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Securing the Digital World

Understanding Secure Access Service Edge (SASE)

  • by NetWitness

Secure access service edge (SASE – pronounced “sassy”) is a modern architectural framework that combines network security and wide area networking (WAN) capabilities into a unified cloud-based service. It is designed to provide secure and optimized access to network resources for users, regardless of their location or the devices they use.

Secure access service edge represents a shift from the traditional approach of backhauling network traffic to centralized data centers for security inspection. Instead, it adopts a cloud-native model where security services are delivered from the cloud and applied directly at the network edge, close to the user and the resources they are accessing.

Acronyms to Know

Before we get started, there are a few abbreviations that we’re going to go over to ensure full understanding.

Secure Web Gateways (SWG)

A secure web gateway is a network security solution that acts as an intermediary between users and the internet, providing security and control over web traffic. It combines web filtering, threat protection, data loss prevention, and other security capabilities to enforce security policies and protect organizations from web-based threats.

Firewall as a Service (FWaaS)

Firewall as a service is a cloud-based security service that provides firewall functionality to protect networks and control inbound and outbound traffic. Instead of deploying physical firewall appliances on-premises, FWaaS delivers firewall capabilities as a service from the cloud.

Cloud Access Security Broker (CASB)

A cloud access security broker is a security solution that acts as an intermediary between an organization’s on-premises infrastructure and cloud service providers. CASBs provide organizations with visibility and control over their cloud applications and data, ensuring security and compliance in cloud environments.

Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA)

Zero trust network access is an approach to network security that requires strict authentication and verification for every user and device attempting to access network resources, regardless of their location or network perimeter. The Zero Trust model assumes that no other user or device should be inherently trusted, and access is granted based on continuous verification of identity, device health, and context.


HIPAA is short for Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. It is a federal law enacted in the United States in 1996 with the primary goal of protecting the privacy and security of an individual’s personal health information. HIPAA’s provisions aim to safeguard individuals’ sensitive health information, ensure the privacy and security of PHI, and establish standards for electronic transactions in the healthcare industry. Compliance with HIPAA is essential for covered entities and their business associates to protect patient privacy, maintain data security, and avoid legal and financial consequences.


GDPR stands for General Data Protection Regulation. It is a comprehensive data protection and privacy regulation that was enacted by the European Union (EU) and became enforceable on May 25th, 2018. The GDPR aims to harmonize and strengthen data protection laws across the EU member states, ensuring the privacy rights of individuals and providing a framework for businesses to handle personal data responsibly.


PCI DSS is short for Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard. It is a set of security standards established by major credit card companies, including Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Discover, and JCB International, to ensure the protection of cardholder data during payment card transactions.

Some Key Components of Secure Access Service Edge

Secure access service edge integrates various network security functions into a cohesive cloud-based service. This includes features such as secure web gateways (SWG), firewall as a service (FWaaS), cloud access security broker (CASB), and other security measures. These services are delivered from the cloud and provide real-time threat detection, data encryption, and advanced authentication.

Secure access service edge incorporates WAN connectivity, such as software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN), to optimize network performance. SD-WAN allows for dynamic traffic routing, application-level prioritization, and bandwidth optimization. This helps improve network agility, reduce latency, and enhance the overall user experience.

Lastly, secure access service edge embraces zero trust network access (ZTNA), which assumes that no user or device should be inherently trusted. ZTNA ensures secure access to network resources by verifying user identities and device compliance before granting access, and continuously thereafter. It applies policies based on contextual information such as user behavior, location, and device posture to determine the level of access granted.

By integrating these components, secure access service edge enables organizations to have a unified and comprehensive approach to network security and connectivity. It provides benefits such as increased flexibility, scalability, reduced costs, and simplified network management. Secure access service edge also aligns well with the growing trend of remote work and cloud adoption, as it allows organizations to secure and optimize access to resources for users located anywhere while leveraging the power of cloud-based services.

Benefits of Secure Access Service Edge

Implementing secure access service edge offers several advantages for organizations. 

Enhanced Security

Secure access service edge provides comprehensive security measures to protect network resources and data. By integrating multiple security functions into a unified cloud-based service, secure access service edge offers real-time threat detection, data encryption, advanced authentication, and other security features. This ensures that organizations have robust security measures in place to defend against evolving cyber threats.

Improved Performance

Secure access service edge incorporates WAN optimization capabilities, such as SD-WAN, which we mentioned above, but it’s worth mentioning a second time. SD-WAN enhances network performance. It reroutes traffic, prioritizes critical applications, and by reducing latency, secure access service edge improves user experience and productivity. Users can access applications and resources efficiently, regardless of their location, which will result in faster response times and increased productivity.

Simplified Network Management

Secure access service edge centralized network management and security policies in the cloud. This provides a unified view and control over the network, making it easier to manage and enforce security policies consistently across the entire organization. Additionally, cloud-based management offers scalability, faster deployment, and reduced hardware maintenance compared to traditional on-premises solutions.

Cost Savings

Secure access service edge eliminates the need for multiple standalone security appliances and hardware investments at each branch location. Instead, organizations can leverage a cloud-based service, reducing capital expenditures and operational costs. Additionally, secure access service edge lets you scale your security and networking capabilities as needed, which means you can avoid overspending and other unnecessary expenses.

