SASE, the key network security component

Smart Cybersecurity Handbook 2022 Cyber Security

Secure Access Service Edge (SASE), through its components, provides organisations with a more secure way of onboarding devices to its corporate network using a cloud-delivered environment. This makes it ideal for today’s significantly different operating environment.

Wesley van Rayne

According to some estimates, only 12% of global organisations currently have a comprehensive SASE architecture in place. Given how rapidly corporate networks have had to evolve over the last year, it is a critical time for business leaders to start adopting SASE to extend their WAN VPN environment securely and reliably across any link to any location.

Companies expect their managed service and cloud providers to remain up-to-date and relevant to facilitate the growing demand for end point capability. However, they must realise that as data is increasingly accessed from multiple end point devices, outside the relative safety of the organisational network, the attack surface also increases. As such, they have a responsibility to better manage the security of their network environment.

The flexibility associated with work-from-anywhere is not only a security concern but also requires reliable transport of services to these devices, wherever they may be. The pandemic has fast tracked the dependency of organisations to have a means of delivering a highly secure and reliable platform for employees to continue with their day-to-day business from any location with minimal disruption.

This is where SASE becomes a critical enabler.

Understanding SASE

SASE enables services that can be delivered on cloud-based orchestration platforms. It facilitates traffic flows between security, WAN, cloud and end point devices. But perhaps more importantly, SASE empowers a business to add or remove any of these services in a modular way to improve efficiencies while not sacrificing the security of the network.

An enterprise would typically run a network firewall and a variety of security solutions for its endpoints and SD-WAN (Software-defined Wide Area Network). SASE empowers them to modernise this approach and deliver all these services via the same platform. This means a company can take the security installed on employee endpoint devices and integrate that within a SASE solution.

Furthermore, with a SASE solution in place, companies can optimise application and service performance while also delivering next-generation features on a per-site, per-device, or even per-application level. For the end user, this will happen seamlessly while IT teams manage the effective integration of SASE into existing network investments behind the scenes.

In some respects, a SASE solution can be seen as the extension of the principles and capabilities delivered by an SD-WAN solution. After all, if there is no way to guarantee reliable connectivity, secure-cloud-based services and applications cannot be used optimally.

This means a business must look towards a trusted partner that can integrate multiple enhanced network services, such as SD-WAN; cloud security, CASB (cloud access security broker) etc., while minimising the disruption to the current network environment. Seamlessly integrating SD-WAN gateways with SASE components form the building blocks for facilitating a secure, reliable and optimal work-from-anywhere environment.

Benefiting from SASE

SASE makes the transition to the cloud easier as it imbues infrastructure with increased flexibility to adapt to organisational needs. The correct partner to help with the adoption of SASE can adapt to business needs instead of requiring the company to change how it works to benefit from the solution.

Another strength of SASE is that it creates a secure leg into the public cloud without needing to worry about cumbersome ‘boxes’ in the middle. Not having to shoehorn unnecessary devices into the business environment means the organisation can remain focused on delivering strategic value.

By delivering integration into cloud products, a SASE solution provides more visibility and less disruption on existing infrastructure. It therefore does not take significant change to promulgate SASE on the network with the organisation not having to overhaul anything. This provides a more seamless transition that will help drive adoption of SASE in the country.

Safety first

Of course, reliably transporting traffic over the network is just one component of this ‘new’ environment. It is also important to cloud deliver next-generation security services to the traffic as it exists on the secure VPN environment of the business.

With traffic patterns shifting more toward cloud environments that are accessible over the Internet, as well as end users accessing these services from an increasing variety of devices and locations, securing enterprise data becomes more complex.

Because the lines of the perimeter have become blurred as people start connecting to a corporate network from different geographic locations using a myriad of devices, a traditional on-premises appliance-based approach to security is no longer effective. SASE solutions are geared to addressing these challenges by offering cloud-delivered security services and securely transporting traffic to these services by leveraging on-site and on-device SD-WAN technology.

The key difference between a standalone security setup that is typically distributed via the cloud or on-premises solutions and a SASE security setup is that all the components (security, access and SDN – software defined network) are delivered via orchestration platforms. These integrate seamlessly into the back-end and can combine multiple products into a single SASE solution.

Making it real

For example, one of our customers provides mobile devices to its couriers to track deliveries, from blood samples to internal documents. But because these are fully operational mobile devices, the risk is that the drivers could use it for non-business reasons, significantly expanding the potential attack surface, not to mention incurring high data costs.

By considering a SASE solution, the company can not only leverage a more converged way of securely onboarding mobile devices to the network, but also extend its VPN via a cloud-delivered solution. This will see its network being more easily expanded to the public cloud while resulting in improved protection at a device level.

So, whether it is a courier, an employee working from home, or branch users, the company will significantly improve security, access to the internal network and manage the cost of mobile data more effectively.

With SASE in place, companies can combine network and security into a more cohesive whole. In a distributed work environment, no organisation can afford to ignore the connectivity and security benefits provided by SASE.

As threat factors become more advanced and increasingly target end users and companies alike, SASE will be one of the key priorities to shore-up defences while improving network efficiencies.

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