Saturday, November 26, 2022

NordLayer: Network Security Review

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The global trend toward remote work puts heavy strain on IT teams managing legacy VPN networks and trying to secure cloud resources. NordLayer provides corporations of all sizes with secure connections between their remote users and both their cloud and local resources.

As a cloud-based solution, NordLayer delivers fully scalable resources that place limited additional burden on the IT team of an organization at predictable costs. 

See below to learn all about NordLayer and where it stands in the network security sector: 

Review of NordLayer

NordLayer and the network security market

NordLayer competes in the secure access services edge (SASE) and virtual private network (VPN) niches of the broader network security market.

Fortune Business Insights estimates that the global value of the network security market reached $20.30 billion in 2021 and would grow to $53.11 billion by 2029 — a 13% compound annual growth rate (CAGR). Comparatively, Markets and Markets estimated an 11% growth rate in 2019, while Allied Market Research projected a CAGR of 16.7% in the same year.

The network security market includes various solutions: such as, firewalls; antivirus software; network access control (NAC); intrusion detection systems (IDS) and intrusion prevention systems (IPS); unified threat management (UTM); and the mitigation of distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks. Moreover, key market players include enterprises, such as Cisco, IBM, Juniper Networks, Trend Micro, Symantec, and Solarwinds.

Allied Market Research estimated the more narrow global VPN market to be valued at $25.41 billion in 2019, with a CAGR of 14.7%, and Research and Markets estimated a CAGR of 15.3% in 2020. NordLayer’s competitors in this market include some enterprises, such as Cisco, Google, Juniper Networks, and Microsoft as well as more focused competitors, such as OpenVPN, CyberGhost, Express VPN, and Pango.

The more narrow SASE market was estimated to be valued at $666 million with a CAGR of 36.4% in 2020 by Grand View Research, and Markets and Markets recognized a $1.2 billion market in 2021, with a CAGR of 26.4%. Similar to the VPN market, enterprises such as Cisco, VMware, Palo Alto, and Broadcom compete against specialist companies, such as Cato Networks, Netskope, Perimeter 81, and Aryaka.

NordLayer is a division of Nord Security. Nord Security raised $100 million in 2022, which valued the company at $1.6 billion. This privately held company is also the parent company to NordVPN, NordLocker, NordWL, and NordPass.

See more: The Network Security Market

NordLayer key features

Support

  • 24/7 live support

Multilayer security

  • Auto-connection to secure VPN with the establishment of an internet connection
  • End-to-end AES 256-bit encryption
  • Jailbroken/rooted device detection
  • Single sign-on (SSO) with Google, Azure AD, Okta, and OneLogin
  • Site-to-site dedicated gateways for internal business local area network (LAN)
  • Two-factor authentication (2FA)
  • ThreatBlock offers embedded protection against malware and viruses

Purchase dedicated servers with up to 1 Gbps speed

  • Choose between 20+ dedicated server locations
  • Dedicated IP, servers, and gateways
  • IP whitelisting
  • Custom DNS
  • Network segmentation
  • Site-to-site VPN
  • Smart Remote Access via a virtual LAN
  • Biometrics

Flexible operation

  • Integrates with major operating systems, such as Android, iOS, Windows, macOS, and Linux as well as multicloud resources
  • Centralized settings and billing
  • Flexible payment methods for bank transfers and credit cards
  • Prorated fee for added users based upon current contracts
  • Transferable licenses to new users
  • 100% cloud-native advantages, including unlimited number of users and no traffic limitations
  • Upgrade plans at any time through the control panel
  • Shared access to 30+ global server locations
  • Kill switch protects data traffic from exposure in the event of VPN disruption

    NordLayer UI servers screenshot.
    The servers section of the NordLayer UI. Courtesy NordLayer.

NordLayer key benefits

Organizations looking for network security, including SASE and VPN solutions, from NordLayer seek some of the following benefits:

Affordable scalability

In-house VPNs can only handle a limited number of users and traffic before they begin to create traffic delays that affect video conference calls and other high-bandwidth applications. Acquiring and setting up new VPN connections can be expensive and time-consuming, but a web-based software-as-a-service (SaaS) VPN can obtain the same benefits as needed.

If demand decreases, in-house VPNs become expensive, with unused sunk costs, but ongoing operational costs from an SaaS VPN can be reduced easily. With changing users, licenses can be transferred without additional fees.

Risk containment

NordLayer permits easy network segmentation and network access control based upon user groups and the resources they need. Since users cannot see the assets they don’t need, the risk of breached credentials becomes limited.

NordLayer also enables security teams to constrain access to cloud resources through the solution. This prevents employees from accessing Microsoft 365 and other cloud resources outside of an encrypted security channel and risking man-in-the-middle attacks, data interception, URL spoofing, and similar cyberattacks.

