Can SASE really help to curb cyber threats?

August 26th, 2022 by · Leave a Comment

This Industry Viewpoint was authored by Todd Kiehn, SVP Global Product Management, GTT

When the world hit pause during the pandemic, home offices, remote work, and the adoption of cloud-based business applications created new avenues of attack for cybercriminals. Distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks, malware, ransomware, and other criminal and disruptive activity surged significantly. According to Omdia, there has been an increase in security attacks on enterprises since 2020 across network applications, public and private clouds, and fixed and mobile endpoints.

Along came SASE, or Secure Access Service Edge – a framework that promises a better and more secure integration of software-defined networking and cloud-based security. Though the concept was first coined in 2019, it unsurprisingly rose to popularity in the last two years.

The questions on everyone’s mind are: Does it work, and is it enough to curb cyber threats? The short answer is yes, though its effectiveness depends on how SASE is deployed in the organization.

Throwback to the height of the pandemic

Before we dive in further, let’s set the scene back to 2020. Then, many enterprises were pressured to accelerate digital initiatives. Suddenly, IT and security teams needed to connect and secure employees over internet services. This meant migrating business applications and workloads to the cloud so employees could continue to perform their jobs and maintain business operations. Companies had to dial up their investments and focus on security.

A new enterprise survey by Omdia compared results from 2020 and 2021 and found that the 18-month investment plans for enterprises show a steady increase in all areas of security, reflecting growing concern over ever-evolving security threats. Key areas of investment growth include traditional security capabilities such as firewalls and increased focus on protecting data and applications by tightly managing access to network and business applications.

These findings represent an encouraging sign of companies moving in the right direction, but another key one stands out. The survey found that enterprise SASE adopters are happy with their deployment and operating experiences, with satisfaction ratings reaching the highest Omdia has recorded for any network transformation service since 2017.

Deploying SASE successfully

All that said, a truly successful deployment hinges on the company’s security strategy and taking a consultative approach to network transformation. It is important to remember that SASE is not its own technology or a service: the term describes a suite of services that combine SD-WAN with cloud-based security services to protect the company from web-based attacks and unauthorized access to the network and applications. By integrating SD-WAN and cloud security into a common framework, SASE implementations can both improve network performance and reduce security risks.  But because SASE is a collection of capabilities, organizations need to have a good understanding of which components they require to best fit their needs.

For example, businesses in markets such as healthcare, retail and financial services often rely on remote workers to staff contact centers. Since these employees access confidential data online and communicate with customers via web chat, text and telephone, the enterprise needs to identify and implement security solutions catered to those channels.

It is also critical for companies to ensure collaboration across teams. Historically, network and security have been handled by different teams with different priorities and views. As such, integrating network and security and finding a way to unify teams to foster information and data sharing can protect the overall organization.

All paths should lead to one secure destination

We will find ourselves taking diverse paths in this complex network environment, be it deploying SASE independently or with the help of a managed service provider. But our destination is the same. All of us are looking for an integrated, robust approach that secures all aspects of the enterprise environment from headquarters and branches to data centers to devices, people and applications. Those who have yet to get started on SASE ought to, and those who have already started should review their present processes to make sure it is deployed in the most effective way possible. Ultimately, SASE is an approach that will benefit us in the long-term of this new era of working.

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Categories: Industry Viewpoint · Managed Services · SDN · Security

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