In the late 1990s, VPN technology revolutionized remote work. However, the traditional VPN model has become outdated and unworkable as the world becomes increasingly mobile and cloud-based. The need for a new cybersecurity system has been growing for years.

Businesses now require secure and usable solutions for remote access. This is where Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA) comes in. Let’s explore how ZTNA replaces VPNs for remote access and why this change is noteworthy.

Virtual Private Networks (VPN) and Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA) are both ways to make sure that network resources are accessible safely, but they are very different in how they work and how they are built.

VPNs offer a safe way to connect to the internet, but ZTNA works based on a person’s name and gives them secure access to certain apps and services using the concept of least privilege.

Key Features of ZTNA

  • ZTNA helps ensure security rules are followed and lowers the risk of a breach because only approved users can get into the network. This keeps workers from using unmanaged devices to join the company network in a way that isn’t safe.
  • ZTNA is a highly scalable and cost-effective cloud-based security system for multiple tenants. It’s now possible to deploy in hours instead of months.
  • Another good thing is that IT workers don’t have to consider setting up or maintaining things by hand.
  • Networks can be divided into segments to stop people who aren’t supposed to be there from getting in or moving around. Over 61% of leaks were caused by stolen passwords.
  • A ZTNA controller can let users in or keep them out based on their jobs and rights, which makes it much harder for hackers to get in.

ZTNA vs VPN: Understanding the Differences

Understanding the Differences Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA) and Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) have some similarities and some notable differences. For instance, while VPNs have been around since the 1990s, ZTNA is a more recent approach to securing remote connections. 

One of the key aspects of ZTNA is that it focuses on the principle of minimum necessary access rather than traditional network access. A major difference between the two is that with VPNs, users are authenticated once and then placed on the network. At the same time, ZTNA validates users and devices continuously and only grants access to specific, authorized applications. 

This is because ZTNA provides better security and easy scaling compared to VPNs, which are harder to scale. Another difference is that ZTNA is becoming more than just network-centric controls based on identity. 

ZTNA is becoming more data- and security-centric, where DLP policies can be applied to all outbound files to prevent any malicious or inadvertent data leaks. The authentication process between ZTNA and VPN is also different. 

With ZTNA, the connection between the user and the application is at an Application (Layer-7) layer, allowing the user access to only the application based on the context of the device, user, and application. 

On the other hand, VPNs rely on traditional network access and can be less secure. Overall, ZTNA provides better security and user satisfaction and is more usable than VPNs. ZTNA becomes the preferred choice for connecting users remotely as remote work increases. The next section’ll discuss why ZTNA is superior to VPNs.


A VPN allows remote access to the network as if the user were present by creating a secure, encrypted tunnel between the device and the network. The traditional security approach trusts network users.ZTNA follows “never trust, always verify.” Not any user or device, regardless of location, is trusted. Identity verification, context, and security regulations determine resource access.
VPNs often provide extensive network access after authentication. If a user’s credentials are hacked, attackers can access broad areas of the network.It allows just need-to-know connections to certain applications or services, not the whole network. This reduces internal lateral mobility and attack surface.
Uses the outdated premise that everything on the network is secure and trustworthy.Takes a more current security approach, understanding attacks might come from inside and outside the network.
Users may notice reduced speeds owing to data traveling via the VPN server.Direct links to apps and services without an intermediary can improve user experience.
Simple to install but difficult to grow, especially with a remote workforce.It’s harder to set up since it needs knowing the network’s applications and resources and creating access control policies.

ZTNA – The Superior Choice

The Superior Choice Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA) is becoming increasingly popular in today’s cloud, and mobile-first world, and for good reason. Compared to legacy VPNs, ZTNA reduces the attack surface significantly and prevents lateral movement, providing a more secure environment overall.

User satisfaction with ZTNA is higher, thanks to faster and easier access to applications compared to VPNs. The company that switched from VPN to ZTNA reported rave reviews from users, with an average rating of 4.8 out of 5.0.

Unlike VPNs, which require backhauling user traffic through a corporate data center and slowing down internet performance, ZTNA connects users directly to private applications, making them more usable. By shifting towards a more data and security-centric approach, ZTNA provides better security, easy scaling, and smooth onboarding and manageability. 

It is far more than network-centric controls and identity-based. With the application determining who can access its contents, the user and device are continuously validated and granted access based on contextual information. ZTNA also allows for data loss prevention (DLP) policies to be applied to all outbound files, preventing any malicious or inadvertent data leaks. 

Myth Busting ZTNA and VPN

Myth Busting ZTNA and VPN There are a lot of misconceptions surrounding ZTNA and VPN technologies. One of the biggest is that ZTNA and Zero Trust are the same. 

While ZTNA is the first use case of Zero Trust, it’s important to remember that it is a set of architectural principles based on “always verify then trust”. Regarding remote access, ZTNA is far better suited than VPN.

ZTNA provides better security, easy scaling out, and smooth onboarding and manageability, making it ideal for today’s cloud- and mobile-first world. On the other hand, VPNs have many different use cases beyond remote access. 

While there may be technological differences in the actual implementations of VPN and ZTNA, they use the same encryption, key generation, and authentication algorithms, meaning neither is inherently more secure. 

 ZTNA goes beyond network-centric controls and is becoming increasingly data- and security-centric, allowing for more effective DLP policies and preventing malicious or inadvertent data leaks. It’s important to note that ZTNA does not always require a client. ZTNA can use browser-native capabilities and plugins for web applications to create secure connectivity for the end user. With all of these myths debunked, it’s clear that ZTNA is the future, and the time for VPNs has passed.


The antiquated VPN model is losing ground to Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA). Born out of the need for secure and efficient solutions for remote access, ZTNA outshines VPNs with its focus on minimal necessary access and continuous user validation. 

Unlike VPNs, which authenticate users once and grant network access, ZTNA ensures secure connections by validating users and devices continuously, providing access only to authorized applications.

ZTNA’s shift towards a data and security-centric approach enhances DLP policies, preventing data leaks. With superior security, user satisfaction, and ease of use, ZTNA is emerging as the preferred choice, signaling the end of the VPN era.


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