Virtual private networks, or VPNs, create a private network across a public internet connection. They give you anonymity and privacy by hiding your internet protocol (IP) address, which reduces your digital footprint, and by securing and encrypting your connections. Think of the VPN as a secret tunnel between your device and the internet; nobody can see what you’re doing inside the tunnel except you and the person on the other end that you’re sending data to—not even your internet service provider. This means that users can send and receive information as securely as if they were directly connected to a private network. But why does your business need an enterprise VPN?
When your users surf the internet on an unsecured Wi-Fi network, anyone else using the same network can tap into what they’re doing and access their browsing habits and private information. Firstly, by encrypting your users’ connections, an enterprise VPN secures their online activity against anyone trying to access it without permission. Secondly, a private connection improves security across private networks when users are connecting via a public or insecure Wi-Fi router. This is a particularly useful feature for organizations with employees working remotely, either from home or in a role that requires them to travel. Thirdly, an enterprise VPN allows admins to set up granular access controls that restrict users from accessing areas of the network that they don’t need to. Some VPNs do this through internal gated networks, and some deploy it at an application level. A powerful VPN may also come with built-in firewalls to protect against viruses, hacks and other threats.
Large enterprises require a high level of security, sometimes for thousands of users at once. It’s important that a business VPN is able to cater for this demand, as well as give the organization the tools it needs to be able to deploy and manage their VPN, and integrate it with other security resources.
In this article, we’ll explore the top ten enterprise VPNs, which are designed specifically to protect corporate web connections. Each of these offers different features, including varied device compatibility, scalability, central management and activity management. We’ll give you some background information on the provider and the key features of each solution, as well as the type of customer that they are most suitable for.
Twingate is a cybersecurity company dedicated to providing distributed workforces with secure, remote access to corporate resources, without compromising on productivity. Their eponymous, cloud-based platform enables IT to set up a software-defined perimeter and centrally manage user access to company applications—both those on-prem and in the cloud—without changing their IT infrastructure.
With Twingate enabled, users are connected to a corporate resource via its FQDN or IP address with no interaction needed from the users themselves. Twingate supports split tunnelling an intelligent routing to reduce the burden on an organization’s network and eliminate backhauling, ensuring quick, reliable connections, while the platform’s ViPR technology automatically deals with authorization and routing decisions, reducing the strain on IT teams.
From the central management console, admins can provision and deprovision users, gain app-level visibility into which users are accessing which resources, and configure granular access policies. The resource-level access policy customization enables organizations to enforce the principles of least privilege and zero trust security by limiting how much of the network a hacker could access, even if they did manage to compromise a user’s connection. Finally, for added security and usability, Twingate offers integrations with leading identity providers such as Okta and OneLogin to support single sign-on (SSO) across all user accounts.
Twingate deploys in the cloud and is available via three packages: Starter is suitable for individuals and small teams of up to five users, offering secure remote access with a support community; Business is suitable for up to 150 users, with added email support and more granular access controls; Enterprise supports an unlimited number of users, with added network analytics features and priority support. Customers praise Twingate for its lightweight, intuitive interface and ease of deployment. We recommend Twingate as a user-friendly solution for SMBs and mid-sized enterprises looking to easily provision their remote users with fast, secure access to corporate resources.
Cisco is a market leader in enabling and securing remote ways of working. Their products range from digital conferencing tools to internet access security, always ensuring that organizations’ communications are protected. AnyConnect is Cisco’s policy-driven VPN tool, designed to secure remote workers’ network access across wired, wireless and VPN connections. The solution provides secure access to the network from any device, at any time, from any location and offers complete visibility as to who is accessing an organization’s network through a single management agent.
AnyConnect uses the IKEv2 and SSL protocols to support a highly secure internet connection. All users are authenticated using multi-factor authentication (MFA) before connecting, to ensure only those with permission are granted access. The use of MFA means that hackers can’t tap into the connection, even if they know the user’s password. All data traffic is encrypted so that if the connection is intercepted, the data traffic will be unreadable. With AnyConnect Secure Mobility Client, organizations can also protect Android and iOS devices, which provides complete protection until the device is turned off. Admins are granted complete visibility across the extended enterprise, including mobile devices, as to who is accessing the network and from which device. If support is required, Cisco offers a 24/7 tech support for application managers.
