Twingate review

Does Twingate win the match with the veteran VPNs and similar ZTA solutions?

Twingate
(Image: © Twingate)

TechRadar Verdict

Twingate earns a medal as a business-friendly shortcut to securing all pathways to your network treasures. With the workforce leaving their offices for homes in droves, Twingate jumps in as a viable alternative to VPNs and easier setup and operation to boot. If you are after a higher level of security than what you are used to with VPNs with no major downsides nor fine print clauses, you will soon learn to love Twingate’s zero-trust access model, advanced data encryption, and split tunneling as well as its potential to save you time and money when running it.

Pros

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    Advanced security

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    Gateways are gone for good

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    Granular access control

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    Easy setup and lightweight operation

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    Trial available

Cons

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    It needs to collect private data by design

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Twingate shoots for the stars via the cloud, at least when it comes to providing a no-holds-barred zero-trust access (ZTA) solution that should protect your workforce now that everyone and their mothers work remotely. As a cloud-based (opens in new tab) service, Twingate has set its sights on dethroning virtual private networks (VPN) as the solution of choice for those who have so far secured access to their precious resources with the help of these long-standing solutions. 

Now, dislodging VPNs from the hearts and systems of users is no easy task as this technology has matured over the years but Twingate plays a trump card with “more security” and “easier operation” written on it.  So, does it win the match with the veteran VPNs and similar ZTA solutions? Stay tuned for more information and a reasonable judgment.

Twingate security features

Twingate is all about securing remote access to your networks and whatever valuable business resources you are keeping beyond their perimeters. Superficially, it appears similar to corporate-focused VPNs. Yet, Twingate allows you to set a software-based perimeter instead of risky VPN gateways and define to the minutest detail all policies governing access control. 

Zero-trust network functionality is thus combined with an array of filters at the level of an application instead of a network. These filters authenticate a user’s identity whenever access to a particular asset is required. Yes, you read it well, Twingate grants access to an asset instead of a network, thus reducing the effects of a potential security breach to a single resource. 

Access permissions are handled by a system that grants permissions on a context-specific basis and can be defined at the level of an individual user or a group. As a bonus, all of this is done via a dedicated app, giving you a bird’s eye view of an entire network and a gatekeeper’s authority over it with just a click or two. 

SSO authentication is managed with the help of Azure AD, G Suite, and Okta. Multifactor authentication is also supported natively as an additional obstacle for potential threat actors. 

Based on the lack of gateways that can be used as attack vectors, Twingate will make all of your business assets invisible apart from those that need to be accessed. Finally, Twingate utilizes split tunneling that ensures that no traffic goes from it uncontrolled and you can manage it from just about any location you find yourself in.

Management features

Twingate wants to offer security at no extra cost both for your finances and time. The central Admin console will run perfectly on whatever infrastructure you may have and is used to define access policies at a highly granular level. Based on its support for group access permissions, you are left with a highly scalable solution that surely beats business VPNs in this segment. 

The reason for this is simple – business VPNs tend to put user-friendliness to a backburner all too often simply because they have to cater to complex and distributed networks run by large-scale organizations. This causes trouble with solving technical issues for average users. Twingate deals with this issue elegantly – it will run in the background and not bother the users with the nitty-gritty of its operation once they go beyond the initial login. 

Users are also not required to keep track of IP addresses and various alternative hostnames if they want to get their hands on remote assets. You get to keep your hostname and Twingate will simply proxy, route, and resolve each access request at the local level.

Twingate interface

Upon launching the Twingate client you’ll be greeted with a clean interface in which no element wants to overwhelm your senses, and in a good way. 

You’ll do well to read the privacy statement so as to avoid any surprises regarding the data collection aspect of it all. Yes, it is a product that you bought to keep a watchful eye over what goes on with your networks and Twingate’s interface in question will be able to give you just that. If you cannot stomach surrendering an inch of privacy to a third party in exchange for a mile of security, then Twingate is not for you. 

In any case, setting up your account should go smoothly and you will be prompted to name a network to be associated with it. Once you sign in, the dedicated Twingate app will quietly slip into your taskbar and that’s basically it. You’ll be prompted to use it once again only if you decide to disconnect from an individual network or shut down the app.

Pricing

First, the good news: Twingate supports a 14-day trial for its $10/user/month Business edition (without a credit card). Yes, it’s the vanilla one which will still support up to 150 users, 5 devices per user, 10 remote networks, resource-level access control, identity provider integration, and email support. 

For less ambitious users or smaller teams who are getting tired of their old VPNs, remote access will be competently secured by the free Twingate Starter edition that largely features what the Business edition does, but at a smaller scale. 

Finally, organizations in need of more detailed auditing and deployment automation will be offered the Enterprise edition which comes with no user or device limits and features some neat bells and whistles such as network analytics.

Conclusion

Going with Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA (opens in new tab)) in an era of distributed and fragmented workforce is a valid proposition in 2022, and Twingate is a textbook example of a job well-done in this department. It eliminates centralized gateway as an avenue for unauthorized access to your precious network resources and acts as a VPN 2.0 of sorts that recognizes personal from professional traffic automatically and gives each the appropriate treatment. Combined with a smooth setup and easier operation for even the laymen users, you have a strong contender that can finally disrupt the sleepy VPN market without being a VPN product itself.

Sead is a seasoned freelance journalist based in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. He writes about IT (cloud, IoT, 5G, VPN) and cybersecurity (ransomware, data breaches, laws and regulations). In his career, spanning more than a decade, he’s written for numerous media outlets, including Al Jazeera Balkans. He’s also held several modules on content writing for Represent Communications.