for a comprehensive security protocol inclusive of VPN, Firewall, and IDS systems.

Zero Trust Network 

The Zero Trust Network, as the name implies, trusts no one. Its concept is simple—verify everything and everyone seeking connection. Users can only access the data they require, even when already inside the network.

This is its main strength, making the system not only hard to penetrate from the outside, but securing it from malicious insiders too.

However, similar to IAM, Zero Trust is part of a comprehensive security approach and doesn’t entirely replace VPNs for securing private network traffic.

But it is also worth noting that Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA) is the fastest-growing segment in network security and is forecast to grow 31% in 2023, according to a Gartner study. And the primary reason is that it extends secure access control, and verifies each request — no matter where the source of that connection. However, it all boils down to choosing the right ZTNA.

Must read: Make Zero Trust All It Can Be: Tips from the U.S. Army

Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) 

Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) is a model that combines network security and wide-area networking capabilities into a single service in the cloud. Adopting SASE can result in considerable improvements in performance, scalability, and lower costs. However, the transition to SASE requires strategic planning and focuses on services rather than specific technologies, making it a supplementary tool to a VPN, rather than a complete substitute.


Software-Defined Wide Area Networks (SD-WAN) is an approach to managing wide-area networks that allow businesses to streamline their bandwidth usage by mining into readily available, cheap internet links. Companies use it to ensure uninterrupted connectivity and concurrently safeguard their data traffic.

SD-WAN is luring companies previously rigid about using VPNs, particularly when combined with other techniques such as encryption for end-to-end security.

However, like the aforementioned security measures, SD-WAN works best as a component of a holistic digital protection plan.

It is not a direct replacement for the confining and shielding properties of the VPN.

Must read: 5 Most Common Mistakes That Organizations Make with SD-WAN Security

Secure Your Network With the Right Tools and Techniques

Choosing the right security layers for your network isn’t about selecting a single tool but rather about creating a robust, multi-faceted defense strategy. 

VPNs, IAM, Zero Trust Networks, SASE, and SD-WAN — each have their strengths, weaknesses, and distinct use cases. Their thoughtful, coordinated deployment can create a secure, resilient network that’s ready to withstand the evolving threats of the digital age.

Looking for VPN alternatives? Perimeter 81 offers a blend of innovative solutions tailored to your needs. Learn more here!