Google could eliminate VPNs for millions with this new tool

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As the number of remote workers has surged as a result of the global pandemic, Google Cloud has launched a new security tool designed to allow users to access their company networks remotely without using a VPN.

The company's new cloud-based security solution is called BeyondCorp Remote Access and it is actually based on the zero-trust approach that the search giant has used internally for almost a decade.

With BeyondCorp Remote Access, a business' employees and extended workforce can access its internal web apps from virtually any device at any time without a traditional remote-access VPN. Over time, Google plans to offer the same capability, control and additional protections for almost any application or resource a user needs to access.

The reason the company has decided to launch its new tool is due to the fact that traditional VPN infrastructure can often be difficult for IT teams to deploy and manage for a large number of new users in a short period of time, as has been the case during our current situation. VPNs can also be complex from the user perspective and this is especially true for those who have not used one before. Things get even more complicated when organizations try to roll out VPN access to their extended workforce of contractors, temporary employees and partners.

BeyondCorp Remote Access

While Google is now rolling out its new tool to users, the company actually begin working on implementing a zero-trust access approach back in 2011. The search giant created BeyondCorp with the goal of enabling its employees and extended workforce to be able to successfully work from untrusted networks on a variety of devices without the need for a client-side VPN.

However, BeyondCorp offers much more than a simpler, more modern VPN replacement. The new tool ensures that only certain users have access to the information they need in the right context. In a blog post announcing BeyondCorp Remote Access, Google Cloud's Sunil Potti and Sampath Srinivas provided the following examples of some policies that can be enforced, saying:

“My contract HR recruiters working from home on their own laptops can access our web-based document management system (and nothing else), but only if they are using the latest version of the OS, and are using phishing-resistant authentication like security keys.” Or: “My timecard application should be safely available to all hourly employees on any device, anywhere.”

For a large company, rolling out a traditional VPN solution can often take weeks or even months while Google Cloud's BeyondCorp Remote Access can be set up in just a few days. The new tool has already been “battle-tested” in production by thousands of Google Cloud customers and interested businesses can sign up here to gain access to it.

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Anthony Spadafora

After working with the TechRadar Pro team for the last several years, Anthony is now the security and networking editor at Tom’s Guide where he covers everything from data breaches and ransomware gangs to the best way to cover your whole home or business with Wi-Fi. When not writing, you can find him tinkering with PCs and game consoles, managing cables and upgrading his smart home.