Flexibility and Scalability

Secure access service edge provides organizations with greater flexibility and scalability in adapting to changing business needs. It enables seamless integration of new locations, remote workers, and cloud services into the network without compromising security. Organizations can easily add or remove users, applications, and resources as their requirements evolve, allowing for agile and scalable network management.

Regulatory Compliance

Secure access service edge helps organizations meet regulatory compliance requirements more effectively. It incorporates security controls and policies that align with various industry regulations. By implementing secure access service edge, organizations can ensure that their network and data security practices meet these regulatory standards, minimizing the risk of non-compliance.

Overall, implementing secure access service edge provides organizations with a comprehensive, cloud-native approach to network security and connectivity. It offers enhanced security, improved performance, simplified management, cost savings, flexibility, and regulatory compliance. By adopting secure access service edge, organizations can better protect their networks, enable secure access to resources, and support their evolving business needs in an increasingly digital and distributed environment.

Different Industries That Can Benefit From SASE

Secure access service edge offers benefits to various organizations across industries. Below we’ve listed different organizations that can benefit from integrating secure access service edge.


Large enterprises with geographically dispersed locations can benefit from secure access service edge’s ability to provide secure and optimized access to network resources for employees, regardless of their location. Secure access service edge enables centralized security policies, streamlined management, and consistent user experience across the enterprise network.

Small and Medium-Sized Businesses (SMBs)

SMBs often have limited IT resources and budgets. Secure access service edge provides an all-in-one solution that combines security and networking capabilities in a cloud-based service, eliminating the need for complex and costly infrastructure deployments. It offers SMBs a simplified approach to network security and connectivity.

Remote Workforces

With the rise of remote work, organizations with distributed or remote workforces can leverage secure access service edge to enable secure and seamless access to corporate resources. Secure access service edge provides secure remote access through ZTNA principles, ensuring that users and their devices are authenticated and authorized before and while accessing sensitive data or applications.

Cloud-First Organizations

Organizations that have adopted a cloud-first or hybrid cloud approach can benefit from secure access service edge’s ability to provide security and connectivity to cloud applications and services. Secure access service edge integrates with cloud environments, allowing organizations to enforce consistent security policies and ensure secure access to cloud resources.

Vertical Industries

Secure access service edge is applicable to a wide range of vertical industries, including healthcare, finance, education, retail, and more. Organizations in these industries deal with sensitive data, compliance requirements, and complex networks. Secure access service edge can help address specific industry regulations and provide a secure and compliant environment for data and transactions.

To summarize the different organizations that can benefit from implementing secure access service edge. It offers a scalable, cloud-based solution that combines security and networking capabilities enabling secure access to network resources and ensuring consistent protection across distributed environments. 

What to Consider Before Adopting Secure Access Service Edge

When considering the adoption of secure access service edge, there are several important factors that you should take into consideration.

Network Assessment

Conduct a thorough assessment of your existing network infrastructure, including the hardware, software, and network. Evaluate how well your current network supports the goals and requirements of your organization. This assessment will help identify any gaps or areas that need improvement and guide the implementation of secure access service edge.

Integration and Migration

Determine how secure access service edge will integrate with your existing network. Consider the compatibility of secure access service edge solutions with your current security tools, applications, and systems. Develop a migration plan that outlines the steps, timeline, and potential impact on the network during the transition. A phased approach to implementation may be necessary to ensure a smooth integration.

Security Compliance Requirements

Assess your organization’s specific security and compliance needs. Identify the regulatory frameworks, such as HIPAA, GDPR, or PCI DSS, that you have to comply with and ensure that the selected secure access service edge solution meets those requirements. Consider the security features, data encryption standards, authentication mechanisms, and logging capabilities provided to ensure adequate protection of your sensitive data.

Performance and User Experience

Evaluate how secure access service edge will impact network performance and the user experience. Consider factors such as latency, bandwidth requirements, application performance, and the ability to handle peak usage. Ensure that secure access service edge will optimize network traffic, prioritize critical applications and deliver a seamless user experience across different locations and devices.

Scalability and Future-Proofing

Consider the scalability of the secure access service edge to accommodate future growth and changing business needs. Evaluate its ability to handle increasing bandwidth requirements, support additional users, and seamlessly integrate new applications or cloud services. Ensure that it’s adaptable and future-proof to minimize distractions and additional investments down the line.

By carefully considering these factors, organizations can make informed decisions when adopting secure access service edge. We can ensure a successful implementation that meets their security, performance, compliance, and scalability requirements.

Integrate SASE with NetWitness

For all the benefits of SASE, there is a downside.  SASE’s strong security and encryption can create blind spots for enterprise security platforms, especially for network products.  NetWitness addresses this challenge through deep integrations with leading SASE products.  In this way, remote and edge network traffic can be processed right in the cloud, on the same node, and integrated with the NetWitness console.

This is critically important to the type of large, security-conscious enterprises who use Netwitness.  Through the years, NetWitness has continually evolved to support new IT and security use cases, such as cloud and virtualized infrastructures.  Hybrid deployments are especially common in these enterprises, so the ability to “run anywhere, see everything” delivers real value, and gives customers confidence that they can take advantage of innovations like SASE without sacrificing security.

Contact NetWitness today to learn more about how NetWitness can help you innovate with security.