Launched in 2019 as NordVPN Teams and rebranded to NordLayer in 2021, NordLayer is part of Nord Security’s suite of products, including NordPass, NordLocker, and NordVPN. With over 8,000 businesses protected, NordLayer provides robust security solutions by focusing on Security Service Edge (SSE) principles and the Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA) approach.
It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that NordLayer is one of the best VPNs for business currently available. While being easy to use (for both the admin and the employee), NordLayer also packs quite a few features and offers high-end security that your company so desperately needs.
In short, this corporate VPN allows you to protect your data from people outside your enterprise, manage your team members and teams, and get a dedicated server with a dedicated IP address.
However, is it really for everyone? In this NordLayer review, we’ll take a closer look at this cloud VPN solution and see whether it really holds up.
|📖 No logs policy:||Collects access logs|
|💵 Price:||From $7.00/month|
|🖥️ Servers:||33+ countries|
|🍿 Streaming services:||Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, BBC iPlayer|
|🔥 Coupons:||NordLayer coupon 22% OFF!|
NordLayer pros & cons
Features of NordLayer
Even though NordLayer can be perfectly used as a personal VPN, it also offers a bunch of features that a regular user wouldn’t even know what to do with. That’s because, first and foremost, it’s a business VPN. Which means that, aside from all the regular stuff like hiding your real IP address, it packs lots of features that most companies will truly appreciate. These include:
- Two-factor authentication (2FA)
- Shared Gateways
- Virtual Private Gateways
- Fixed IP & IP allowlisting
- Site-to-Site (access to company's internal data)
- Smart Remote Access
- DNS fitering by category
- Deep Packet Inspection (Lite)
- Custom DNS
- Always On VPN
- AES 256-bit encryption
- NordLynx (WireGuard)
- User Provisioning
- Device Posture Monitoring
- Activity monitoring reports
- Browser Extension
- Idle Session Timeout
- Network segmentation
- Two-factor authentication (2FA)
- Single sign-on (SSO)
- Biometric Authentication
- Firewall as a Service (coming soon)
Let’s take a look at the most important ones.
Gateways and servers
With Shared and Virtual Private Gateways, NordLayer operates over 30 server locations worldwide, allowing businesses to connect to their local and cloud network securely.
Having a dedicated server with a fixed IP is one of the most important things when it comes to protecting a company’s resources. This prevents unauthorized access to documents, financial data, and other confidential info.
The comprehensive security tools include Virtual Private Gateways, Fixed IP, Network Access Control, Network Segmentation, DNS filtering, Deep Packet Inspection, AES 256-bit encryption, and the anticipated Cloud Firewall.
NordLayer will soon offer Cloud Firewall (FWaaS), an agile network security layer operating as a cloud Security Service Edge element. The service is adaptive, scalable, and low maintenance compared to traditional physical firewalls.
Network segmentation is an advanced feature that can be rather useful for companies, especially those with many employees. It lets you divide the network into subsections to improve security and network performance.
For example, you can restrict certain branches from accessing the financial reporting system of your business. In other words, you can manage your employees’ access to the company's resources.
User authentication & management
With features like MFA, Biometric authentication, Single sign-on (SSO), and User Provisioning, NordLayer ensures robust authentication and user management.
If you’re concerned about unauthorized access to the VPN (and, consequently, your company’s data), then you definitely want your employees to use two-factor authentication. Luckily, NordLayer offers this feature, and you can choose whether you want to have the code sent via email or SMS.
NordLayer also implements Single sign-on (SSO). In other words, a user has only one set of security credentials to access multiple applications for extra convenience.
NordLayer offers a user-friendly Control Panel, centralized billing, license transferability, and integration with multiple network vendors, enhancing administrative efficiency.
NordLayer’s Control Panel (which is not an app but a web client) is easy to use and navigate, making the service one of the most beginner-friendly business VPN solutions.
Here’s what it allows you to do:
- Invite new members
- Add members to existing teams
- Create new teams and add available gateways
- Create new gateways and servers
- Delegate Team administrator role
- Integrate third-party identity and access management systems
- Have visibility over devices in the network
- Monitor user activity (active users/gateways)
- Enable 2FA and choose user login options
The control panel itself looks pretty minimalistic. You will find four main sections:
- Organization. Here, you can manage both your teams and individual members. For example, you can add new members or gateways to different teams. When it comes to members, you can see their status (Active, Suspended, Invited, or Inactive).
- Network. In this section, you’ll be able to manage all the info related to your gateways and servers.
- Settings. Here, you’ll be able to set up the Smart Remote Access feature, which lets you use the company’s resources even when there’s no internet connection. Don’t worry if you don’t know how to do it – your account manager will help you with that.
- Downloads. This section contains links to all the NordLayer applications. It also allows you to send manual configuration instructions to your employees.
Network connectors like Site-to-site and Smart Remote Access provides more options for hybrid ways of working.