AnyConnect delivers software updates automatically to make sure that users always receive the most efficient and effective protection possible. It integrates well with other Cisco solutions, so organizations can use it as a stand-alone product or as a part of a wider security stack. For this reason, we recommend Cisco AnyConnect as a strong, scalable VPN solution for all large enterprises, but particularly those with an interest in investing in other Cisco products.
Citrix provides cybersecurity services focused around enabling remote employees to work as productively as were they in the office. Serving over 100m users across the globe, including 98% of the Fortune 500, their solutions include virtual desktops, endpoint management and behavior and performance analytics. Citrix Gateway, formerly NetScaler, is Citrix’s VPN service that secures web, cloud and mobile applications, across all devices.
Citrix Gateway provides organizations with a single access point through which they can access the internet, apps and other business resources, no matter where their users are located. All connections from remote devices are made through Citrix, which means that organizations don’t have to worry about what devices employees are using to gain access – Citrix only allows safe, authenticated devices to connect. Citrix Gateway provides two-factor authentication, where users are required to sign in using a password ad secure token, so that hackers can’t gain access to the network even if they crack a user’s password. This secure authentication process allows Gateway to provide consistent single sign-on access for all applications. As users are verified before they can connect to the gateway, they don’t need to re-enter credentials once connected to the VPN. The solution also offers role-based access, so that individuals can only access the network levels that they require to be able to do their work.
Citrix Gateway allows users to connect with their work desktops from anywhere, including on mobile devices. Customers have praised the solution for its fast connections, which make it suitable for organizations working with active client relationships. This also makes it a great solution for enterprises with employees around the world connecting across different time zones, when it might not be possible to get into the office.
Fortinet is a market leader in securing remote enterprise networks. Their intelligent solutions provide security to more than 450,000 customers worldwide. Fortinet’s FortiClient is their integrated endpoint protection platform. It offers automated threat protection and vulnerability management, as well as complete visibility through a central management console.
FortiClient uses SSL and IPSec VPN to provide users with secure access to their organization’s network from any remote location. This lightweight solution is easy to integrate and deploy, and offers real-time central management through the Enterprise Management Server (EMS). This allows admins to configure VPN settings, monitor the attack surface, manage vulnerabilities, enforce compliance and track changes from one location. Admins can also use the platform to set up remote deployment for new starters.
Users connect to the VPN through a secure two-factor authentication process. Once verified, the client minimizes so as to cause as little disruption to the user as possible whilst still providing a secure connection. As well as the VPN security, FortiClient protects Microsoft Office applications and PDF readers against exploits. It also detects operating system and third-party application vulnerabilities in real time. Admins can configure and manage their vulnerability patches through the central management console.
FortiClient integrates seamlessly with Fortinet’s other security solutions, particularly FortiSandbox and FortiGuard, which both use behavior-based analysis and crowdsourced intelligence to detect and remediate known and unknown malware threats. Though it also works well as a stand-alone product, this makes FortiClient a particularly good solution for enterprises looking to invest in a VPN as part of a wider security stack.
Google produces a number of cloud security products under their Google Cloud brand to help keep organizations’ critical assets secure and their processes compliant. Their solutions are designed to cover all aspects of security, from the overall network architecture down to the granular protection of users and endpoints. Cloud VPN is Google’s VPN service, offering a fast, secure connection between remote users and their organization’s wider network.
Google offers two types of Cloud VPN: HA (high availability) VPN and Classic VPN. Both of these connect a user to their network through an IPsec connection. Google’s Cloud VPNs encrypt traffic at one end, then decrypt it when it reaches its destination. This means that all information sent is kept secure and private, so that not even the service provider can read the user’s data. The HA VPN offers a service-level agreement (SLA) of 99.99% service availability; the Classic VPN offers an SLA of 99.9%. Customers praise the Cloud VPNs user-friendly interface, though it’s important to note that the HA VPN runs across two separate interfaces. Both VPNs use external IP addresses to protect the user’s identity and location when browsing. The HA VPN chooses IP addresses from a pool, but an admin must create external IPs if running the Classic VPN.
Google regularly performs automatic maintenance on their Cloud VPN services, ensuring that users always receive the highest possible level of protection. Both solutions are easy to set up, and Google provides in-depth support so that even those with little technical expertise can configure networking policies with ease. This is a strong solution for organizations looking for a secure VPN that’s simple to configure and easy to manage post-deployment.
