The use of internet censorship circumvention or anti-proxy tools such as personal VPN and anonymous proxy applications is on the rise. This trend is primarily fueled by internet users' increasing privacy concerns and the wish to circumvent internet censorship controls imposed by their workplace, school, or government to access otherwise restricted content, such as social media and streaming services like Netflix. Global Web Index has found that more than 56% of all VPN users access Netflix each month.
Personal VPNs and anonymous proxies undoubtedly offer internet users much freedom, but these applications can be a real problem when used by employees to access the organization’s network.
Read on to learn the dangers personal VPNs and anonymous proxies pose to organizations or watch our latest video for a quick warm-up 😉
The Risks of VPNs and Anonymous Proxies
Higher Costs and Lower Productivity
By circumventing the organization’s network access policies in what is known as proxy avoidance, employees who use VPNs and anonymous proxies are free to browse social media sites and applications that may otherwise be blocked, leading to low productivity. They can also stream large high-definition videos, which takes valuable bandwidth away from workloads and systems, which results in lagging or even disruptive downtime. IT administrators may even be misled to purchase additional bandwidth without the means to detect these tools.
Expose Network to Cyber-Attack
A much more severe consequence of proxy avoidance is the introduction of threats into the network, leaving organizations at risk of cyber-attack. VPNs and anonymous proxies enable employees’ devices to become invisible to IT administrators and circumvent the various defenses that protect the network from malicious activity. For example, the organization’s firewall is rendered useless when a VPN-connected employee inadvertently clicks a malicious link in a phishing email, introducing malware into the network. Vulnerabilities ranging from medium to critical in severity have also been discovered in several mainstream VPNs (such as Private Internet Access VPN, ExpressVPN, NordVPN, CyberGhost VPN, and Proton VPN), allowing attackers a direct route into the network.
Sensitive Data Leakage
Apart from allowing users to bypass security controls, VPNs and anonymous proxy applications give users access to network resources that may otherwise be restricted, such as sensitive data beyond their authority. This increases the risk of employees, either accidentally or intentionally, leaking sensitive information and data. Several VPN applications have also been found to keep a log of user traffic data (despite claiming the contrary), with instances where this data has been sold to third parties. Evidently, the risk of a sensitive data leak is very real, which can lead to loss of competitive advantage, reputational damage, and non-compliance penalties among other serious consequences.
What IT administrators urgently need is the means to detect and block VPN and proxy avoidance applications trying to connect to the network.
Disable VPNs and Anonymous Proxies with Sangfor Application Containment
Sangfor Application Containment takes application and network enforcement to the next level by correlating the behavior of endpoints, containers, and workloads with network behavior to provide administrators with complete visibility of application activity.
With Application Containment, Sangfor Endpoint Secure sends the top 300 running programs running on the endpoint, including any VPN and anti-proxy applications, to Sangfor NGAF or IAG. Application Containment policies can be created on NGAF and IAG to block or monitor specific applications. Proxy Avoidance Protection, a subset of Application Containment, leverages a comprehensive library of anonymous proxy applications (e.g., Ultrasurf, Psiphon, Freegate), VPNs, and anonymous browsers to create granular blocking and monitoring policies enforced by the Endpoint Secure Protect Agent.
True Correlation for Total Protection
Sangfor Application Containment is the only true solution where network and endpoint (whether on-premise or in the cloud) truly work together to identify, control, and report on both allowed and malicious applications running on endpoints and communicating across the network. Sangfor NGAF, IAG, and Endpoint Secure correlate to provide real-time visualization and blocking of VPNs, anonymous proxies, and any malicious application communications throughout the network, which is vital for preventing lateral propagation of ransomware, malware, and APT.
To learn how you can take back control from rogue applications and secure your business with Sangfor Application Containment, please visit: https://www.sangfor.com/cloud-and-infrastructure/solutions/proxy-avoidance-protection
Founded in 2000 and a publicly traded company as of 2018 (STOCK CODE: 300454.SZ), Sangfor Technologies is an APAC-based, global leading vendor specializing in Cyber Security, Cloud Computing, and IT infrastructure. Visit us at www.sangfor.com to learn more about Sangfor’s solutions and let Sangfor make your Digital Transformation Simpler and Secure.