SASE 101: Understanding the Fundamentals of Secure Access Service Edge
Last updated on May 31, 2023
In today’s digital age, businesses are increasingly moving their operations to the cloud. However, with this shift comes numerous security risks that can compromise sensitive data and confidential information. That’s where Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) comes in: a cutting-edge technology that promises to revolutionize cybersecurity by providing secure access to any application, anytime and anywhere.
In this blog post, we’ll take you through the fundamentals of SASE so you can better understand how it works and why it matters for your organization’s security posture.
What Is SASE?
Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) is a new category of security solutions that emerged in response to the challenges posed by digital transformation. SASE consolidates multiple security functions into a single, integrated platform to provide comprehensive protection for users and data as they access cloud-based applications and services.
SASE solutions are designed to address the unique requirements of today’s enterprise environment, which is characterized by a mix of on-premises, hybrid, and cloud-based resources. By consolidating multiple security functions into a single platform, SASE can provide a more streamlined and cost-effective approach to securing enterprise users and data.
Furthermore, SASE solutions are designed to address the challenges of the modern workforce, which is increasingly mobile and distributed. SASE provides secure access to resources in the cloud or on-premises, without the need for a VPN. It also offers granular controls to ensure that only authorized users have access to specific resources.
SASE can be deployed as a private or public service. Private SASE is delivered as a managed service from a single vendor, while public SASE is delivered as a cloud-based service from multiple providers.
To ensure a secure, facile transition to the cloud, Gartner initially presented the Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) in 2019. Combining networking and security technologies into one cloud-based platform, SASE offers capabilities based on the identity of an entity, real-time context, company compliance/security requirements and continuous risk/trust inspection during sessions. Through SASE, individuals, groups, devices, applications, services, Internet of Things (IoT) systems and edge computing sites can be linked with IDs.
By 2025, 80% of enterprises will have adopted a strategy to unify web, cloud services and private application access using a SASE/SSE architecture, up from 20% in 2021.
SASE vs. SSE
Confusion often occurs between the two sets of terms Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) and Security Service Edge (SSE). However, despite the similar name, they are not the same. SSE is, to put it plainly, only a half of the SASE framework. SASE stands for the more comprehensive structure that many IT executives want to use. It’s the idea of mixing contemporary safe access services (such as SD-WAN, content distribution, and QoS) with contemporary network optimization services (ZTNA, SWG, CASB, etc.).
Key Components of a SASE Model
SASE can be broken down into four essential elements in terms of its capabilities and technologies:
1. Software-Defined Wide Area Network (SD-WAN)
By choosing the best route for traffic to the internet, cloud apps, and the data center, SD-WAN reduces complexity and optimizes the user experience. Managing policies across a large number of locations is also possible with it and it enables rapid deployment of new apps and services.
2. Secure Web Gateway (SWG)
SWGs prevent unsecured internet traffic from entering your internal network. Your employees and users will be protected against malicious web traffic, vulnerable websites, malware, and other cyberthreats.
Zero trust is never assumed, and least privileged access is granted based on granular policies. This allows remote users to connect securely without putting them on your network or exposing your apps to the Internet.
Benefits of SASE
We already established that Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) is a cloud-based networking and security solution that enables organizations to securely connect users to applications and data from anywhere, using any device. It provides a number of benefits for organizations, including:
Reduced complexity: SASE simplifies network architecture by consolidating multiple network and security functions into a single platform. This reduces the need for multiple point products and results in a simpler, more streamlined network.
Improved performance: SASE uses software-defined networking (SDN) and intelligent path selection to dynamically route traffic across the best performing path available. This results in improved application performance and reduced latency.
Increased agility: SASE provides organizations with the flexibility to quickly provision new services and scale existing ones as needed. This allows organizations to be more agile in response to changing business needs.
Reduced costs: SASE can help organizations reduce capital and operational expenses by eliminating the need for on-premises hardware and reducing the number of point products required.
A Zero Trust approach: this removes trust assumptions when users, devices and applications connect. A SASE solution will provide complete session protection, regardless of whether a user is on or off the corporate network.
Threat prevention: With full content inspection integrated into a SASE solution, you benefit from more security and visibility into your network.
Data protection: Implementing data protection policies within a SASE framework helps prevent unauthorized access and abuse of sensitive data.
How Does SASE Work?
Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) is a term coined by Gartner that refers to the converged security and networking services delivered via the cloud. It is a new way of thinking about how enterprises secure their data and users as they move increasingly to cloud-based applications and resources.
It provides a single, integrated platform for all your security needs, including network security, advanced threat protection, user identity and access management, web and content filtering, and data loss prevention. It consolidates these disparate security functions into a single service that is delivered via the cloud. This allows enterprises to take advantage of economies of scale, elasticity, and agility that are only possible in the cloud.
SASE also enables organizations to securely connect users to any application or resource, whether it is on-premises or in the cloud. It does this by creating a secure connection between the user and the resource, regardless of where they are located. This secure connection is established through a combination of software-defined perimeter (SDP) and software-defined networking (SDN).
Challenges and Security Considerations with SASE
One of the key challenges with SASE is ensuring that the network and security functions are properly integrated and configured to work together seamlessly. This can be a complex undertaking, particularly for large enterprises with sprawling networks and multiple security tools.
Another challenge is balancing the need for security with the need for speed and agility. Too much security can impede business operations, while too little security can leave an organization vulnerable to attack. Finding the right balance can be difficult, especially as threats evolve over time.
Finally, it’s important to consider the impact of SASE on existing network infrastructure and systems. SASE represents a major shift in how networks are designed and operated, so careful planning is required to ensure a smooth transition.
These are just some of the challenges and security considerations associated with SASE. As this new category of networking continues to evolve, additional challenges and considerations are likely to emerge.
Best Practices for Implementing a SASE Solution
There is no one-size-fits-all answer to the question of how best to implement a SASE solution, as the specific needs of each organization will vary. However, there are some general best practices that can be followed in order to ensure a successful implementation.
One of the most important things to keep in mind when implementing a SASE solution is the need for comprehensive visibility and control over all users and devices accessing the network. This includes both internal and external users, as well as BYOD devices. Without this visibility and control, it will be difficult to properly secure the network.
Another key consideration is the need for advanced security features such as zero-trust networking and multi-factor authentication. These features are essential for protecting against sophisticated attacks and should be included in any SASE solution.
We hope this article provided you with valuable insight into the fundamentals of SASE and how it can be used to improve your organization’s security posture. With its comprehensive set of features, SASE is an ideal solution for organizations looking for a unified approach to security that encompasses both network edge and cloud workload protection. In today’s world, having a reliable secure access service edge system in place is critical for protecting your data from malicious actors and ensuring compliance with industry regulations.
Mihaela is a digital content creator for Heimdal® and the proud owner of an old soul and a curious mind. Passionate to learn and discover more about cybersecurity, she will gladly share her latest finds with you.