Site-to-site is useful for companies with multiple offices in different geographic locations needing regular corporate network access. They function as secure VPN tunnels between two or more networks, providing safe pathways to exchange private data - away from external users.
Smart Remote Access helps to create a virtual Local Area Network and access devices on the internal network. Secure all endpoints and enable file sharing without the barriers of a traditional LAN between company devices and servers.
NordLayer offers a recently introduced Browser Extension. Secure Web Gateway browser extension service enables access to resources exclusively via an internet browser. The secure connection is established by setting up a browser plug-in or the browser’s settings. It is kept
within the browser limits — all other internet traffic goes through the default device and network configuration.
Providing visibility and control over user activity and device posture, NordLayer enables efficient network monitoring.
ThreatBlock feature is similar to NordVPN’s Threat Protection, so you might already be familiar with it. So, ThreatBlock will prevent the user from accessing malicious websites that not only display dangerous ads, but might also steal sensitive company data.
This feature successfully passed all our tests. It prevented ads from showing up and even blocked malware-containing pages specifically created for testing.
Network monitoring is enhanced with Activity Monitoring reports for visibility over user-level connections to and from gateways showcasing names of the members, devices, and source IP addresses. Reports provide member activity history, including the date and time of a particular member connection session.
Moreover, NordLayer offers Device Posture Monitoring, a security feature that allows organization administrators to check and evaluate member devices according to predefined security rules and get notified about non-compliant devices.
Options like Auto-connect, Always On VPN, and Idle Session Timeout add extra layers of control and security to network management.
Auto-connect is one of those features that you can also find in personal VPNs, like the NordVPN app for regular users. In short, you can set up the VPN to activate as soon as an internet connection is detected – this reduces the risk of an employee forgetting to turn on their VPN app.
Unfortunately, during our tests, the feature showed itself to be rather buggy: sometimes, it took a long time for NordLayer to connect to a server.
Is NordLayer safe?
Yes, NordLayer is completely safe to use. It uses the market-leading AES-256 encryption, which is used by organizations that require flawless security, such as online banks and government bodies.
When it comes to its tunneling protocols, NordLayer doesn’t disappoint either. For example, you can choose NordLynx, which is NordVPN’s upgraded version of WireGuard. It retains all the speed while being even more secure.
You can also use OpenVPN TCP or OpenVPN UDP, both of which are staples in the VPN world. Lastly, we have IKEv2, which is the most suitable for mobile devices thanks to its stability.
Logging and jurisdiction
When it comes to the jurisdiction, though, we have some concerns. In 2020, NordLayer relocated from Panama to the US, which is a less privacy-friendly country. On the other hand, you should look at the service’s logging policy to see what kind of data it truly collects.
Luckily, there’s nothing worse than what you’d see in the logging policies of other business VPNs. NordLayer will keep your company’s original IP and email address, as it’s necessary for the provision of the services.
Just keep in mind that the website of NordLayer keeps a bit more information, including your operating system, IP address, cookie data, and browser info.
NordLayer is a pretty fast VPN service thanks to the implementation of the speedy NordLynx tunneling protocol. During our tests, the tool managed to maintain about 96% of the original speed (both download and upload) in the best cases. The speeds were actually better than the ones of NordVPN, which is an impressive achievement.
Baseline: 299.01 Mbps download, 296.27 Mbps upload
The speeds with IKEv2 were also pretty good, sometimes dropping only by a mere 20%. However, in many cases, it dropped by about 40%, which, while not perfect, is still pretty decent. The speed drop mostly depended on how far a server was located from us.
Meanwhile, OpenVPN UDP sometimes retained more than 90% of the original upload speed. However, the download speeds weren't as impressive.
Finally, OpenVPN TCP slows down the speed even more, retaining only about 12% of the original download speed on average. Of course, this drop in performance can be expected from this tunneling protocol, as it favors security over speed. When using OpenVPN TCP, I could even feel some lagging, which wasn’t the case with other protocols.
Plans and pricing
When it comes to pricing, NordLayer is definitely not the most expensive business VPN, especially compared to the likes of Perimeter 81. When getting a long-term plan, you can pay as little as $7 per user a month, which is pretty reasonable.
Also, unlike Perimeter 81, NordLayer doesn’t have a minimum number of users, so you can really save money if you need a VPN for a small business. You also get a 30-day money-back guarantee and 6 simultaneous connections per user.
|Basic||$7.00 user/month||$9.00 user/month|
|Advanced||$9.00 user/month||$11.00 user/month|
|Custom||Consultation required||Consultation required|
Let’s take a closer look at each type of subscription separately.
For the basic plan, you can either pay $7.00/month or $9.00/month for a user depending on your subscription period (of course, the yearly subscription is cheaper than the monthly subscription).
This plan includes:
- Cloud VPN
- Intuitive control panel
- Centralized settings
- Kill switch
- Multi-factor authentication
- SSO with Google, Azure AD, Okta, OneLogin, JumpCloud
- Shared access to 30+ gateway locations
- 24/7 customer support
- Always On VPN
- User provisioning
- Device Posture Monitoring
Keep in mind that you can’t get a dedicated IP with the Basic subscription.
