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The Language of Cybersecurity

Exploring the Future of Network Security with SASE Vendors

  • by NetWitness

The security of networks, data, and user access is now more important than ever in today’s rapidly evolving digital landscape. Traditional security models centered around perimeter defense are proving inadequate in the face of new challenges posed by remote work, cloud adoption, and the proliferation of mobile devices. This is where the concept of Secure Access Service Edge, or SASE (pronounced “sassy”), emerges as a revolutionary approach to network security.

SASE vendors represent a structural shift in how organizations approach network security, focusing on a cloud-native and holistic strategy that combines networking and security functions into a unified framework. This approach is designed to provide secure, efficient, and scalable access to applications and resources for users, regardless of their location or the devices they are using. Unlike the traditional model of routing all network traffic through a centralized data center, SASE vendors leverage cloud-based services to provide security and networking capabilities at the edge of the network, closer to users and devices.

At its core, SASE vendors aim to address the limitations of traditional security models by offering a more dynamic and flexible approach. It moves away from the idea of securing a fixed perimeter and instead embraces a “zero trust” philosophy, where every user, device, and application is treated as potentially untrusted until proven otherwise.

In the following sections of this blog, we’ll dive deeper into the key components of SASE architecture, SASE vendors, and emphasize the significance of this transformative approach to network security. By adopting SASE, organizations can take a proactive stance against emerging threats, improve user experiences, and create a more agile and resilient IT infrastructure.

Remote Work

The rise of remote work has been one of the most significant shifts in the modern workforce. Enabled by technological advancements and driven by factors such as flexibility and global connectivity, remote work has become a fundamental aspect of how businesses operate. While remote work offers numerous benefits, it also brings about new challenges to traditional security models that were primarily designed to protect the boundaries of a centralized office environment.

Perimeter Dissolution

In a traditional office setup, security measures were focused on fortifying the physical boundaries of the corporate network. However, with remote work, these boundaries have dissolved. Employees are accessing company resources from various locations, often using personal devices and networks that may not have the same level of security as the corporate network.

Device Proliferation

Remote work has led to a surge in the use of personal and unmanaged devices, creating a diverse landscape of endpoints that need to be secured. Ensuring the security and compliance of these devices is a formidable challenge, especially when they access sensitive corporate data.

Network Complexity

Traditional security models relied on centralized data centers to manage and secure network traffic. With remote work, network traffic patterns have become more complex as data flows directly between users and cloud applications. This shift requires a more dynamic and distributed security approach.

Data Exposure

Remote work increases the risk of data exposure and leaks. Employees might inadvertently share sensitive information through unsecured communication channels or by using unauthorized cloud services, jeopardizing data integrity and compliance.

Insider Threats

Remote work environments may lead to a decrease in direct oversight and control over employee actions. This can create an environment in which insider threats, whether intentional or accidental, become more challenging to detect and prevent.

Authentication and Identity Management

Traditional models often relied on physical presence and IP-based access for authentication. Remote work necessitates more advanced identity and access management solutions that can verify users’ identities from various locations and devices.

Scalability and Performance

Traditional security models were often designed for a predictable office-based environment. The sudden shift to remote work can strain infrastructure, affecting both the scalability and performance of security measures.

As organizations adapt to the remote work trend, it’s clear that traditional security models are ill-equipped to handle these new challenges effectively. This is where secure access security edge (SASE) steps in, offering a comprehensive and cloud-native security framework that addresses the intricacies of remote work, provides strong identity and access management and enables secure connections to resources regardless of location. The next section of this blog will explore the key components of SASE architecture and provide a more robust security posture for modern organizations.

Key Components of SASE Architecture

SASE architecture is composed of several key components that collectively work to enhance both security and network performance. These components bring together various security and networking functionalities into a unified framework, providing a holistic approach to safeguarding digital resources and enabling efficient access for users.

Cloud-Native Security Services

Cloud-native security services are a foundational aspect of SASE. These services encompass a wide range of security functionalities, including next-generation firewalls, intrusion detection and prevention, antivirus, anti-malware, and more. By delivering these security services from the cloud, organizations can ensure consistent protection across all users and devices, regardless of their location. Cloud-native security services also facilitate real-time updates and threat intelligence sharing, improving the organization’s ability to respond to emerging threats effectively.

Software-Defined Wide Area Networking (SD-WAN)

SD-WAN is a networking technology that optimizes the performance of wide-area networks. It intelligently routes network traffic based on factors like application type, traffic load, and network conditions. In a SASE architecture, SD-WAN ensures that users experience reliable and efficient connectivity to applications, even when accessing resources from remote locations. This technology helps reduce latency, improve user experiences, and enhance overall network agility.

Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA)

ZTNA is a core tenet of SASE that emphasizes a “never trust, always verify” approach. It replaces the traditional perimeter-based security model with a model that enforces strict authentication and access controls on a per-session basis. ZTNA ensures that users and devices are thoroughly authenticated and authorized before accessing resources. This approach minimizes the attack surface, prevents lateral movement within the network, and strengthens overall security.

Data Loss Prevention (DLP)

DLP is a crucial component for protecting sensitive data from unauthorized access or accidental leaks. It scans data in transit and at rest to identify and prevent the transmission of sensitive information. In a SASE architecture, DLP mechanisms help maintain data privacy and compliance, even when users are accessing applications and data from remote locations or personal devices.

