Why SASE Will Help the New Norm of Working Together


Cloud technology has revolutionized the business world, and it can be found powering almost every modern business function. Collaboration between geographically dispersed colleagues, third-party providers and business partners has never been easier, yet security challenges involving the cloud do persist. So, what remedies do organizations have? Sundaram Lakshmanan, CTO at Lookout, Inc. ponders over SASE solutions.

There is no denying cloud technology has revolutionized the business world, and it can be found powering almost every modern business function. As organizations embrace a new world of work-from-anywhere policies, home-working to cut down on office rental costs and global expansion, the cloud has, in many ways, enabled these business transformations. Collaboration between geographically dispersed colleagues, third-party providers and business partners has never been easier, yet it does present its own host of security challenges involving the cloud. 

Farewell to Traditional IT Security

Data that once resided on-premises was historically protected using traditional security methods like firewall appliances and device-level security controls, but these are becoming more and more obsolete, given how information is now being accessed and shared remotely outside the traditional perimeter. As organizations become increasingly dependent on the cloud, these traditional IT security strategies lose their significance within a modern business context. Attention, therefore, has to be given to improving cloud security, especially at the network edge, as attackers are leveraging vulnerabilities in the infrastructure to exploit organizations, demanding ransom payments, threatening to leak data and causing operational downtime. 

We witnessed a record-breaking number of data breaches, cyberattacks, and ransomware incidents in 2022, and the daily headlines are perhaps unwanted. Yet, these serve as a much-needed reminder that we haven’t yet cracked security as businesses carry on with digital transformations, prioritizing usability and efficiency over security. Many organizations struggle to grasp the notion of data being at risk everywhere.

As part of every security strategy covering the aspects of data protection and visibility is critical. Therefore, having defenses in place that keep critical assets secure, no matter where it resides or who is accessing it, it is vital to ensure safe collaboration between employees in the workspace. With that said, this does not mean one should place data under lock and key. Doing so will not allow workers to carry out their jobs nor collaborate, which will negatively impact productivity. A middle ground needs to be established that allows contextual information to retain data securely while enabling accessibility and use by those that require it.

To truly reap the benefits of the cloud, security must be appropriate for the environment, and one answer to the question of improved security for the modern enterprise is the secure access services edge (SASE) framework, which has been designed to meet these challenges. 

Understanding SASE

The SASE concept is a framework created with the modern hybrid working model in mind because the traditional perimeter, or “edge,” of an organization’s network has expanded beyond the four concrete walls. SASE brings together security and network capabilities within the cloud so that both access and security can be conducted smoothly. 

For example, applications or handheld devices used by workers will all have default security policies in place. Knowing whether they are all enabled is its own battle, and for an enterprise’s security team, checking each one individually would consume a lot of resources. Furthermore, many of the mobile devices used will likely be personal or unmanaged, meaning any chances the organization had of enforcing security policies would be a futile exercise. As a result, the security team has no visibility on what could pose a threat nor who is trying to gain access to what data. 

Traditionally, if an organization wanted security from the endpoint to the cloud, it needed to buy standalone tools that solved specific problems. But that creates complexity and inefficiency. They also don’t address data security holistically.

In an ideal situation, a holistic view of all devices would be visible to the security team providing information on location, type of device, data being accessed as well as user behavior, once the user has entered the system. 

Cloud access security broker (CASB) and zero trust network access (ZTNA) solutions enable you to do this across cloud, private, or on-premises infrastructure and apps. Another SASE component is secure web gateways (SWG) which provide visibility and control over shadow-IT access. By adding a layer of endpoint protection, security teams will be able to receive contextual signals from mobile devices and enable uniform security policies across the entire infrastructure. Moreover, with contextual information, security teams will know that only secure users and devices can access critical assets. These essential tools make up the SASE strategy and are available to all-sized organizations, especially those struggling to stay secure in the new cloud-first environment hybrid working world. 

See More: SASE Is Greater than the Sum of its Parts

What To Look For

Implementing a SASE strategy will help consolidate many security solutions under one banner. Previously, organizations would purchase dedicated tools for specific use cases to the point it would become unmanageable for the security team. Another challenge would arise when vendors would sell these solutions – ZTNA, CASB and SWG – separately, which could lead to integration issues. 

This is negated through the SASE unified approach, and to test whether the platform is properly integrated, one should evaluate the monitoring and policy enforcement abilities. An effective SASE solution provides a clear scope of user behavior and security risk potential of endpoint devices while also allowing for consistent policies to be deployed and enforced across all apps, devices and software with internet access.

Deploying cloud-delivered security is now mission-critical for organizations in this modern working era. Cloud and SaaS applications have definitely been a benefit to business operations, and it is in the best interests of organizations to adapt to these technological changes to increase productivity and agility in order to stay competitive. Equally, an effective security strategy deployed will help keep that advantage.  

Having security streamlined is a huge benefit as organizations seek new means to save costs, especially with tough economic times forecasted. Instead of having to juggle through multiple dashboards, systems and technologies, security teams can now focus, monitor, and implement policies from one platform. Bringing visibility, efficiency and security into a single strategy is the focus for many organizations in the perimeter-less working world, and the SASE framework enables that.

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