SASE: Securing the network edge


The dramatic growth of Internet of Things (IoT) devices and external users has forced IT departments to move storage and processing functions closer to the edge of the network in order to process all of the data and avoid degrading user performance and overburdening the data center . Edge computing, however, has created its own security problems by spreading the risk of data centers over a larger area closer to the Internet. In response to these challenges, an edge security tool was developed: Secure Access Service Edge (SASE).

What is SASE?

SASE is an umbrella solution, a framework made up of software and hardware tools to ensure secure access by applications, services, users and machines to cloud and network resources that are normally provided as cloud services.

Gartner coined the term SASE in its report “Future of Network Security in the Cloud” and identified SASE architectures as an important cybersecurity solution for protecting the cloud and data center infrastructure. Instead of individual stand-alone systems, SASE comprises a range of technologies, from SD-WAN and Cloud Access Security Brokers (CASB) to secure web gateways, Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA), Firewalls as a Service (FWaaS), VPNs and Microsegmentation.

SASE benefits

There is a solid business model for investing in SASE. Traditional network security technologies are unable to deal with the increasingly advanced threats and vulnerabilities in the network space. As cloud and external access accelerate, organizations need to implement advanced levels of access control to ensure they have the necessary security requirements and risks to the network.

With remote access and software-as-a-service (SaaS) increasing cloud and external traffic, SASE is shifting focus from the central private data center to the network scale and the cloud, with security controls centered on the edge of the network. In addition to continuously monitoring for malware, risk and connection trust level, SASE can identify sensitive data and encrypt / decrypt content at wire speed, scale with traffic demand and provide distributed end users with a secure experience through robust access anytime and anywhere to data, apps and services.

How does SASE work?

The SASE framework identifies devices and users and applies policy-based security based on user, role, device, behavior, location and other characteristics. This ensures secure and reliable access to applications or data so that companies can implement secure access globally.

Benefits for organizations:

  • adaptability: In addition to the cloud-based infrastructure, providers can implement and provide customer-specific security services. Organizations can provide web filtering, DNS security, threat prevention, credential theft protection, firewall policies, sandboxing, and data loss prevention.
  • Zero trust: Tools ensure that the cloud and on-premises infrastructure eliminate assumptions of trust when applications, devices and users connect. SASE tools also ensure full session ownership whether or not the user is connected to the corporate network. With the rise of home and remote working as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, investing in SASE has become even more important in securing corporate networks and improving the user experience.
  • Better performance: By expanding Internet access to remote areas through a variety of communication technologies, SASE enables more people to connect to networks securely and reliably. Organizations can now begin targeting a new domain of users who have traditionally been more difficult to monitor and control.
  • Reduced complexity: One of the key benefits of deploying SASE is that an organization’s IT team no longer has to manage, maintain, and update the required security functions. SASE consolidates security risks and risk mitigation within the cloud services model.
  • Financial savings: Investing in SASE eliminates the need to purchase and maintain multiple tools at multiple prices. A company can more easily track the return on investment from its SASE implementation.
  • Reduced risk: By deploying SASE, a company can gain better insight into possible risk factors that are likely to affect the business. SASE encrypts all communications and activates Intrusion Detection and Prevention Systems (IDPS), URL filters and firewalls to reduce the threat of malware and hacking.
  • Privacy: SASE can be a key element in providing data protection and privacy and protecting a company’s data from unauthorized access within its framework.

Properties of SASE

SASE providers offer a global SD-WAN service with their own private network consisting of PoPs (Points of Presence) worldwide that are routed across the network to avoid latency problems. Alternatively, a company can consider using the PoPs from a trusted cloud provider. While SD-WAN and SASE use similar functions such as traffic prioritization and bandwidth optimization, the security agent on the end user’s device with SASE makes network decisions and routes traffic from different applications.

With SASE, the focus shifts from security to users’ devices. This near-source security can dynamically allow or deny connections to services and applications based on a company’s defined business rules. SASE manages the Internet exchange connections and ensures that the connection to cloud applications remains stable, which contributes to low latency.

Gartner plans to use SASE to implement a CARTA (Continuous Adaptive Risk and Trust Assessment) strategy that enables meetings to be monitored continuously. Using adaptive behavior analysis, SASE tracks and changes security levels and permissions when it detects a lack of trust in the device.

With companies looking to accelerate the digital transformation in managing data, especially in light of the changes brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic, SASE will be a critical tool to make this process more agile and scalable, and to help users – internal and external – a way to provide secure and consistent experience and access to applications and services from anywhere in the world.

We are now in a phase where SASE is evolving into a comprehensive network security tool. With a growing number of use cases and increasing demand, SASE is becoming a critical consideration for companies of all sizes and is now a secure way for IT administrators to ensure that cloud and network access remains secure, fast and available at all times across all regions .

SASE products

Providers who have specialized in network security and networking are taking advantage of the new opportunities offered by the SASE market. Gartner estimates that 40 percent of companies will adopt the SASE infrastructure by 2024, down from less than 1 percent by the end of 2018. One of the key requirements for SASE providers is a strong focus on long-term strategic product roadmaps. There is significant overlap between the zero trust, micro-segmentation, and SASE markets as vendors tailor their security offerings for the new edge world.

Some of the leading SASE providers are:

  • McAfee: To expand its SASE capabilities, the software security company acquired Light Point Security, a specialist developer of browser isolation technology, earlier this year. This move enabled McAfee to combine its existing cloud-native secure web gateway solution with browser session isolation to improve the security of web activity and combat threats in real time.
  • Scope 81: Gartner has named Perimeter 81 a “cool provider of network and cyber-physical systems security,” and noted that the company was one of the first to develop converged secure network capabilities.
  • Zscaler: Provides a cloud security platform that consolidates stacks of gateway security applications into integrated, cloud-based security services.
  • Twingate: Provides secure access to personal apps, data and environments, replacing corporate VPNs with a more secure, easy-to-use, trustless solution that aims to make remote working easier and safer. The company prides itself on its ability to deliver a reliable user experience, be it for the end user or the IT administrator.
  • Cato Networks: Cato claims to have built the first SASE platform which, according to customer references, offers all major SASE functions at a low cost.
  • Fortinet SASE: The network security provider’s SASE offering can be integrated into SD-WAN and uses the network firewall and secure web gateway technology to offer companies multi-layered security.