Enterprise VPNs: Fortinet vs. Cisco AnyConnect

The primary purpose of an enterprise virtual private network (VPN), also referred to as Cloud VPN or VPNaaS, is to fortify sensitive resources and assets, whether they are hosted on-premises or in the cloud, so that employees can easily and securely access these resources. 

Resources like local file storage, cloud-based Software as a Service (SaaS) applications, and internal customer and sales systems may be subject to exposure if accessed from multiple devices and potentially unsafe Wi-Fi connections. An enterprise VPN provides a simple, scalable solution to construct a low-latency, secure remote office.    

All you have to do is log into your enterprise’s VPN solution via an endpoint device and the encrypted tunnel created by the solution between the endpoint device and the network will permit you to browse the web and work securely. 

The benefits of an enterprise VPN software include:

  • Straightforward scalability for growing networks
  • Immediate onboarding
  • Safe, low-latency remote network access
  • Easy integration with cloud products
  • Better network visibility

In this guide, we will delve into all you should know about Fortinet and Cisco AnyConnect.

Also read: Understanding VPNs: The Pros and Cons of IPSec and SSL

Fortinet Overview

Fortinet logo

FortiClient is a Fortinet Fabric Agent that delivers secure access, compliance, and protection in a solitary, modular lightweight client. A Fabric Agent is an endpoint software that communicates with the Fortinet Security Fabric to provide control, visibility and information to the endpoint it is running on and enables reliable, remote connectivity to the Security Fabric.

Fortinet Features

  • The Zero Trust Agent supports Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA) tunnels and device posture check to FortiOS access proxy. 
  • With centralized management via Enterprise Management Server (EMS) or Fortinet Cloud, administrators can deploy endpoint software remotely and perform controlled updates. 
  • With vulnerability dashboard, vulnerable endpoints can be easily identified. Windows Active Directory (AD) integration helps sync an enterprise’s AD structure into EMS. 
  • Centralized logging simplifies security analysis and compliance reporting by ForiSIEM or any other security information and event management (SIEM) product. 
  • Based on endpoint security posture, EMS creates virtual groups that are retrieved by FortiGate and used for dynamic access control in the firewall policy. These virtual, dynamic groups help simplify and automate compliance for security policies. 
  • Vulnerability agent and remediation hardens endpoints and ensures endpoint hygiene to minimize the attack surface. Vulnerable endpoints are identified and unpatched operating system (OS) and software vulnerabilities are prioritized with flexible patching methods, including auto-patching.  
  • Secure Socket Layer (SSL) VPN with multi-factor authentication (MFA) enables a straightforward encrypted tunnel that will travel across any infrastructure. 
  • IP Secure (IPsec) VPN with MFA enables a simple-to-use encrypted tunnel that offers high VPN throughput. 
  • Other features include FortiGuard Web Filtering, universal serial bus (USB) device control, split-tunneling and single sign-on (SSO). 
  • You can download the enterprise VPN software for Windows, macOS, Linux, Android and iOS OSs.
  • FortiClient is available as a VPN-only version as well, called FortiClient VPN. The software offers SSL VPN with MFA and IPsec VPN with MFA but does not include any support. 
  • The latest version of the VPN security software is FortiClient 7.0. 

Cisco AnyConnect Overview

Cisco AnyConnect Secure Mobility Client helps accelerate business success by providing remote workers with effortless, highly secure, policy-driven VPN access to an enterprise network, irrespective of location and from any endpoint device while protecting the enterprise. 

Cisco AnyConnect Features

  • You can verify authorized users with Duo’s MFA to protect access to the VPN and gain visibility into endpoint devices.
  • Cisco’s Identity Services Engine (ISE) enables you to block network access to non-compliant endpoint devices. 
  • By monitoring every endpoint with Secure Endpoint, you can promptly block attacks at the point of entry. 
  • With Umbrella Roaming, a flexible cloud-delivered security solution, you can extend protection to users who are off the VPN in a matter of minutes.   
  • Secure Network Analytics enables you to easily identify network blind spots and produce actionable reports that help you determine where the network is most vulnerable.
  • With Endpoint Security Analytics, you can unlock deep endpoint visibility and quickly respond to zero-day malware, data exfiltration, and dangerous user behavior.
  • Security Connector enables you to optimize the visibility into traffic on iOS devices and block connections to potentially malicious websites. 
  • You can download the software on a Windows, macOS, Linux, Android or iOS system.
  • The software can be deployed with an abundance of features and flexible licensing options. To get started, select the features you need with Apex and Plus licensing, choose a subscription term, be it 1, 3 or 5 years and select the number of users you need the software for – you can scale up to 100,000 users. 

Fortinet vs. Cisco AnyConnect

Here is a tabular comparison of FortiClient and Cisco AnyConnect Secure Mobility Client: 

FeaturesFortiClient Cisco AnyConnect Secure Mobility Client
Physical Protection
Control of Network Elements
Encryption of Data Streams
Ease of Deployment
Availability of Third-Party Resources
Quality of End-User Training
Ability to Understand Needs
Pricing Flexibility
Service and Support
Overall Capability Score

As you can see from the above table, there is very little to separate the two enterprise VPN software. FortiClient is a Fortinet Fabric Agent for ZTNA, control and visibility. 

The enterprise VPN product’s features include Zero Trust Agent with MFA, central management via Fortinet Cloud or EMS, central logging and reporting, dynamic security fabric connector, vulnerability agent and remediation, SSL VPN and IPsec VPN with MFA, FortiGuard Web Filtering, USB device control, split-tunneling, and SSO.

Cisco AnyConnect Secure Mobility Client provides secure VPN access for remote workers. The VPN security software’s features include access from anywhere, greater visibility, comprehensive protection, simplified management, and usability and scalability of up to 100,000 users. 

Carefully assess both enterprise VPN software and incorporate the product that best suits your enterprise requirements.

Read next: Best Business & Enterprise VPNs of 2021

Surajdeep Singh
Surajdeep Singh has been working as an IT and blockchain journalist since 2018. He is a contributor to publications including IT Business Edge, Enterprise Networking Planet & Smart Billions and works as a consultant at Drofa Communications Agency.

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