In the meantime, the Advanced subscription costs either $9.00/month per user (yearly plan) or $11.00/month per user (monthly plan). You can also purchase a dedicated server with a fixed IP for $40 per month.
The Advanced subscription offers everything included in the Basic one, together with:
- Purchase dedicated servers
- Choose between 25+ virtual private gateway locations
- Available dedicated account management
- Priority support 24/7
- DNS filterig
- Deep Packet Inspection (Lite)
- Custom DNS
- Network segmentation
- Smart remote access
- FwaaS (coming soon)
In case even the Advanced plan doesn’t 100% suit your needs, you can always aim for the Custom subscription. You’ll need to request a consultation in order to talk about your specific requirements.
As we check the torrenting capabilities of every VPN we review, NordLayer and other business solutions are no exception. After all, this might come in handy at certain jobs.
So, torrenting actually worked, which is great, but the speeds were not that amazing. It was possible to reach only 5-6 Mb/s on the UK server. However, the speeds with the US server were even worse, dropping to a mere 3-4 Mb/s.
All in all, even though NordLayer allows P2P connections, it wouldn’t be my first choice for torrenting.
Whether your job requires unblocking various streaming libraries or you simply want to catch up with your favorite show during your break, it’s good to have a VPN that can bypass the blocks of streaming services.
|BBC iPlayer||✅ Yes|
So, I was quite lucky with Netflix – I could access the US, UK, and Swiss libraries. However, the tool didn’t work with the libraries for Belgium, Germany, Canada, Italy, Australia, and Spain. On the other hand, the situation can always change and you might just be able to unblock these libraries in the future. You can also try using another sever if your current one doesn't work with the library you need.
Meanwhile, Disney+ worked with quite a few countries except for the US, Australia, and Spain. While BBC iPlayer wasn’t a tough nut to crack.
How to download NordLayer?
Interface and ease of use
It’s important for a business VPN to be user-friendly, especially when there are a lot of new members coming in – it might be difficult to train everyone to use an advanced application. Luckily, NordLayer is easy to use, as the user apps don’t include lots of settings and are pretty self-explanatory.
NordLayer is compatible with Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, and Linux (just keep in mind that the latter doesn’t have a graphical user interface).
The Windows app of NordLayer has a dark, clean theme. It’s very easy to navigate – the Settings tab simply includes the General options, Auto-connect options, the selection of tunneling protocols, and the account options. Also, its ThreatBlock feature worked perfectly.
Meanwhile, the interface of the MacOS app looks totally different. Instead of a right-side menu, the app has the menu placed at the top of the screen. Also, the theme is light in contrast to the dark Windows look. The app offers the biometric login option but lacks the kill switch feature, just like the iOS version of NordLayer.
Just like the Windows one, the Android application isn’t difficult to use at all. It has the same dark theme that’s easy on the eyes.
Similarly, the iOS app is also dark-themed. It looks almost identical to the Android application. Interestingly, it also has almost all the features that the Android version offers, which is quite rare in the world of VPNs. The kill switch is the only feature missing from the list.
Unfortunately, I have nothing good to say about the TheatBlock feature on both the Android and iOS apps of NordLayer. It didn’t block the websites we tested on it, which was rather disappointing.
The customer support of NordLayer is really good. You can reach out to an agent 24/7 by either using a live chat, phone, or email. In addition to this, NordLayer also has an extensive knowledge base. I tried out the live chat and received a very quick answer – I didn’t need to wait for even a minute.
It’s also important to mention that the subscribers to the Advanced plan will get priority 24/7 support and a dedicated account manager. Meanwhile, those who purchase the Custom plan get premium live 24/7 support for custom technical implementation, as well as a dedicated account manager.
NordLayer solidifies its position as an essential tool for modern businesses, offering a comprehensive package of security solutions. With an impressive array of features, scalable pricing plans, and a relentless commitment to innovation, it stands as a competitive option for businesses seeking to fortify their network security.
The user-friendly design, compatibility with popular IAM providers, and the option to customize according to business requirements make NordLayer a recommendable choice. The anticipation of the Cloud Firewall feature hints at NordLayer's ongoing commitment to advancing and adapting to the ever-changing cybersecurity landscape.
Whether you're a small startup or a large enterprise, NordLayer's agility, security, and user-centric approach make it a worthy consideration for your network security needs. With NordLayer, cybersecurity becomes not just a requirement but an asset that propels business growth.
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What does NordLayer do?
NordLayer provides safe network access for both big and small businesses. In other words, it is a cloud VPN service for companies. It can help to control access to the network, the company’s resources, and sensitive info.
Is NordLayer a VPN?
While it could be considered a VPN for enterprises, NordLayer is actually a SASE service that relies on VPN technology. It creates a secure platform through shielded visibility, data protection, and increased security for the network perimeter.