In today’s fast-paced digital business environment, network security is paramount. With the sea of options to choose from, it’s difficult to pick the one cybersecurity solution responsible for the most sensitive communication channels.
Organizations are looking for flexibility and versatility. Various questions about how a new tool will work with their existing solutions are something that needs to be addressed in advance.
Let’s look at NordLayer and see whether it’s a solution that passes the expected mark for a product that tackles network access security.
What is NordLayer?
NordLayer, a product by the esteemed Nord Security, encapsulates the essence of next-gen network security. Originally launched as NordVPN Teams and rebranded in September 2021, NordLayer has swiftly carved a niche for itself in a competitive business cybersecurity market.
Already covering 8,000+ organizations, it’s evident that businesses have quickly recognized its unparalleled value.
Scalability and Integration
When it comes to remote work, balancing user collaboration with security measures is a challenging task. This means that NordLayer needs to achieve several things at once: seamlessly integrate into the current organization’s setup while also providing scalability for fast-growing organizations.
In this regard, NordLayer enhances enterprise network security architecture, regardless of the existing infrastructure or other service providers your company utilizes. As a cloud-native remote network access tool, NordLayer seamlessly integrates with leading operating systems, major service providers, and identity and access management platforms.
The service also allows the management of network access for teams regardless of size and monitors the number of devices connecting to the company’s network. This is intended for virtual setups catering to remote, hybrid, and on-site teams. It ensures work in unison, encrypting data transactions and safeguarding the company’s digital resources.
NordLayer offers a wide range of plans at different price levels.
Lite plan. Basic threat prevention at $10/user monthly or $96 annually, saving $24.
Core plan. Advanced internet security suite at $14/month or $132/year, saving $36.
Premium plan. Robust network access control with detailed segmentation and site & device interconnectivity at $18/month or $168/year, saving $48.
Custom plan. Custom-made NordLayer variant. A quote is needed via free consultation with NordLayer specialists.
Compared to competitors, these rates appear reasonable. Yet, all plans require a minimum of 5 accounts. NGOs can avail discounts, and centralized billing allows for a consolidated payment for all services.
The savings for yearly subscriptions and the option for a customized plan further exemplify its dedication to flexible, customer-centric solutions.
As a business VPN, NordLayer not only involves standard features like masking your IP address but also numerous functionalities that many businesses will find valuable. These include:
❇️ Network Security: With options like Virtual Private Gateways, Fixed IP, and Cloud Firewall, businesses get granular control over their network, allowing for bespoke settings that fit each organization’s unique needs.
❇️ Internet Access Security: Features like Shared Gateways, ThreatBlock, and DNS filtering by category ensure that organizations remain insulated from a myriad of cyber threats lurking online.
❇️ User Authentication & Management: Incorporating multi-layered authentication processes like MFA and biometric authentication further strengthens NordLayer’s security prowess.
❇️ Network Monitoring: The Activity Monitoring reports and Device Posture Monitoring offers real-time insights, ensuring administrators remain in the loop always.
❇️ Security Controls: From Auto-connect to Always On VPN, the automated features guarantee that businesses enjoy persistent protection without manual interventions.
Moreover, the compatibility with popular IAM providers like Azure AD, Okta, and Google Workspace and the unique browser extension specifically designed for cloud-based resource access makes it all the more appealing.
Ease of Use
NordLayer provides a user-friendly Control Panel that enhances administrative efficiency through centralized billing, license transferability, and multi-vendor network integration. The web-based Control Panel, designed with beginners in mind, allows administrators to invite members, manage teams and gateways, delegate roles, integrate third-party systems, and oversee network activity.
Its streamlined interface comprises four sections: Organization for team and member management, Network for gateway and server details, Settings for features like Smart Remote Access, and Downloads for accessing NordLayer applications and configuration instructions.
It has a number of security solutions under its hood, such as:
Hybrid Work Security
Secure Remote Access
Device Posture Security
SAAS security, etc.
However, in this article, I’ll cover its Business VPN, SASE, Cloud Firewall, Device Posture Security, and Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA).
#1. Business VPN
Business VPN, in a nutshell, is a mandatory secure gateway for your employees to access enterprise resources.
And since this is end-to-end encrypted, every piece of information remains anonymous and secure from the prying eyes of cybercriminals. The best part is this security extends to every inch of your corporate network and on all devices, even if the end-user is on public WiFi.
In addition, this is access-controlled, including passwords and/or multi-factor authentication. And once a user gets inside, there are role-based permissions to the business resources based on the username, IP address, etc.
But not everything on a user device is top-secret. So, you get split-tunneling to route non-sensitive traffic without encryption. This feature helps keep servers free from unnecessary load while prioritizing important stuff.
