Can Technological Advancement Fade Out VPN Usage in Cybersecurity?

According to the World Economic Forum’s 2020 Global Risks Report, cybercrime increased 600% as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, involving everything from theft and embezzlement to data hacking. The result? An increased lack of privacy and worries about information safety online have made corporations and individual internet users more aware of just how many threats they are exposed to when they access the web. 

As a result, cyber-attacks are anticipated to develop even more in 2022, with IoT cyberattacks alone projected to double by 2025. This increase in cyber-attacks is expected to drive the growth of the cybersecurity industry in the coming years. This includes the virtual private network (VPN) market, as VPN technologies are being adopted by major corporations to securely transfer data and reduce the risk of cyber-attacks.

VPNs in Cybersecurity

When talking about secure internet network connectivity, VPNs always make their way into the conversation. Whether to protect online traffic and data from cyber-criminals and the government or to access sites and content restricted by various authorities, VPNs grew to be a consumer favorite despite humble beginnings as workplace tools that allowed people remotely access and protect shared business resources.

The global virtual private network market is expected to grow from $38.56bn in 2021 to $45.89bn in 2022 and $91.20bn in 2026. The VPN industry is not remaining stagnant, however. VPN providers are increasing investments in VPN technologies to provide fast and uninterrupted internet connectivity and remote accessibility.

Advances in Cybersecurity Technology

In recent times, businesses have tried to up their cybersecurity setup in light of the frequency of cyber-attacks. Various advances in cybersecurity technology, from AI to antivirus software, have been touted as the best to level up a cybersecurity framework. Some have even called existing technology like VPN obsolete, preferring to use practices and technology such as firewalls, access control setups, application security, behavioral analytics, wireless security, intrusion prevention system and a fast favorite, zero trust network access (ZTNA). 

Much network security relies on firewalls to control incoming and outgoing network traffic, keep out unfriendly traffic, and even block malware and application-layer attacks. Though they work on restricting network traffic, they still cannot do the important work of securing the actual network and who can see what is being sent or received on it, which a strong quality VPN provider does.

Some cybersecurity experts propose behavioral analysis to know what normal system user behavior looks like so that any anomalies or breaches can quickly be detected as they happen. Behavioral analytics tools automatically identify any events that are not registered as normal.

Perhaps the greatest contender for VPN’s spot in the cybersecurity industry is the ZTNA model, which states that a user should have only the permissions and access they require to carry out their duties and nothing more. This is different from other traditional security technology and models, which grant users full access to the target system and networks. 

The issue, however, is that as cybersecurity technology advances, so does cybercrime technology. A lot of cybersecurity technology can still fall victim to the weakest link of the entire process – humans. Humans who fall for phishing scams and agree to conditions without reading them properly, still use ‘12345’ as their password for everything, send and receive sensitive information over unsecured networks and save the information in unsafe online applications and services. 

Though much of the technology today covers one or two of these bases, we still work over wireless networks every day. Wireless networks are not as secure as wired networks. They increasingly have their vulnerabilities exploited by cyber-criminals, and so the effort should not only be placed on which devices or individuals can access the network but the security of the network itself. 

Why VPNs Will Still Be Useful

VPNs are simple and easy to implement yet extremely effective in protecting online data traffic while disguising it through encryption. Even when protected at the doorway by various levels of authentication and firewalls, unencrypted data can still be viewed by anyone who has network access and wants to intercept it. With a VPN however, even if an unauthorized user somehow gets past the security to see the information, it is protected by encryption. 

A major reason VPN usage will not fade out anytime soon is the fact that it is so common. Even people who are not tech-savvy know of VPNs and their basic functionalities. They are easier to set up and begin using than other cybersecurity technology infrastructure. More often than not, cybersecurity measures fail because they are too complicated and involve too many moving parts, making people ignore them instead of going through the stress of implementing them or following such measures. A VPN takes that hassle out of cybersecurity. All a user has to do is install the VPN and let the provider take it from there, handling the infrastructure like servers needed for routing the traffic. 

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