A VPN is not the only tool you can use to increase privacy, security, and digital freedom. There are alternatives dedicated to business or private use.
Private alternatives to VPN
- Tor (The Onion Router) – open-source software that protects users against a common form of Internet surveillance. The primary purpose of Tor is to prevent traffic analysis, and it was initially developed for the U.S. Navy. It is a free network of servers (nodes), randomly routing traffic between each other. This process makes it difficult to locate the origin of the data. Using random traffic routes significantly increases your anonymity, but together with a VPN creates the best possible privacy protection. Unfortunately, there is a drawback. Traffic relayed through several hops will impact your connection speed and not be convenient for streaming or sharing files.
- Proxy services – play the role of intermediary servers between your device and the destination, for example, a website. Proxy services are pretty popular. However, the major drawback is the latency and lack of privacy or security. The most dangerous are free proxy services that, in most cases, monetize your data by selling it.
Still, VPNs with a proper no-logs policy provide the best privacy solution for private use.
VPN alternatives for business
Let’s look at secure networks from a different perspective and determine if private solutions are suitable for businesses.
VPNs provide secure remote access to internal enterprise networks using encrypted point-to-point tunnels. However, increasingly, organizations are moving away from local networks extensively using cloud services. As a result, they seek more efficient alternatives to VPNs for numerous reasons, primarily for remote employees working from mobile devices.
In my opinion, there are two alternatives worth attention:
- SD-WAN – Software-defined wide-area networking – a hybrid combination of multiple solutions implemented as one automated, programmatic approach to managing enterprise network connectivity. SD-WAN helps utilize cloud services with business-grade VPN, broadband internet, and wireless networks. In addition, this approach automates the process of efficient routing packets based on security and Quality-of-Service (QoS) requirements.
- Secure Access Service Edge (SASE, pronounced “sassy”) – solves the main limitation of SD-WAN that requires pre-configured hardware to be deployed in a remote location. SASE instead deploys security services in the cloud. Moreover, SASE architecture can increase network performance by deploying security services near cloud-based resources or geographically-distributed remote workers.
Selecting an Alternative Remote Access Solution
SD-WAN and SASE provide a secure, high-performance alternative to legacy remote access solutions from a business perspective.
Moreover, SD-WAN can increase efficiency and lower the costs of connecting two corporate LANs for businesses. But, on the other hand, for private use, the price of SD-WAN or SASSE solution is overkill, and there are no benefits compared to popular VPN services.
The choice depends on the requirements and the purpose of use: private or business.
While small and medium businesses can use the popular VPN services, I would still recommend using SD-WAN or SASE by a corporation to achieve efficient networks and lower implementation and maintenance costs.