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A Beginner’s Guide to VPN vs ZTNA

  • 30 May 2024
  • 3 min read

Feature image- A Beginner’s Guide to VPN vs ZTNA

The shift to remote and hybrid work during and after the COVID-19 pandemic pushed companies to rethink remote access to their corporate networks. While Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) have long been the standard for secure remote access, they were designed for a time when networks were simpler and more contained. 

Today, with applications and data spread across multi-cloud and hybrid environments, the attack surface has expanded significantly. This new landscape has brought Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA) into focus as a more secure alternative to VPNs. This blog will help you understand the key differences between VPN and ZTNA and how important it is to select the best remote access solution for your organization.

Understanding VPN: Traditional Remote Access

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is a tool that allows employees to securely access their company's network from anywhere. It creates a private, encrypted connection over the internet, making it seem like the user is directly connected to the company's internal network. This helps keep sensitive data safe. 

VPNs have been widely used for years to enable remote work, but they were designed when company resources were mostly kept within a secure network perimeter. As technology has evolved and more resources are now stored in the cloud, the limitations of traditional VPNs have become more apparent.

The Evolution of Network Security: Introduction to ZTNA

Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA) is a modern approach to network security that assumes no one, whether inside or outside the network, should be trusted by default. Unlike traditional VPNs, which grant broad access once a user is authenticated, ZTNA verifies each access request individually and limits access to only the specific resources needed. 

This approach reduces the risk of unauthorized access and better protects data spread across various cloud and hybrid environments. As cyber threats have grown and work environments have become more complex, ZTNA has become a popular alternative for securing remote access.

A Beginner’s Guide to VPN vs ZTNA

ZTNA: Key Insights

Market Growth Rate: The Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA) market is estimated to grow at a CAGR of 12.86% during the forecast period from 2024 to 2029.

Drivers for Adoption: Adoption of cloud computing and security enhancements are significant drivers behind the substantial growth of the ZTNA market, with organizations increasingly relying on ZTNA to safeguard remote access to applications and services as they migrate to the cloud.

Regional Dominance: North America is anticipated to hold a significant share of the ZTNA market, driven by strong growth in cloud computing adoption and government investments in cloud security, particularly in response to cybersecurity threats.

A Beginner’s Guide to VPN vs ZTNA-1

Key Differences Between VPN and ZTNA



VPN (Virtual Private Network)

ZTNA (Zero Trust Network Access)

Access Control

Grants broad network access once authenticated

Limits access to specific applications and resources

Security Model

Trusts users inside the network; less stringent

Assumes no implicit trust; verifies each request

User Authentication

Single authentication allows broad access

Continuous verification of identity and access

Network Perimeter

Designed for fixed network perimeters

Designed for distributed, cloud-based environments


Limited scalability; requires extensive infrastructure

Highly scalable; adapts to cloud and hybrid networks

Attack Surface

Larger attack surface due to broad access

Reduced attack surface with restricted access

Deployment Complexity

Can be complex to deploy and manage

Simplifies management with policy-based access control

Resource Access

Typically all-or-nothing access to network segments

Granular access to specific applications


Less flexible in dynamic environments

Highly flexible, adapts to changing conditions

Monitoring and Logging

Basic monitoring and logging

Advanced monitoring with detailed access logs

Benefits of ZTNA Over VPN

Enhanced Security: ZTNA assumes zero trust by default, verifying each access request individually, and reducing the risk of unauthorized access.

Granular Access Control: ZTNA provides specific access to only the applications and resources needed, unlike VPNs which grant broad network access.

Reduced Attack Surface: By limiting access to necessary resources, ZTNA minimizes potential entry points for cybercriminals.

Better Scalability: ZTNA easily adapts to cloud and hybrid environments, making it more scalable than traditional VPNs.

Improved Flexibility: ZTNA is designed for modern, distributed networks, providing better support for remote and hybrid work scenarios.

Continuous Verification: ZTNA continuously verifies user identity and access, enhancing security compared to VPN's one-time authentication.

Simplified Management: Policy-based access control in ZTNA simplifies management and reduces complexity for IT teams.

Advanced Monitoring: ZTNA offers detailed access logs and advanced monitoring, improving visibility and security response capabilities.

Challenges and Considerations When Adopting ZTNA

Implementation Complexity: Setting up ZTNA can be complex and may require significant changes to existing infrastructure.

Cost: Initial deployment of ZTNA can be expensive, including costs for new software, hardware, and training.

Integration: Ensuring ZTNA works smoothly with current systems and applications can be challenging.

User Experience: Users might face a learning curve and initial resistance as they adapt to new access protocols.

Policy Management: Creating and maintaining detailed access policies requires continuous effort and expertise.

Vendor Selection: Choosing the right ZTNA solution from various vendors can be difficult and time-consuming.

Security Gaps: Incomplete or improper implementation might leave security gaps, undermining the benefits of ZTNA.

Performance: Ensuring that ZTNA does not negatively impact network performance and user productivity is crucial.

Future Trends in Remote Access Security

Increased Adoption of Zero Trust Models: More organizations will adopt Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA) to enhance security by continuously verifying users and limiting access to only necessary resources.

Integration of AI and Machine Learning: Advanced technologies like AI and machine learning will be used to detect and respond to threats more quickly and accurately, improving overall security.

Greater Focus on Cloud Security: As remote work continues to grow, securing cloud-based applications and data will become a top priority, driving innovations in cloud security solutions.

How PureDome Works

PureDome provides secure remote access by using a Zero Trust approach. It continuously verifies user identity and controls access to specific applications and resources. This ensures that only authorized users can access the necessary data, reducing the risk of unauthorized access and enhancing overall security.

Frequently Asked Questions
What is Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA)?

ZTNA is a modern security approach that verifies each access request individually, regardless of the user's location or network.

How does ZTNA differ from traditional VPNs?

Unlike VPNs, which grant broad network access once authenticated, ZTNA provides specific access to only the necessary applications and resources.

Why is ZTNA important for remote work security?

ZTNA enhances security by reducing the attack surface, continuously verifying user identity and access, and offering granular access control in dynamic environments.