How SASE Improves Cyber Security: Transforming the Security of Your SD-WAN

How SASE Improves Cyber Security: Transforming the Security of Your SD-WAN

SD-WAN, or software-defined wide area networking, is a software-focused approach to managing networks that can connect geographically dispersed offices. Increasingly, companies are embracing this solution as a way of securely connecting branch offices to corporate networks, rather than relying exclusively on traditional MPLS (multiprotocol label switching), firewalls, and proprietary hardware.

However, on it’s own, SD-WAN can’t address all of the concerns companies have when shifting into an agile cloud future. More specifically, the SD-WAN networking overlay (or SD-WAN fabric), doesn’t automatically contain the security and access controls companies need to defend their networks in the cloud environment.

That’s where SASE comes in.

Addressing the Limitations of SD-WAN for Security

For years, companies have been moving their processes and data to the cloud, leveraging the benefits of a flexible environment for scalability, and agility. However, the demand for more “agile” networks has seen a more drastic increase in recent years, as the pandemic pushed companies to reconsider how prepared they were for a digital future.

Rising trends like remote working, and cloud-based tools for business continuity have prompted a massive acceleration in the digital transformation of many companies from every industry. This shift has also driven an increasing need for networking solutions capable of operating in a cloud-focused, distributed space, like SD-WAN.

SD-WAN services evolved to address new needs for networks in the modern landscape, such as rapid access to applications and global controls. Rather than working with low-level networking constructions and functions, SD-WAN allows network administrators to focus on creating policies for specific applications used in their business.

This focus change also simplifies the art of setting policies per application, such as determining which applications to allow or block in the ecosystem. Unfortunately, one thing SD-WAN doesn’t address, is a rising need for more robust security.

As users continue to connect to applications from public internet connections during the age of hybrid work and BYOD technology, a new need for a more secure variation of SD-WAN technology has emerged. To address this, Gartner proposed a new cybersecurity model built on top of the SD-WAN landscape, called Secure Access Service Edge, or “SASE”.

What is SASE and How Does it Improve Network Security?

Though still a new concept in the networking landscape, SASE has already attracted significant interest from a number of technology market leaders. Experts predict the space will reach a value of around $5429.7 million by 2027 alone.

Unlike standalone SD-WAN, SASE involves combining the virtual networking capabilities of SD-WAN, with comprehensive control and security functions, such as:

  • SWG: Secure Web Gateway
  • ZTNA: Zero Trust Network Access
  • FWaaS: Firewall as a Service
  • CASB: Cloud Access Security Broker
  • Continuous threat monitoring
  • Adaptive access control
  • Comprehensive identity management
  • AI and machine-learning based threat detection, prevention and response

SASE works by providing branch offices, mobile users, and office locations alike with a secure, flexible, and consistent network, no matter where they are in the world. It does this by providing companies with a centralized portal, from which they can manage, view, and control their entire network. This all-in-one environment allows companies to rapidly identify endpoints, users, and devices, and apply networking policies in moments.

SASE means companies can rapidly connect their users to applications and data in a mobile and cloud environment, while simultaneously ensuring multi-branch, and multi-cloud security standards are maintained. Gartner believes this technology will be the future of SD-WAN tech, suggesting that around 40% of enterprises will have strategies to adopt SASE by 2024.

Unlocking the Benefits of SASE

Widely regarded as the next generation of SD-WAN solutions, SASE melds the comprehensive networking capabilities of SD-WAN, with the comprehensive cybersecurity functions companies need to power a successful migration to the cloud.

The result is an ecosystem which supports multiple virtual topologies and application-aware or policy-based networking, with the added benefit of high-level security. While the exact functionality of a SASE service will depend on the vendor, SASE universally aims to provide a holistic view of an organizations network within the SDWAN landscape.

The benefits of SASE include:

  • Better Access Control: SASE provides companies with a greater level of control over access and identity management. Leveraging strategies like zero-trust network principles, SASE assumes you’re working in a hostile network environment, and demands more comprehensive authentication for every device and user. This means you can ensure everyone accessing different parts of your UCaaS or CCaaS environment only has the right to use and see specific pieces of data and technology.
  • Complete Visibility: SD-WAN makes some important strides in providing business leaders with more control over their network, with central environments for managing connectivity policies and quality of service. SASE takes this to the next level by ensuring you can consistently see all of the devices, users, and connections in your environment. This level of visibility makes it easier to set up comprehensive policies for protecting employees and company assets wherever they are.
  • Threat Prevention, Detention and Response: SASE implements countless tools for threat detection, prevention, and response, often using tools like machine learning and AI to identify suspected threats and block malicious actors. The correct SASE solution will ensure you’re constantly aware of potential risks in your network, as well as the steps you can take to keep your business secure. Companies can even set up automatic alerts with continuous threat monitoring for all parts of the ecosystem.

Is SASE the Next Step for SD-WAN Security?

Increasingly, more companies are making their way into the SD-WAN environment, as old-fashioned WAN architecture becomes increasingly redundant. However, as Gartner has established, implementing SD-WAN on its own might not be enough. While your SD-WAN ecosystem can simplify network complexity and management, you still need the security measures in place to keep your network as protected and compliant as possible.

As cybersecurity grows more complex in the face of changing work styles and increased attack vectors, SASE will allow companies to enhance their security structure, without compromising on flexibility. With a single platform approach, SASE could even be the key to reducing costs for your networking and security plan.

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