Given the ubiquity of the cloud infrastructure and the complexity of access from anywhere, there is an ever-increasing need to ensure cybersecurity as threats continue to evolve, further endangering networks and systems in the cloud. This has become more apparent during the pandemic as staggering numbers of employees across every industry have had to work remotely, which in turn has pushed businesses to accelerate migration to cloud-based digital ecosystems.
To address this, one security technology industry rapidly maturing in the cybersecurity market is a combined networking + security in a hybrid cloud and/or on-prem solution that remote users can safely and efficiently access to reach applications and data located anywhere. This is called the Secure Access Service Edge or SASE.
SASE is not actually a single product, but rather a platform in itself that includes different capabilities, depending on what the vendor will offer. These capabilities include the following:
SD-WAN: Software-defined WAN technology which is deployed at remote sites in order to aggregate, secure and optimize all WAN traffic. Branch-based staff would usually use SD-WAN to access web-based productivity apps.
FWaaS: Next-generation Firewall-as-a-Service replaces the hardware firewall with a cloud-based software equivalent that is easier to deploy and manage. It typically includes IPS/IDS and anti-malware.
SWG: Secure Web Gateway is a content filter that blocks malicious traffic and helps enforce content and data access policies. It can do URL filtering, SSL inspection, and DNS monitoring.
CASB: Cloud Access Security Brokers monitor both outbound and inbound traffic for security and policy compliance, as well as provide visibility into SaaS applications.
ZTNA: Zero Trust is an approach that assumes all users and devices, regardless of location, are untrusted by default and are thus required to be authenticated at each login, given limited access to applications and monitored for unauthorized or suspicious activity throughout the session. Multi-factor authentication, granular access control, and network segmentation are some technologies that employ it.
Benefits of SASE networks
The key advantage of the SASE framework is that it is able to adapt to the rapidly-changing network landscape efficiently, especially as the business applications are being migrated to the cloud and the concept of BYOD and cloud connectivity is gaining much momentum. This is done by shifting the burden of managing and securing a network from server-based applications in the data center to virtual and containerized applications in the cloud.
Because of this, SASE networks make it possible for organizations to:
Dynamically deploy networking and security capabilities as needed
Include network and security capabilities as cloud-based applications
Characteristics of the SASE Model
The SASE model requires technology and service providers to bring to market new platforms and architectures that enable organizations to deliver and manage network and security services with more agility at an ever-increasing scale. Primary elements of SASE networks include:
Cloud-native architectures with containerized micro-services - use of cloud-native design principles and containerization for better agility, flexibility, speed and scalability
Integrated network and security services - simplified management of different WAN networking and security services through a common platform
Cloud-managed on-demand services – combines the cloud with consumption-based usage in delivering elastically scalable networking and security services to globally distributed, edge-centric enterprises
Centralized policy control - a unified framework for deploying and enforcing security policies to all devices and endpoints across the network
Local survivability - maintaining local access to essential network services such as DNS at the branch level in the event of a disruption in WAN connectivity
SASE is becoming an invaluable tool in any business’ cloud infrastructure, empowering its users to maximize the potential of cloud technology while ensuring an enhanced level of security that will keep businesses without the risk of disruptions or data loss.