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Is SASE a Good Fit for Your Business?


In recent years, network security has become an increasingly high priority for businesses of all sizes. There’s a few reasons for this – the reliance on cloud based applications, which was amplified by the number of people now working from home, requires there to be more security options in place. And if these security options can’t work in tandem with each other well, you may as well not have them all.

There has always been common elements between security and networking, and their reliance on each other has only increased over the years. Antivirus solutions, for instance, are now commonly produced by networking companies, and the opposite is true too, as security companies are moving into networking.

If companies are putting effort into their networking packages, they need to be giving some thought to network security, and networking providers need to start considering security. If they don’t, consumers aren’t getting all of their needs met.

What is SASE?

SASE stands for Secure Access Service Edge, and is basically the combination of both networking as a service and security as a service options currently on the market. To clarify, networking as a service includes areas like WAN optimisation, SD WAN, and carriers, while security as a service refers to components such as cloud secure web gateway, WEB security, and firewalls. They’re pretty much the best of both worlds!

Though you might not have heard SASE as a term before, you’re likely familiar with some of the concepts on which it’s based. For example, one provider has often recommended using security as a service with SD WAN in the past, but now uses SASE when talking about these two when used in conjunction.

You’re more likely nowadays to see providers offering SASE, and in the near future we’ll likely see an increase in the platforms supported. If you know anything about networking, you’ll know that new evolutions are always emerging – SD WAN is taking over from MPLS, and SASE seems to be the next step with our increased security requirements.

Why do businesses want SASE?

There are a few significant changes that have lead to an increased demand for SASE in the world of business networking, mostly centring around the ways businesses create, find, and access their applications. Here are a few of these reasons, and how they might impact a business in their network security choices.

Using HQ Applications

In the past, networks would use primary circuits, and also had backup circuits that were seldom used. The traffic from each location would be routed to the HQ (or Datacentre) – only around 20% of this traffic then goes on to the internet, with the rest floating around the network. Businesses would frequently use the internet for their backup in case their MPLS system failed and they needed a pathway to the HQ. Therefore, a direct internet route wasn’t usually provided for applications.

SD WAN Usage

SD WAN (or Software Defined Wide Area Network) allowed businesses a direct route to the internet for their primary circuit, which could improve performance by routing traffic for cloud based applications directly over the internet.

The traffic meant for HQ apps could then continue using the MPLS connection, and the circuit bandwidth could be lowered due to having less traffic. SD-WAN means that traffic is always sent down the most efficient route possible, reducing congestion, but requiring security for data going through the internet.

Working From Home

Of course, working from home has become the norm lately for obvious reasons – and this couldn’t have been done without the internet, which saw an enormous increase in traffic not being looked over by an in-house security system or datacentre. Lots of people who work from home don’t even need to be linked up to the company VPN, as their applications aren’t inside the corporate firewall, and the ones who do need to use apps within the network can use a VPN that routes the right traffic to them through split tunneling.

What can SASE do for business network security?

All of the factors listed above have lead to some gaps in network security, as a lot of business traffic is no longer protected by HQ security systems. Additionally, most email services work through the cloud now, and therefore require security. In essence, there are some real oversights right now in a lot of areas that need security the most. SASE can address these issues by providing a cloud based firewall and web security, referred to as a Secure Internet Gateway.

SASE essentially brings together multiple security products which can be annoying for IT managers, with all of their different alerts. Individually, without the context of each other, these alerts are hard to use practically to fix issues.

Consider the following: you go into your room to get a piece of jewellery, only to find that your jewellery box is open, and your bedroom window is wide open, without the piece you wanted inside. On their own, these events don’t mean much, but together, you can deduce through context that you’ve likely been burgled.

Though SASE can provide information about individual events, additional integrated security can help you see correlations between them. These security systems can then identify threats and take care of them automatically, without you having to figure out the problem. Endpoint protection and email security demonstrates this kind of integrated solution well. By using these features, if an email is identified as containing a potential phishing attack, an SASE system can jump in and block future emails from that address, and also block web traffic from browsers from accessing the domain it originated from.

Integrated security is the next big step in networking, and with its ability to utilise context and correlation, we should see some big security gaps covered.