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 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 organization need a VPN?
When you surf the internet on an unsecured Wi-Fi network, anyone else using the same network can tap into what you’re doing and access your browsing habits and private information. Firstly, by encrypting your connections, a VPN secures your online activity against anyone trying to access it without your 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, VPNs should allow 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 should 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 an enterprise 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 VPN solutions designed to protect enterprise 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.
The Top 10 Enterprise VPNs includes
- Cisco AnyConnect, Citrix Gateway, Fortinet, Google, NordVPN, Palo Alto, Perimeter 81, Pulse Secure, SonicWall and ZScaler
Secure, scalable VPN that offers protection for Android and iOS devices as well as desktops
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 Gateway (formerly NetScaler)
Quick, secure VPN access with single sign-on access to all apps and business resources
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 enterprise VPN 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.
Unobtrusive VPN, firewall, web content filter and endpoint protection with central management and remote deployment
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 Cloud VPN
Fast, secure VPN service with automatic maintenance and simple configuration and deployment options
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.
Secure VPN connection from any location supported by an expansive server network
NordVPN’s network covers over 3,000 servers in over 20 locations, which makes it one of the largest and most diverse in the industry. This allows their VPN to ensure connectivity to employees no matter their location. NordVPN Teams is their VPN solution for businesses and corporate users. With this solution, organizations benefit from NordVPN’s security and reliability as well as the expertise of a dedicated account manager.
NordVPN Teams secures remote and mobile devices in just one click, encrypting all data traffic 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 assigned to help with the ongoing management of the service. Users connect to the VPN with their existing business credentials but NordVPN Teams also offers third-party authentication with Azure AD, Google Workspace, Okta and OneLogin, should an organization require an extra layer of security.
NordVPN offers support through their website’s live chat feature as well as their support email, and their support team promise to respond to enquiries across all communication channels within three hours. NordVPN Teams is a cloud-based VPN solution, which means that it’s easily scalable and can provide protection within a few hours of purchase. With three available plans (Basic, Advanced and Enterprise), NordVPN Teams is an ideal solution for organizations of any size looking for user-friendly VPN with superior connectivity and a quick set-up.
Palo Alto Networks GlobalProtect
Easy-to-deploy VPN connection with granular access controls and a mobile-friendly app
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 Business VPN
User-friendly, intuitive VPN apps for most devices, with MFO and DNS filtering capabilities
Perimeter 81 is a network access and security vendor that specializes in cloud-based access security that scales to support organizations of any size. Their VPN solutions take minutes to deploy and are infinitely scalable, with over 30 data centers worldwide to ensure that the connection is reliable and available at all times. Perimeter 81 Business VPN allows organizations to protect their cloud environments, staging servers and company databases via secure connections to all remote devices.
Perimeter 81 uses its own software-designed perimeter (SDP) to restrict network access, including access to web applications and cloud environments. Admins can configure the perimeter to allow access to certain users on certain devices, so they have full visibility of who is accessing the network remotely. This visibility, along with configuration and team member access tools, are all easily accessible from one unified management portal. Enterprise customers also have access to activity audits and reports that allow admins to monitor login, gateway deployments and app connections. The zero-trust solution also features two-factor authentication for an added layer of protection against bad actors trying to hack into the connection. Perimeter 81 also features DNS filtering capabilities, which allow admins to block users from accessing specific sites through a web browser.
Perimeter 81 Business VPN is cloud-based, which means that organizations can scale their solution according to their company need without having to work with external hardware. It’s compatible with Windows Mac, iOS and Android, as well as Linux and Chromebook, to ensure that all devices are protected. We recommend Perimeter 81 Business VPN for organizations of any size with employees regularly working across multiple devices, and who have to switch between them frequently and quickly.
Pulse Connect Secure
Scalable VPN service with single sign-on features for easy access to applications and services
Pulse Secure is a secure access vendor that specializes in producing integrated cloud, mobile and network access solutions to enable seamless, secure connectivity. They secure over 21 million users worldwide, including 80% of Fortune 500 companies. Since acquiring MobileSpaces in 2014, Pulse Secure have expanded their offering to provide secure access from any device in any location. Pulse Secure Connect is Pulse Secure’s VPN solution, which provides zero trust secure access from any device to all network apps and cloud services.
Pulse Connect Secure is an SSL VPN that offers a simple, web-hosted interface. It doesn’t require any software installation, which reduces maintenance requirements and the strain on system resources. This also allows Pulse Connect Secure to provide secure on-site and remote access from a single universal client, which ensures that users have the same experience no matter where they’re located. Pulse Connect Secure also offers secure access to cloud platforms such as Microsoft Office 365, and its comprehensive single sign-on (SSO) feature means that users need only sign in once to access all cloud-based apps and data centers. The centralized management console provides admins with granular control over who can access which parts of the network, and on which devices they can gain access, as well as visibility into their security state.
Pulse Connect Secure provides secure, multi-factor authenticated access from any web-enabled device in any location. It offers optional integration with EMM/MDM services to enable enhanced policy enforcement, as well as many IDPs for further authentication layers. We recommend Pulse Connect Secure as a strong VPN solution for organizations of any size.
SonicWall Global VPN Client
Robust VPN service with excellent encryption capabilities and high-quality customer support
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 Global VPN Client (GVC) is one of SonicWall’s four VPN services. With this solution, organizations can allow managed devices to securely access their data centers with a familiar remote VPN experience.
SonicWall GVC 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 GVC 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 Global VPN Client 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 Private Access
Secure, segmented access to all apps from all devices that runs on lightweight software to reduce strain on system resources
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.