By now, we’re all aware of the effect COVID-19 and the ensuing remote work revolution had on the cybersecurity landscape. Traditional security perimeters disappeared, cloud adoption soared, and cybercriminals took advantage. As such, security professionals scrambled to develop a solution that could handle these new challenges. And they did just that: Gartner, remarkably, coined the term Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) in 2019, pre-empting the pandemic and its impacts by mere months. But SASE isn’t a fix-all solution to our security woes; it comes with challenges. This article will explore what SASE is and the inherent difficulties with it.
What is Secure Access Service Edge (SASE)?
SASE is a modern networking and security architecture that aims to address the evolving challenges of today’s distributed and cloud-centric business environment. SASE represents a shift from the traditional approach of securing data and network traffic solely through on-premises hardware appliances, such as firewalls and VPN gateways. Instead, SASE proposes a cloud-native model that combines network security and wide area networking (WAN) capabilities into a single, integrated solution.
SASE seeks to provide secure access to applications and data for users, regardless of location or device, while ensuring comprehensive security and optimized network performance. These provisions are particularly relevant in today’s landscape, where businesses increasingly rely on cloud-based applications and services and remote work has become more prevalent.
Key characteristics and components of SASE include:
- Cloud-Based Architecture: SASE leverages the cloud as its foundation, allowing scalability, flexibility, and the ability to deliver services closer to users and applications.
- Integrated Security Services: SASE combines various security functions into a unified platform instead of managing a patchwork of disparate security solutions. These functions may include secure web gateways (SWG), firewall-as-a-service (FWaaS), intrusion detection and prevention (IDP), data loss prevention (DLP), and more.
- Zero Trust Model: SASE adopts a “zero trust” approach to security, assuming that no user or device should be inherently trusted. This approach means that users, devices, and applications are authenticated and authorized before accessing resources, regardless of location.
- Software-Defined Wide Area Networking (SD-WAN): SASE incorporates SD-WAN capabilities, which allow organizations to optimize and prioritize network traffic based on application requirements and network conditions. SD-WAN enhances connectivity by dynamically selecting the best path for data transmission.
- Micro-Segmentation: SASE enables micro-segmentation, which involves dividing the network into smaller segments to isolate and secure critical assets and data. This approach helps contain breaches and minimize their impact.
- Identity-Centric Security: Security teams base authentication and access controls on user identities rather than network perimeters. This approach enables organizations to enforce security policies more effectively as users access resources from various locations and devices.
- Centralized Management and Visibility: SASE provides a centralized platform for managing security policies, monitoring network traffic, and gaining insights into user and application behavior.
- Reduced Complexity: By consolidating security and networking functions into a single platform, SASE simplifies management, reduces the need for multiple appliances, and streamlines the deployment and maintenance of security measures.
Top 5 Challenges of Implementing Secure Access Server Edge (SASE)
While SASE offers several benefits, it also has its share of challenges. Here are the top five challenges associated with implementing SASE:
- Complexity of Implementation and Integration: SASE involves the integration of various security and networking functions into a unified cloud-based platform. This integration can be complex, especially for organizations with existing infrastructure and security solutions. Ensuring a seamless integration of different components, such as secure web gateways, firewalls, VPNs, and more, can be challenging.
- Data Privacy and Compliance: SASE centralizes security and networking functions in the cloud, which raises concerns about data privacy and compliance, particularly in regions with strict data protection regulations. Organizations must ensure that their chosen SASE provider complies with relevant data protection laws and industry regulations and carefully manage data access and storage to prevent breaches.
- Network Performance and Latency: SASE relies on a cloud-based architecture, which means that network performance and latency can become concerns, especially for organizations that require real-time applications or have remote offices in areas with limited internet connectivity. The efficiency of SASE heavily depends on the quality and capacity of the organization’s internet connections.
- Vendor Lock-In and Dependency: Adopting a SASE solution often involves reliance on a single vendor for multiple networking and security services. This reliance can lead to vendor lock-in, making it challenging for organizations to switch providers or integrate other solutions that may better suit their needs. Additionally, dependence on a single vendor can introduce risks in case of service outages or changes in vendor strategy.
- Migration and Transition: The migration process can be complex and time-consuming for organizations transitioning from traditional network architectures to SASE. It involves careful planning, reconfiguring existing security policies, and ensuring a smooth transition without disrupting day-to-day operations. Managing this migration while maintaining security and performance can be a significant challenge.
However, it’s important to note that while these challenges exist, many organizations see the potential benefits of SASE, such as improved security, simplified management, and scalability. Successfully addressing these challenges requires thorough planning, selecting the right SASE provider, and potentially re-evaluating existing IT and security strategies to ensure a smooth adoption process.
About the Author: Josh is a Content writer at Bora. He graduated with a degree in Journalism in 2021 and has a background in cybersecurity PR. He’s written on a wide range of topics, from AI to Zero Trust, and is particularly interested in the impacts of cybersecurity on the wider economy.