Zscaler provides secure remote access without the need for a VPN

VPNs are the bane of many road warriors' existence and are susceptible to breaches. Does Zscaler have an answer?

Zscaler gives remote access without the need for a VPN

Traditionally the way an organization gives its remote employees access to corporate applications is via a Virtual Private Network (VPN). VPNs have never been a whole lot of fun to use, but as the world moves to ever higher numbers of discrete applications and a huge variety of access devices, the traditional VPN model is looking tired.

Zscaler aims to change that with Zscaler Private Access, a new service that promises organizations to provide access to internal applications and services while ensuring the security of their networks.

Zscaler is an internet security company. The company offers a secure web gateway, fully from the cloud. In doing so, Zscaler is helping to move security further out into the internet backbone. Indeed, Zscaler is operated from over 100 data centers globally. Zscaler covers a host of security needs, including internet security, next-generation firewall, web security, sandboxing/advanced persistent threat (APT) protection, data loss prevention, SSL inspection, traffic shaping, policy management and threat intelligence.

The company has more than 5,000 large companies using its products, including 50 of the Fortune 500. Zscaler claims that its products protect more than 15 million end users globally—and this new offering aims to increase that number.

The security issue  Zscaler is trying to resolve here is that typical VPN implementations give users access to the entire network they are connecting to, a fact that has been exploited in a number of recent security breaches featuring major companies.

Zscaler Private Access takes a new approach by decoupling applications from the physical network to deliver granular, per-user access to apps and services running on the internal corporate network, in a data center or in a public cloud. The service is based on Zscaler’s existing global cloud, so there is no requirement for additional hardware or forklift upgrades of existing hardware.

Customers are already using this technology in the wild, and they seem pretty happy:

MAN Diesel & Turbo “is always looking for the state of the art in security technology and have been searching for an alternative to our global VPN solution,” said Tony Fergusson, IT Infrastructure Architect for MAN Diesel & Turbo. “In general, legacy VPN technology is extremely complex, doesn't scale well and, most importantly, lacks application-centric security. Traditional VPNs extend the network perimeter to any user that connects, which is a security risk. Zscaler Private Access allows me to give users access to a single application and not to my entire network. This granular application control is also perfect for the growing demand of contractors and partner access.”

This looks like an interesting offering. I don't see it unseating the tried-and-true (and, admittedly, kind of horrible) VPN approach anytime soon, but as another tool in the enterprise IT toolbox, it looks useful.

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