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What are the alternatives to VPN?

NetworkTigers discusses the alternatives to VPN.

Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) are the most commonly used solutions for securing remote network connectivity, with an estimated 1.2 billion people worldwide using them for security or data privacy. They also enhance your online privacy and security and help you access region-blocked websites and other forms of censorship.

However, they have limitations that negatively impact network security and performance. For example, VPN service providers may sell your information to third parties. Unstable connections may result in being denied access to certain websites due.

What are the alternatives to VPN?

SmartDNS

SmartDNS allows you to access geo-restricted websites by rerouting your Domain Name Server (DNS) requests to a proxy server. While it’s not as secure as VPNs, it is much more affordable and faster.

SmartDNS streams channels from anywhere worldwide and helps your computer unblock websites once deployed. All you have to do is connect your device over a WiFi connection or a network cable.

The only significant difference between SmartDNS and VPNs is that the former does not need a dedicated app. No dedicated app means you can install SmartDNS on any device.

For instance, if your VPN doesn’t have an application compatible with LG’s OS, you can use it on your LG television. SmartDNS is perfect for lightweight devices with less processing power because it has almost no overhead.

This service is an excellent option for media streaming since you get fast speeds. However, it should not be treated as a like-for-like alternative to VPN because it is unsuitable for security. Your information may be at risk since there’s no encryption, and it does not hide your IP address.

Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA)

Zero Trust Network Access is a technology that treats all devices as untrustworthy. ZTNA relies on a centralized policy server to access the network as it uses a network access control system that controls the network.

It also uses a cloud-hosted service for remote employees and provides access rights depending on their location and role within your company. This makes it easier for your IT team to monitor user rights from a central location. 

ZNTA is relevant in corporate setups and larger businesses. ZNTA helps tech professionals within your company secure networks without micromanaging each device.

Similar to VPNs, ZTNA’s performance depends on the design of its deployment and remote and local infrastructure. Compared to the average VPN, ZTNA provides higher levels of security.

ZNTA is excellent for managing remote worker access and securing communications between several branch offices. It is not ideal for home use.

Proxy servers

Proxy servers act as intermediaries between you and the internet. You can use them to bypass firewalls and access blocked services, content, or sites. Keep in mind that proxy service providers offer different service levels.

However, most provide geo-unblocking capabilities, easy access, and minimum security. VPNs and proxy servers are pretty similar as they involve a connection to a remote server and all web access is via that connection. 

From there, your device “adopts” the proxy server’s profile that masks it from harmful requests on the internet. The drawback is that most people look for free proxies as alternatives to VPNs, which may be dangerous. 

These servers are poorly managed and may steal your information instead of protecting it. Proxy server connections are also unencrypted, which increases your risk profile. 

While some proxy servers are secure, they require a service fee, so you may as well invest in a VPN. Additionally, proxy servers cannot access media streaming services because many users use the same IP address.

Streaming services such as Netflix can identify proxy server users easily and block them. Ideally, do not consider a proxy server as a long-term solution.

Only use them when a VPN is unavailable and you want to access blocked content. The exception is if a reputable company provides the proxy server and you want faster speeds for downloading files.

Cloud VPN service

Cloud VPN is a type of SaaS (Software-as-a-Service). When you use an application with this service, storage management, and power processing become remote. This helps minimize the burden on local devices, saving costs and enhancing resource efficiency. 

Cloud VPNs are higher-level infrastructure services that go beyond the data transfer capabilities of a VPN. To help you understand this, consider what VPNs require to encrypt data.

Usually, the encryption is local, meaning VPN speed partially relies on your device. But everything is on remote servers with cloud VPNs. 

Cloud VPN is a hybrid of VPN and ZTNA rolled into one but simplified. Although most home users can’t sign up for these services because of the VPN gateway, the affordable fee compared to ZTNA makes Cloud VPN perfect for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

The onion router (Tor)

Tor is a free service that directs internet traffic via a worldwide network of servers to hide user usage and location from anyone performing traffic analysis or network surveillance. 

Tor conceals the destination and source of your information, making tracing more difficult. This service also makes it more challenging for people to track your internet activity by making it look like you’re using the internet from a location different from your country. 

This masking can be helpful when you want to access services or sites unavailable in specific regions or countries, for example, YouTube.

Both Tor and VPN offer anonymity, but they do so differently. VPN safeguards your data on all sides, while Tor doesn’t completely block access to your information, as it constantly changes to make monitoring more difficult.

Also, the long route your information takes may result in slower internet access due to the way Tor works. Lastly, if you want control over your location, Tor isn’t a suitable option because of the random route.

So, you can’t simply choose a server and adopt its identity. While there are cases when Tor isn’t the best solution for your needs, it deserves a place in your digital toolkit if you want to visit certain websites from a different IP address with the assurance that your anonymity is protected.

Conclusion

VPNs are great for browsing the internet. However, some alternatives offer similar levels of privacy and security for businesses and corporations.

Cheaper solutions may increase risk in some cases and are often less capable. Your best move is to invest in reputable VPN companies like Cisco for the long run since you can only use VPN alternatives in limited scenarios. 

Maclean Odiesa
Maclean Odiesa
Maclean is a tech freelance writer with 7+ years in content strategy and development. She is also a pillar pages specialist and SEO expert.

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