Any organization that doesn’t want to be overwhelmed by cyber threats and attacks must implement zero-trust security, especially as hackers are becoming more tech-savvy. The FBI Internet crime report for 2022 shows 300,497 complaints for phishing attacks alone, while total losses exceeded $10.3 billion.
The reason for these heightened cyberattacks is not farfetched; as more people browse the internet for information, the risk of exposure to hackers increases. People browse the web for online business transactions and to gather updates on prices and products. While we expect the increasing deployment of artificial intelligence and machine learning to help detect and prevent cyber threats, zero-trust security is the key to an overwhelming mitigation of cyber threats.
Zero-trust security can’t work perfectly without measures such as virtual private network (VPN) extensions; VPN extensions can be free or paid versions; they help organizations experiencing financial difficulties; free VPN extensions can be the magic wand for your Chrome, Safari, or Edge browsers.
What is a VPN extension?
Fundamentally, a VPN extension is similar to a VPN app; the two encrypt your data and internet connection and route it through a server in a different country or region. A VPN extension includes features such as log and internet protocol (IP) address encryption and multifactor authentication, which are critical to successful zero-trust security.
However, there are some fundamental differences between the two:
- A VPN app typically has more features than a VPN browser extension. A VPN app has more space to work with than a VPN extension because the restriction of a VPN App does not limit a VPN browser extension. Features you get from a VPN app include changing your IP address, choosing which server you want to connect to, and using multiple internet protocol (IP) addresses.
- A VPN app will enhance features such as a kill switch, which a VPN extension may not offer; the app will enable a disconnection from the internet if your VPN connection unexpectedly experiences downtime or drops. The Kill switch feature is vital in quitting preselected programs, reducing the chance of data compromise, and preventing data exposure if there’s an issue with the VPN.
- The stability and reliability of a VPN app are usually more than that of a VPN browser extension. The VPN app is not subject to the same restrictions as a VPN browser extension, which can often lead to crashes or other issues.
- A VPN app may be used on all your devices, whereas a VPN extension browser is for a specific browser, such as Chrome, Edge, or Safari. While a VPN app protects internet traffic for all your devices, the VPN extension can only restrict network communications within your browser.
The differences between VPN apps and VPN browser extensions notwithstanding, they offer several significant benefits.
- A VPN app or extension can help keep your data safe and secure by encrypting your IP address, implementing DNS/IPv6 leak protection, and internet connection; they ensure that a hacker, internet service provider (ISP), or any other third party can’t access your browsing history.
- Masking your IP address improves your privacy by making it difficult for a hacker, ISP, or a third party to track your online activity.
- You can use either a VPN app or VPN extension to bypass internet censorship and geo-restrictions; any of the two will enable you to access a wide range of websites and content.
The nature of your work will determine if you need to use a VPN app or VPN extension; you must complement the option with Zero-trust security to ensure the absolute world’s best standard cybersecurity.
Zero-trust strategy is a cybersecurity method that ensures you apply security policies based on context established through least-privileged access controls and strict employee authentication; you must not assume trust. Even if you have a VPN extension, combining it with a well-tuned zero-trust architecture will lead to simpler network infrastructure, a better user experience, and improved cyber threat defense.
The maxim of a zero-trust architecture is “don’t absolutely trust, verify always.” You must ensure that your access policies rely on context for a zero-trust architecture.
What are the employees’ roles in the organization? Do they work remotely or from the company? What devices do they use? What data do they require for their tasks?
All these will enable your organization to block inappropriate access.
With your VPN extension, you still require visibility and control over employees’ environment for a zero-trust architecture; your VPN extension will encrypt data, but you still need to monitor and verify the flow of information from your organization. Your VPN extension must enable multifactor authentication (MFA) methods beyond passwords, such as facial recognition, touch ID, or one-time codes.
Block all workloads until you can validate them with biometrics; don’t assume all is well with your VPN extension; regard all as hostile until you can verify.