Another excellent feature is site-to-site connections, which are useful for geographically spread out companies. This creates an encrypted tunnel for secure data exchange among people on different networks. Besides, NordLayer can work site-to-site in both use cases, intranet and extranet.
NordLayer business VPN integrates with major cloud providers, including Azure, Google Workspace, AWS, Okta, Google Cloud, etc.
Lastly, this is powered with industry-leading, bank-grade AES 256-bit encryption.
#2. Secure Access Service Edge (SASE)
SASE is a cybersecurity blanket that caters to a modern, post-pandemic era of a globally dispersed workforce.
Based on a Zero Trust Approach, the idea is to secure all end-points via protocols like Firewall as a Service (FWAAS), Secure Web Gateway (SWG), Cloud Access Security Broker (CASB), Software-defined WAN (SD-WAN), etc.
Let’s understand each of these briefly.
This is a cloud firewall implementation that guards access to enterprise resources. FWAAS works similarly to an on-premise firewall, just that it operates for the company’s cloud and in-house assets, which fits many present cases.
The benefits are hardware-less design, easy implementation, and auto-updates. It’s easy to create rules applicable to individuals or teams defining who gets access to a specific internal or external resource.
In a nutshell, NordLayer’s Secure Web Gateway protects devices and enterprise applications from malware with its ThreatBlock Technology. This security is underpinned by its database of malicious websites and phishing links, which restricts any unaware user from becoming a victim.
This will enable browsers to have separate encrypted connections that hide traffic content, its origin, and its destination in case of any cyber attack. In addition to the robust AES 256-bit encryption, it masks a user’s IP address via shared or virtual private gateways. Besides, it allows DNS-based filtering and provides dedicated servers for unparalleled privacy.
CASB simply validates access to work resources and allows or rejects incoming requests accordingly. This integrates threat prevention, data encryption, identity and access management (IAM), and single sign-on (SSO) to bring a resource gateway that is secure yet simple.
SD-WAN optimizes multiple wide-area networks with software-based networking for high performance and security. This takes benefit of global points of presence for faster speeds via load balancing.
In addition, this directly routes traffic to SAAS providers from branch offices without backhauling traffic to data centers. This helps in avoiding the wastage of company resources.
#3. Cloud Firewall
Since the notion of on-premise hardware is diminishing gradually, Cloud Firewalls exist to safeguard companies internet accessible assets. This is nothing but the well-known Firewall-as-a-service (FWaas) designed to protect your cloud infrastructure from unauthorized access.
Likewise, NordLayer’s Cloud Firewall can help you safely access on-premise hardware remotely. It also paves the way for granular user access to business assets and DNS-based filtering to keep inappropriate content out of the company network.
The best part is its adaptability to a hybrid cloud atmosphere and the ease with which you can apply firewall rules.
Besides, being a cloud product, one need not bother about any hardware. It’s easy to integrate into your products and scalable as per the evolving business needs. You can effortlessly manage its application from a centralized control panel.
Cloud Firewall comes under NordLayer’s Security Service Edge (SSE) framework, including other elements, such as CASB, SWG, and ZTNA.
#4. Device Posture Security
Device Posture Security is a 360-degree security envelope covering every device linked to your business network. In short, it lets you lay standards for every incoming device and take necessary action if they don’t match those security levels.
At its core, it’s about the central management of all connected devices and verifying that they qualify for the pre-set security criteria.
You can choose between the available set of rules, and it notifies you of every incoming connection request. One can keep tabs on the software updates of every business device to ensure top-notch security. This also includes the operating system and the NordLayer applications.
In addition, it flags any rooted or jailbroken device and allows blocking of such non-compliant devices. Lastly, you get the reports for historical analysis.
#5. Zero Trust
It’s a process of relentless validation of the network access to internal assets and data by ruling out any pre-defined trust relationships. This approach treats internal and external traffic with equal suspicion.
Zero Trust includes IAM, network access control, segmentation, and security.
Its IAM module consists of two-factor authentication, SSO, biometric logins, etc. Devices security checks for vulnerable user devices and notifies the network admin immediately. Likewise, application access is controlled via IP allowlisting and site-to-site dedicated connections.
In addition, Zero Trust offers AES-256-bit encryption, diskless servers (i.e., no data storage), and activity monitoring for 360-degree security and privacy.
To sum up, NordLayer proves that business cybersecurity tools don’t have to be complex to be useful.
Prioritizing Security Service Edge (SSE) principles and the Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA) approach, NordLayer not only meets but exceeds the high standards set by NordVPN. For businesses eager to invest in top-tier network security, NordLayer is undoubtedly a formidable choice.