Perimeter 81 vs NordLayer: Network Security Comparison

Network security is becoming increasingly important to businesses today. Cybercrime is expected to cost the global economy $10.5 trillion annually by 2025, causing business leaders to feel the pressure to prevent rather than react.  Consequently, choosing the right security solution is critical to a company’s success, and for many, that means choosing between Perimeter 81 and NordLayer.

NordLayer and Perimeter 81 are two of the most popular network security tools today. As both focus on securing remote access, they’ve become increasingly attractive options as working from home becomes the norm. However, while they serve similar purposes, each has unique benefits and ideal use cases.

Perimeter 81

Unlike most virtual private network (VPN) services, Perimeter 81 is a software-defined perimeter solution. The company, founded in 2018, aims to simplify remote environment security, focusing on zero-trust architecture and secure access server edge (SASE)

Despite being relatively new to the scene, Perimeter 81 has quickly gained prominence as an alternative to more traditional network security solutions for enterprises and small businesses alike.

Screenshot of Perimeter 81 platform.
Image: Perimeter 81

Features

While Perimeter 81’s VPN functionality is its main selling point for many, it’s far from its only feature. The suite includes anti-virus solutions and firewalls as part of its SASE architecture, as well as endpoint management and custom filtering. Multi-factor authentication (MFA), which some experts claim can stop 99.9 percent of automated attacks, also comes included.

More advanced security features take these benefits further. The platform offers activity monitoring to help highlight potential issues, including behavioral analytics to identify breached accounts. It also uses tokenization to help verify users before granting them access to sensitive systems and data.

Perimeter 81 has several usage-related features to make it more convenient, too. Remote access and control help manage teams with employees working from home, and single sign-on (SSO) streamlines the login process. Unlike many more rudimentary VPN services, it also offers dedicated servers and IP addresses, improving connectivity. Integrations with apps like Okta, Google Workspace, and Microsoft Azure make Perimeter 81 even more convenient.

Pricing

Perimeter 81’s plans start at US$8 per user, per month. The Essentials tier comes with unlimited data access and many helpful security features like MFA and network segmentation. However, you’ll only be able to apply zero-trust controls to two web apps, and you’ll lack the company’s firewall-as-a-service.

You can also get a Premium tier for US$12 per user, per month and the comprehensive Premium Plus for $16 per user per month. Custom enterprise solutions are available, but pricing information isn’t available. It’s also worth noting that gateways cost $40 per month per gateway across all plans. 

Perimeter 81 doesn’t have a free trial, but it does have a 30-day money-back guarantee. All of its plans are also commitment-free, so you can cancel them easily if you’re not satisfied.

Pros

Perimeter 81’s most significant advantage is its extensive list of advanced security features. Things like behavioral analytics and zero-trust controls are rare in standard VPNs, but they can be critical for remote teams with highly sensitive data. Seeing that 80% of global companies are at least considering zero-trust security, these features are becoming increasingly important, too.

Another aspect that many users will appreciate is Perimeter 81’s ease of use. Customers report the service being easy to set up and use, despite its advanced security controls. Since the platform moves away from traditional, hardware-defined perimeter security, it offers the same protection with less complexity and faster speeds.

The system is also easy to scale up or down to fit your team’s changing needs. As the workforce fluctuates in size and location, it won’t impact your security. User experience benefits like multiple support options and dedicated servers and IP addresses take these advantages further, making Perimeter 81 one of the most user-friendly solutions available.

Cons

While Perimeter 81 has many advantages, it comes with its fair share of downsides, too. Perhaps most notably, the solution can be more expensive than some other options. While $8 per user doesn’t sound like much, there’s a five-user minimum for the lowest tier. As a result, you’ll pay at least $40 per month plus another $40 for each gateway.

Some of the platform’s most helpful features are also only available in more expensive tiers. Each plan also requires more minimum users than the last, so prices go up faster than they seem at first. While almost half of all security leaders expect budgets to increase within the year, these higher prices may dissuade some businesses.

Some Perimeter 81 customers have also cited some disappointment with some of the features. Specifically, the logging tools and password synchronization didn’t work as efficiently as expected for some users. Compared to some other VPN solutions, Perimeter 81 also offers relatively limited country support.

NordLayer

Like Perimeter 81, NordLayer focuses on SASE and zero-trust security controls. The company emphasizes the importance of speed and ease of use in transitioning away from legacy systems. 

Most people will recognize the name from NordVPN, one of the most popular consumer VPNs today. The platform’s commercial offering builds on this reputation, aiming to help businesses embrace remote work quickly and securely.

Screenshot of NordLayer platform.
Image: NordLayer

Features

As you’d expect, NordLayer comes with a leading VPN solution. The service uses AES 256-bit encryption, which can take several years to break through, making it virtually impenetrable. Of course, encryption alone isn’t enough for today’s security needs, so NordLayer offers many other cybersecurity features, too.

