Global cloud adoption and the move towards remote or hybrid working is a worldwide trend today. However, it brings its own set of challenges. As more and more users use cloud apps and tools to connect to enterprise networks, the surface area of attacks grows incessantly, making it easy for modern-day attackers to plan and launch their attacks.
As enterprise security becomes a top priority for business leaders, emerging concepts like Secure Access Service Edge or SASE set the foundation for increased network and security functionality. Offering an array of modern capabilities, SASE helps secure access to applications while enabling seamless connections from any location and in any environment.
By delivering this seamless and secure connection to applications in any environment from anywhere, SASE helps:
- Streamline networking and security functions for the IT team
- Enhance an enterprise WAN via a scalable architecture
But what exactly is SASE? What are its core elements? And how can you begin your SASE journey? Read on to find out.
SASE – A Definition
According to Cisco, SASE is an emerging cybersecurity concept that “combines networking and security functions in the cloud to deliver seamless, secure access to applications, anywhere users work.”
By consolidating a set of components and functions into a single, integrated cloud service, SASE allows a single vendor to deliver best-in-class networking, security, and observability capabilities. More profoundly:
- SASE enables seamless integration of networking and security capabilities in a single platform, addressing the growing remote working needs of businesses worldwide.
- It helps in protecting cloud apps while making it difficult for cybercriminals to discover and exploit corporate data and information — all courtesy of security controls facilitated in close proximity to the user.
- Since a single vendor manages all SASE requirements, it streamlines security management while minimizing the complexity and costs of vendor management.
- Because all security and network-related issues can be accessed via a centralized interface, SASE enables transparency and improves enterprise visibility.
- Through zero-trust, it helps establish trust and ensure secure access to enterprise tools and resources.
What Are the Core Elements of SASE?
SASE helps simplify security, streamline policies, and increase protection via unified and multifunction cloud security. It unites security and networking through a flexible and integrated approach, allowing organizations to meet their multi-cloud demands at scale.
That said, following are the core elements of SASE.
- Software-Defined Wide Area Network
As an automated, programmatic approach to managing enterprise network connectivity, a software-defined wide area network or SD-WAN extends the concept of software-defined networking onto an application that an organization can use to spin up a smart hybrid WAN quickly.
Using SD-WAN, businesses can cost-efficiently manage applications, especially those in the cloud, and ensure traffic is automatically and dynamically routed to the most appropriate and efficient WAN path based on current network conditions, traffic, security, and quality of service.
- Secure Web Gateway
A secure web gateway helps protect enterprise devices from viruses and attacks. Enforcing a set of corporate and regulatory compliance policies helps filter unwanted software and malware from entering the internal enterprise network and protects users from being infected by malicious websites, viruses, malware, and other cyber threats.
- Firewall as a Service
Firewall as a service is another critical element of SASE that allows organizations to safeguard their business. Providing next-gen firewall capabilities such as web filtering, advanced threat protection, DNS, and intrusion prevention, firewall as a service lets organizations provision new services and scale seamlessly to suit the unique configuration and security needs of an expanding network.
- Cloud Access Security Brokers
Cloud access security brokers or CASBs sit between users and cloud applications and enforce necessary security policies. They combine different security policies – as and when cloud-based resources are accessed.
Through the implementation of security policies such as authentication, authorization, encryption, tokenization, and more, CASBs help prevent hazardous actions and malware from impacting users and the business.
- Zero-Trust Network Access
Zero-trust network access or ZTNA is a security product that creates a logical access boundary around applications. It shields products from being discovered and restricts unauthorized access via a trusted broker that constantly verifies the identity and context – before allowing access.
It also confirms policy adherence of specified participants while preventing lateral movement in the network – thus minimizing the surface area for attack.
If you want to embark on the SASE journey to enable network protection without impacting user experience or app performance, you need to follow these tips and the associated best practices:
- Identify the SASE goals and requirements and determine critical capabilities.
- Carry out a thorough network and security assessment and list down existing gaps
- Evaluate SASE vendors in the market based on their experience, capabilities, expertise, SLAs, and more
- Implement the different components of SASE in a phased manner and test the deployment to confirm functionality and success
- Continuously optimize the implementation through regular monitoring and take steps to integrate additional functionality if needed.
The Bottom Line
Cybercriminals increasingly rely on sophisticated mechanisms to launch vicious attacks. As a result, security leaders are under immense pressure to avoid the theft of data, IP, and user identities.
Although cloud apps have made it easy for the global workforce to communicate, collaborate, and work seamlessly, they also expose remote workers and the enterprise network to malware, trojans, and other types of cyber-attacks.
To strengthen security in 2022 and beyond, businesses must embrace concepts like SASE that help safeguard against an army of new-age cyber criminals. Using elements such as SD-WANs, firewall as a service, CASBs, and zero-trust networks, SASE allows organizations to restrict unauthorized cloud access, strengthen network infrastructure, and integrate security across the business for extended protection.