Firewall as a Service (FWaaS)

FWaaS offers firewall protection as a cloud-based service. It enforces security policies, monitors network traffic, and blocks unauthorized access to applications and resources. FWaaS operates at the edge of the network, ensuring that traffic is inspected and filtered before reaching its destination. This approach reduces the need for on-premises firewall hardware and simplifies the management of security policies.

Secure Web Gateways (SWG)

SWGs provide security and policy enforcement for web traffic. They filter and monitor web content to prevent threats such as malware, phishing, and data exfiltration. In a SASE architecture, SWGs ensure that remote users are protected while accessing the internet or cloud-based applications. SWGs also enable organizations to maintain consistent security policies regardless of the user’s location.

Each of these components plays a vital role in enhancing the security and performance of a SASE architecture. By combining cloud-native security services, SD-WAN, ZTNA, DLP, FWaaS, and SWGs, organizations can establish a comprehensive security framework that accommodates the complexities of modern digital operations. This integrated approach ensures that users can access resources securely and efficiently regardless of their physical location or the devices they use.

SASE Vendors

SASE vendors are companies that specialize in providing solutions and technologies that enable organizations to implement the principles and components of the SASE framework. SASE vendors offer a range of cloud-native security and networking services that converge into a unified architecture, transforming the way organizations secure their networks and provide secure access to resources for users.

SASE vendors develop and offer products, platforms, and services that support the following key aspects of the SASE architecture.

SASE vendors provide cloud-based security services such as firewalls, intrusion detection and prevention, data loss prevention, secure web gateways, advanced threat protection, and more. These services are delivered from the cloud and are designed to secure network traffic and data regardless of user location.

Many SASE vendors offer SD-WAN solutions that optimize network performance and ensure efficient routing of traffic across distributed networks. SD-WAN technology is a crucial component of the SASE architecture, as it helps manage and enhance the user experience.

SASE vendors often provide solutions for implementing the zero-trust security model. These solutions ensure that users and devices are thoroughly authenticated and authorized before accessing resources, enhancing overall security.

SASE vendors focus on providing solutions that seamlessly integrate various security and networking services into a unified platform. They also offer management and orchestration tools to simplify the deployment, configuration and ongoing management of the SASE architecture.

SASE vendors design their solutions to be scalable, allowing organizations to adapt to changing needs and growing user bases. This scalability is crucial as organizations expand their network and security requirements.

Since SASE architecture leverages cloud services, SASE vendors ensure that their solutions can integrate with various cloud platforms and services, providing a seamless experience for organizations transitioning to the cloud.

Many SASE vendors include threat intelligence and analytics capabilities in their solutions. These features help organizations identify and respond to security threats more effectively.

SASE vendors play a significant role in helping organizations modernize their network security and connectivity strategies. By offering a comprehensive suite of cloud-native security and networking services, these vendors enable businesses to implement a more agile, flexible, and secure approach to managing their digital infrastructure. When evaluating SASE vendors, organizations should consider factors such as their specific security needs, integration requirements, scalability, and the vendor’s reputation for innovation and customer support.

Emphasizing the Significance of SASE

SASE isn’t just a buzzword; it’s a transformative strategy that addresses the challenges of modern computing head-on. By converging security and networking functions into a single cloud-native framework, SASE vendors reshape the way organizations safeguard their digital assets and facilitate secure access for users.

As remote work becomes the norm and applications migrate to the cloud, the old fortress mentality of network security no longer suffices. SASE embraces the distributed nature of modern business operations, ensuring that security travels with users, regardless of their location.

SASE vendors ensure fast and reliable access to resources to ensure optimization through SD-WAN. Managing multiple security tools and solutions can be a daunting task. SASE simplifies this complexity by providing a unified platform for a wide range of security services, making administration more efficient and reducing the risk of misconfigurations.

With cloud-native security services, DLP, and secure gateways, SASE vendors safeguard sensitive data from unauthorized access and leakage, even when accessed remotely or from unmanaged devices.

SASE’s cloud-based architecture enables organizations to scale security services globally without compromising performance. The digital landscape is continuously evolving, and threats are ever-changing. SASE’s adaptive and cloud-native approach positions organizations to stay ahead of emerging risks and challenges.

NetWitness and SASE Vendors

With SASE, your organization gains the flexibility to adapt to changing business environments, support remote work, and seamlessly integrate new technologies. This agility is vital for remaining competitive and responsive in today’s dynamic marketplace.

However, there is a dynamic tension between SASE and your security operations center (SOC).  The quality of a SOC relies on its ability to see the entire IT infrastructure and the data it contains.  When SASE operates in the cloud, it’s essentially an encrypted “black box” within which SOC analysts have little visibility beyond the logs it produces. Network detection and response (NDR) systems like NetWitness Network can become less powerful because they can no longer see this important data set. 

Keeping with its tradition of supporting new technologies, NetWitness announced at the RSA Conference 2023 the launch of packet integrations with SASE vendors, including Palo Alto Networks (NASDAQ: PANW), Symantec by Broadcom (NASDAQ: AVGO), and Netskope. More are on the way, giving NetWitness customers a way to preserve 100% visibility even in SASE environments.  

In a world where cyber threats are becoming more sophisticated, and the traditional security perimeter is eroding, SASE emerges as a beacon of innovation. It’s not just a technology trend; it’s a strategic imperative for organizations looking to secure their digital future. By embracing SASE, you’re not modernizing your network security – you’re empowering your organization to thrive in the face of evolving challenges and opportunities. Consider the transformative potential of SASE for a more secure, agile, and successful future.

Contact NetWitness today to learn more about SASE and how you can protect your business when your employees are working in and out of the office.