Like Perimeter 81, NordLayer includes anti-virus software and MFA controls to help secure endpoints. It also features remote access and control, SSO, user and device activity tracking and dedicated IP addresses. Integrations with multiple third-party apps like Salesforce, AWS, Google Cloud, and Azure ensure that the service is functional on top of being secure.

NordLayer also has some security features you may not find in many other solutions. Jailbroken device detection alerts administrators when someone is using a jailbroken—and therefore vulnerable—endpoint on the network. 

Biometric authentication can help further secure accounts by using facial or fingerprint recognition to grant users access. These features, plus compliance management tools, help companies meet rising regulatory requirements.

Read more: Is Biometric Technology Worth the Cost?

Pricing

NordLayer’s pricing starts at US$7 per user, per month for an annual subscription. If you’d rather pay by the month, you can get the same plan for US$9 per user, per month. This tier will get you most of the platform’s most enticing features, including MFA, SSO, and jailbroken device protection, as well as unlimited data traffic.

The Advanced tier, NordLayer’s only other preset pricing option, costs US$11 per user, per month if billed monthly and $9 if billed annually. You’ll have to choose this option if you want the platform’s more advanced features like biometric authentication and network segmentation. Like Perimeter 81, NordLayer also offers custom plans ideal for enterprise users.

NordLayer doesn’t have a free trial. It’s worth noting that you’ll also have to pay an additional $40 per month to use a dedicated server, even with an Advanced subscription.

Pros

The most immediately apparent benefit of NordLayer is that it’s more affordable than some other options. Even if you’re paying for the Advanced tier with the added dedicated server, you’ll likely spend less than a comparable subscription to Perimeter 81. There are also no minimum users for either plan, which can help save money for smaller teams.

NordLayer’s VPN may be the most attractive feature in its suite. The service offers servers in more than 30 countries and multiple VPN protocols, making it easier to tailor the platform to your specific needs. NordLayer also has extensive mobile support, which is increasingly important today, with 40 percent of security experts saying mobile devices are their companies’ biggest risk.

Support for virtually every platform takes that flexibility to new heights. NordLayer works on Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, and Linux, covering any operating system your team might use. You also don’t have to sacrifice security for this convenience, thanks to features like activity monitoring and 256-bit encryption.

Cons

While NordLayer is generally more affordable than Perimeter 81, it has fewer pricing options. As a result, it may be less flexible for your team’s needs. You may have to either sacrifice some features or pay for more than what you need.

Some users also complain about slow connection speeds while using NordLayer. Using a dedicated server may help make up for that, but that costs an additional $40 per month. Regardless of what you pay for, NordLayer’s remote services use a more conventional VPN architecture, which is inherently slower and more complex than Perimeter 81’s solution.

Another common theme among negative reviews of NordLayer is its slow customer service. The platform offers the same support channels as Perimeter 81, but customers report occasionally having difficulty getting the help they need. That could be an issue for teams with more complex environments or less remote work experience. While NordLayer offers more mobile support than many alternatives, not all features are available on mobile.

Perimeter 81 vs. NordLayer: Which is right for you?

In general, both Perimeter 81 and NordLayer are reliable, easily scalable security solutions for remote or hybrid teams. However, their unique advantages and disadvantages make each ideal for a different use case.

NordLayer is often a better choice for smaller businesses, which account for 43 percent of all cyberattacks today. The service’s more affordable pricing and lack of minimum user requirements make it an ideal fit for teams with fewer users and smaller budgets. Along those lines, if affordability is your main concern, NordLayer is the best option.

By contrast, Perimeter 81 is the ideal choice for larger companies or those with more sensitive data and complex networks. The service offers more cutting-edge security features that you may struggle to find anywhere else for the price, even if it costs more than NordLayer. Its high speeds and extensive support also make it a better fit for networks with higher uptime demands or complex security needs.

This support and flexibility make Perimeter 81 a good choice for companies with less cybersecurity experience. Its easy-to-use interface further improves its accessibility. However, NordLayer supports more operating systems, so it may be the better choice for environments with less standardized endpoints.

Find your ideal network security tool

Knowing what your team needs is the first step to finding the ideal network security platform. The winner of Perimeter 81 vs. NordLayer comes down to the use case at hand, so be sure to review your requirements before choosing.

Once you know your specific needs, you can go over what each option offers. When you know what you want and understand what’s available, you can make the most informed and strategic choice.

Devin Partida
Devin Partida
Devin Partida writes about business technology and innovation. Her work has been featured on Yahoo! Finance, Entrepreneur, Startups Magazine, and other industry publications. She is also the Editor-in-Chief of ReHack.

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