NordLayer is a cybersecurity solution for business from market-leading online privacy and security provider, NordSecurity. Over 15 million users currently trust NordSecurity to keep their data safe on the internet. NordLayer, designed to provide access control in line with zero trust principles, helps businesses to secure remote access to their corporate network. As well as offering remote access security, NordLayer offers each of its customers the services of a dedicated account manager to help them get the most out of their solution.
NordLayer secures remote devices in just one click, securing all data traffic with AES 256-bit encryption as soon as the user clicks on a gateway. Users can also enable the auto-connect feature for a constant and immediate network connection. The app’s Kill Switch feature, when enabled, automatically cuts off all internet traffic from the device if the connection to the server breaks at all, ensuring that no bad actors can access user data. Admins can manage user accounts, permissions and gateways from a single centralized dashboard, with optional help from a designated account manager. Users connect to the VPN with their existing business credentials, but NordLayer also supports third-party multi-factor and biometric authentication with Azure AD, Google Workspace, Okta and OneLogin, as well as single sign-on to ensure maximum security without creating friction within the user’s login experience.
As well as their VPN security, NordLayer’s solution offers support via live chat and email, and the support team promise to respond to all enquiries within three hours. Because NordLayer is a cloud-based solution, it’s easily scalable and can provide protection within a few hours of purchase. The solution is available via three plans—Basic, Advanced and Enterprise—making it a strong solution for organizations of any size looking for user-friendly security and a quick set-up.
Palo Alto Networks is a global leader in cybersecurity offerings at enterprise level. They specialize in their use of AI, analytics and automation and orchestration across their solutions. GlobalProtect is Palo Alto Networks’ VPN solution, which delivers the capabilities of their Security Operating Platform to remote workers and mobile devices. It provides excellent protection for network connections, as well as in-depth visibility into who is accessing an organization’s network.
GlobalProtect establishes a secure SSL or IPsec VPN connection between users and the network and the solution’s next-generation firewall. The connection itself supports heavy traffic by distributing requests across multiple network portals and gateways. It offers authoritative user and device identification and multi-factor authentication. GlobalProtect’s advanced firewall capabilities allow admins insight as to who is using the solution to connect to their network and applications, as well as what devices they’re gaining access on. They can also create security policies that restrict or allow access based on business need. These policies extend to all users, regardless of their location, in order to allow all users secure access and remove any remote access blindspots. GlobalProtect integrates seamlessly with Palo Alto’s Next-Generation Firewall, which means that it is also able to secure devices against a number of targeted cyberattacks, evasive application traffic and malicious websites.
Because GlobalProtect is available as an app, organizations can also use it to secure mobile devices such as Android and iOS systems. This makes it particularly useful for working across different timezones and organizations whose employees require flexible hours and regularly access the network out of hours, for example to maintain contact with clients and partners. Customers praise this solution for its ease of deployment and configuration, even amongst non-technical users. Palo Alto Networks’ GlobalProtect is a strong solution for organizations looking for extensive security across remote devices, and particularly mobile devices, that they can set up quickly.
Perimeter 81 is a leading network security vendor that specializes in scalable, cloud-based solutions for the modern hybrid workforce. The Perimeter 81 platform combines an award-winning Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA) solution, a Secure Service Edge (SSE) platform, a Firewall as a Service (FWaaS), and a Secure Web Gateway (SWG), to enable organizations to protect their cloud environments, whether on-premises or remote.
Perimeter 81’s simplistic platform encrypts all traffic to protect sensitive corporate data from unauthorized access that can lead to a breach. It supports IPSec, OpenVPN and WireGuard protocols, to ensure that all cloud environments are protected effectively. The platform uses a Zero Trust approach to restrict network access, including access to web applications and cloud environments. Admins can configure access permissions based on role and device, so they have total visibility of who is accessing the network from a unified management portal. Admins can also access activity audits and reports to monitor login, gateway deployments, and app connections. Perimeter 81’s zero-trust solution also features two-factor authentication (2FA) for an added layer of protection against identity-based attacks, as well as DNS filtering capabilities, which allow admins to block users from accessing specific sites through a web browser.
Perimeter 81’s holistic and user-centric platform is cloud-based, which means that organizations can scale their entire infrastructure without the use of any external hardware. Perimeter 81 is fully compatible with Windows, Mac, iOS and Android, as well as Linux and Chromebook, to ensure that network access is always secure and simple, no matter which device is being used. We recommend Perimeter 81 as a strong, modern VPN alternative for organizations looking to secure remote access to their corporate network, without the hardware or complexity of deploying a traditional VPN.
