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Hidden security risks

The 2021 Zscaler VPN Risk Report highlights growing security vulnerabilities around targeted social engineering, ransomware and malware attacks

For the last three decades, VPNs have been deployed to provide remote users with access to resources on corporate networks. However, the increased demand for remote work solutions, a shift to the cloud and advancements in digital transformation have uncovered increased incompatibility between VPNs and true zero trust security architectures. These incompatibilities, largely due to VPNs’ inherent need for access to the network, and need to be exposed to the Internet, have increased the enterprise attack surface allowing threat actors to exploit these legacy models based on their inherent trust of users.

The 2021 Zscaler VPN Risk Report published in collaboration with the Cybersecurity Insiders, highlights the current VPN usage by enterprises and uncovers the list of top challenges faced by IT administrators who manage VPNs. It recommends security alternatives that exist for network and security leaders wanting to provide fast, seamless and secure access to business apps without compromising their existing zero trust security strategies, and includes data that provides a glimpse into the role that zero trust will play in the future of remote access.

The survey findings show:
* 93% of companies surveyed have deployed VPN services, despite 94% of those surveyed admitting that they are aware that cybercriminals are exploiting VPNs to access network resources.
* Respondents indicated that social engineering (75%), ransomware (74%), and malware (60%) are the most concerning attack vectors and are often used to exploit users accessing VPNs.
* With nearly three out of four businesses concerned with VPN security, 67% of organisations are considering remote access alternatives to the traditional VPN.
* As a result of growing VPN security risks, 72% of companies are prioritising the adoption of a zero trust security model, while 59% have accelerated their efforts due to the focus on remote work.
* Looking at the future need for zero trust services, the report states that 77% of respondents indicated that their workforce will be hybrid, with greater flexibility for users to work remotely or in the office.