Secure remote workforces

Many employees work remotely from cafes, hotels, and home networks. Businesses can’t hope to secure those open networks, so instead, they need solutions that deliver end-to-end encrypted connections to company resources, such as data repositories and cloud applications.

The SASE and VPN solutions provided by NordLayer provide the encrypted communication channels that protect corporate data from being intercepted on open networks. Additional options for dedicated servers and gateways enable more security layers, such as user segmentation and whitelisted IP addresses.

Simplified security

In-house VPNs require significant expertise to set up securely and must be maintained constantly to prevent zero-day vulnerabilities from impacting the whole company. SaaS VPN solutions offload this headache to a third-party specialist without any need for costly in-house security experts.

NordLayer UI gateway screenshot.
The gateway section of the NordLayer UI. Courtesy NordLayer.

See more: The 5 Top Cybersecurity Trends

NordLayer use cases

Omnisend

Omnisend provides email and SMS marketing automation for 70,000+ e-commerce customers. Omnisend recently grew quickly, and its IT team needed to scale remote access capabilities to its dedicated servers effectively — even as it opened new overseas offices.

Adopting NordLayer provided the layers of security that significantly reduced IT team support, because it eliminated heavy VPN hardware support requirements without complicated employee training. NordLayer provided a “general reduction in the activities during the …. period …, [and] a simple document with a few screenshots was enough” to get everyone on the same page, says Žygimantas Stauga, director of information security, Omnisend.

Whatagraph

Through Whatagraph’s analytics and reporting platform, the company provides services for over 15,000 brands and agencies. The company grew rapidly over six months from 40 employees primarily located in Lithuania to 100 employees also in Kenya, Turkey, Italy, Spain, and Germany.

Whatagraph needed to efficiently grow and manage secure access to company resources with its IT team.

“With NordLayer, you don’t have to care how often your team scales or how many additional seats need to onboard,” says Maria Siz, head of operations, Whatagraph. 

“No extra network security technical integrations are required when a company is expanding. The solution covers all needs and escalates if the security goes in-depth for global optimization — everything is safe and sound within minutes.”

NordLayer differentiators

Customers that select NordLayer as a SASE/VPN solution and for overall network security often do so partly due to some of its differentiators:

Customizable SaaS VPN solution

More sophisticated customers often require more sophisticated solutions. NordLayer offers customized solutions to accommodate corporate infrastructure supported by 24/7 customized tech support.

Fast connections

The combination of cloud resources and the proprietary NordLynx code allow for NordLayer to provide connections reportedly as much as 50% faster and better performance than a pair of competitor solutions.

NordLynx

Many VPN service programs suffer poor performance from bloated programs that may also contain hidden vulnerabilities. NordLayer’s implementation of the 4,000 lines of code of WireGuard enjoys all of the benefits of its sparse code: improved speed, smaller attack surface, and easy auditability.

The proprietary NordLynx version of WireGuard improves upon the inherent speed advantages and assigns a unique IP address for each tunnel connection to ensure customer privacy and data security. While NordLynx is available to all clients, customers can also choose to select OpenVPN (both UDP and TCP) and IKEv2 protocols if needed.

Smart Remote Access

Smart Remote Access creates a virtual LAN that can connect global users with shared resources, such as printers, network attached storage (NAS), and servers. These virtual LANs can be segmented by user groups to prevent unauthorized access and also be used to provide secure point-to-point connections for troubleshooting.

NordLayer UI connections activity screenshot.
The connections activity section of the NordLayer UI. Courtesy NordLayer.

User reviews of NordLayer

Users at several review sites provide favorable reviews overall for NordLayer:

Review site Rating
TrustRadius 8.6 out of 10
G2 4.3 out of 5
Capterra 4.5 out of 5

NordLayer pricing

NordLayer publishes its basic pricing on its website for both monthly and discounted annual commitment pricing.

Basic Advanced Advanced option: Dedicated server
Monthly pricing $9 per user per month $11 per user per month $50 per month per server
Annual pricing $7 per user per month $9 per user per month $40 per month per server

NordLayer also offers custom access solutions with additional options and pricing for enterprise customers with more sophisticated needs.

Conclusions

Most companies have many remote workers on unsecured networks connecting to both cloud resources and local resources. Managing a local VPN can be both time-consuming and inefficient — especially to access cloud resources. NordLayer provides simple and effective ways for an organization to provide a secure connection with many security features deployed between remote users and key company assets. An organization looking to provide secure connections for users should consider NordLayer as a possible network security solution.

See more: Cybersecurity Q&A With Deepen Desai of Zscaler: Why Zero Trust is Growing

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