SonicWall is a leading provider of firewall and security solutions for organizations around the world. All of their VPN solutions can be integrated seamlessly with antivirus and antimalware tools, and are easy to install. SonicWall’s Secure Mobile Access (SMA) 1000 Series is SonicWall’s enterprise-level VPN, with the scalability to support up to 20,000 connections. With this solution, organizations can allow managed devices to securely access their data centers with a familiar remote VPN experience.
SonicWall SMA 1000 works as an SSL or IPsec end-point agent to provide remote users with secure access to their organization’s network. Compatible with Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, ChromeOS, Linux and Amazon Kindle Fire, it encrypts data travelling between the user’s device and the network to authenticate data and user identities. All devices are protected via SonicWall’s Mobile Connect app, but mobile devices also require SonicWall’s Secure Mobile Access gateway for complete protection. Users are verified using two-factor authentication, and admins can also enable the use of one-time passwords for sign-on. From the management console, admins can manage access to individual applications at a granular level so that employees can only access what they need to be able to carry out their work. This includes creating user groups for certain apps and projects. SonicWall offer support in the form of video tutorials, a Knowledge Base and assistance from their security team via telephone contact lines.
SonicWall SMA 1000 is a solid enterprise-level VPN, which integrates seamlessly with other SonicWall solutions to provide enhanced network security and enable further features, such as real-time security updates via their Capture Threat Network and Security Center, or Firewall tools via their NetExtender. For this reason, we recommend SonicWall’s SMA 1000 series for existing customers of SonicWall looking to secure their remote employees, or other enterprises looking to invest in a wider range of products to build a broader security stack.
ZScaler is a market-leading vendor in cloud-based web security that scales to grow with the client’s organization. ZScaler Private Access (ZPA) is their zero-trust cloud-based solution that provides a seamless, secure connection between remote devices and private applications running on the public cloud or within a data center. It ensures that applications are never exposed to the internet, so that they’re completely inaccessible to unauthorized users. ZPA supports both managed and unmanaged devices, and secures the connection to any private application, not just web apps.
ZScaler Private Access is built on a zero-trust network access (ZTNA) foundation, which means that apps are connected to outbound to authorized users, rather than the network being extended as with some traditional VPNs. This means that IP addresses are always hidden and DDoS is impossible. Once authorized, users can access specific private apps without having to access the overall network, which reduces the risk of the lateral spread of ransomware. From the ZPA management portal admins have granular control over creating and defining policy names, selecting the applications that each policy is associated with, and configuring permissions for users and user groups down to individual application and user level. Additionally, ZPA uses the same ZScaler Client Connector app as their internet access solution, ZIA, to ensure that browser access is available for web apps.
ZPA’s solution takes a user- and application-centric approach to access security. The segmented connections between applications and user devices makes this solution particularly good at reducing lateral movement. Because it’s cloud-based, ZPA is quick to deploy and extremely scalable, so organizations don’t have to worry about using external hardware to upgrade their protection as they grow. We recommend ZScaler Private Access as a strong secure access solution for enterprises looking for seamless remote access for their employees that scales easily and helps to reduce the threat of ransomware attacks.
How Do VPNs Work?
You can think of a VPN as an encrypted tunnel. It makes a connection between your device and a host VPN server. You will then access data from the host VPN server, rather than from your own device directly. This effectively masks your device IP and location, allowing you to access content with immunity.
This tunnel is completely secure, meaning that no one can monitor the traffic that passes through the tunnel. Hackers will not be able to imbed malicious code on the traffic that is sent to your device whilst in transit.
What Are The Benefits Of Using A VPN?
- Allows you to access content without being identified. This is particularly useful for secure sectors, or journalists who may be at risk if their identity, or sources, were revealed.
- Disguises your location. As VPNs mask where your real location is, you can gain access to content that is geographically restricted.
- Prevents malicious actors from imbedding malware into your internet traffic – this is particularly useful if you need to log into public Wi-Fi networks
What Should You Be Aware Of When Using A VPN?
- Your connection might be slightly slower than if you weren’t using a VPN
- You should check that your VPN has a no-logs policy, otherwise it could catalogue your “anonymous” activities
- Some countries have banned VPNs
- Free VPNs can be insecure, or overwhelm you with adverts