SASE vs Zero Trust – What is Best?

SASE

As technology evolves, hackers become increasingly sophisticated, remote working has become commonplace over the past couple of years, and data and infrastructure security have become a hot topic. Cybersecurity teams must protect many more endpoints and a wider area with remote workers daily. Thus, many groups are changing their processes and technologies to adopt a zero-trust approach. Enterprises are adding a Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) to make their work more flexible and secure. So what is SASE, and how does it fit with zero trust? Let’s get to the bottom of it.

Backstory

Each second, the enormous damage that hackers are trying to inflict on organizations results in organizations and cyber criminals constantly competing with those who want to succeed by hacking or protecting sensitive data. Companies, on the other hand, are spending billions on security measures. Even compared to 2021, investment has nearly doubled to around $460 billion by 2025. Priorities related to risk management are clear, as research conducted by Gartner and KPMG shows.

Collected responses from CEOs and CIOs indicate a substantial shift in focus on security solutions and cloud services, up 61% and 53%, respectively, as cybersecurity risk is seen as the biggest threat to organizations over the next few years. Organizations seem to have recognized this problem and are headed in the right direction. However, Cyber Security Ventures estimates that by 2025, hackers could be siphoning $10.5 trillion annually from companies. This global tally includes any company, large or small, regardless of its field of business. This is because the antiquated perimeter network that used to be used has existed for so long that cybercriminals can barely overcome it these days. As a result, organizations are struggling to resist the pressure. But as organizations continue to lack effective solutions to cyber threats caused by human error or ineffective security policies, external and internal risks expose organizations to financial losses and reputational damage.

What is a Secure Access Service Edge (SASE)?

SASE is one of the latest significant innovations in cloud network security. It became especially relevant during the pandemic. As solid and consolidated organizations have become single endpoints worldwide, they have become less resistant to threats and much more challenging to control and manage from a distance. SASE aims to minimize complexity by creating optimized connections for remote users to access the organization’s cloud resources, replacing data centers with cloud-based network security infrastructure. It also aims to maximize efficiency by implementing more layered but unified security measures. It also changes the mindset and approach to security practices. There is no longer a need for a lot of expensive, complicated, and bulky equipment to solve the cybersecurity problem.

SASE application scheme
SASE application scheme

How does it work?

We will look at the five main components of SASE, which describe its concept. The principle is to combine the best practice components of network security:

SD-WAN Service (SD-WAN)

Software-defined wide area network (SD-WAN) solutions provide organizations with the added benefit of utilizing an enterprise extensive area network (WAN) in conjunction with multiple cloud infrastructures. This provides high-speed data exchange and application performance on branch office WAN edge networks. One of such a system’s main benefits is providing dynamic path selection from multiple connectivity options (MPLS, 4G/5G, broadband), thereby providing organizations with fast and easy access to business-critical cloud applications.

Firewall as a Service (FWaaS)

FWaaS is a new type of next-generation cloud firewall. It doesn’t just hide physical firewall devices behind the cloud but solves the device form factor issue and makes network security (URL filtering, IPS, AM, NG-AM, Analytics, MDR) available everywhere. Essentially, the entire organization is connected to a single logical global firewall with a single application-aware security policy. It’s not for nothing that Gartner singled out FWaaS as an emerging infrastructure protection technology with a high-performance rating.

Secure Web Gateway (SWG)

SWG protects users from Web threats and enforces and enforces acceptable corporate use policies. Thus, instead of directly connecting to a website, the user accesses the SWG, which is responsible for securing the user to the desired website. It also performs URL filtering, Internet visibility, malicious content inspection, Internet access control, and other security measures.

Cloud Access Security Broker (CASB)

CASB is cloud-based, on-premises, or hardware-based software that intermediates between users and cloud service providers. CASB can bridge security gaps and is distributed in a software-as-a-service (SaaS) format. In addition to providing visibility, it allows organizations to extend the scope of their security policies from on-premises infrastructure to the cloud and create new policies for the cloud context.

Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA)

Using the principles of zero-trust, “trust no one, verify everything” approach to cybersecurity, which controls user access as well as access to company resources, reducing the risk of internal threats. In addition to its ability to operate as a cloud service, SASE is flexible enough to allow a combination of different network security features.

The goal of SASE in the network

The SASE platform is a cloud-based solution that aims to improve cybersecurity significantly. It also optimizes cumbersome, hardware-based infrastructure, making it more accessible to remote workers. In addition, it provides less-efforts scalability based on business needs. Finally, it helps manage the organization’s security policies at multiple levels. Infrastructure built on the fundamental SASE framework requires fewer network resources and investments in the long run. It contributes to cybersecurity efficiency by integrating data protection and information security from multiple perspectives.

What is Zero Trust?

In networking, zero trust is a security solution framework based on principles concerning how levels of trust are interpreted in an organization. The essence of the approach is to stop assuming that anyone who once entered the network is forever trustworthy. However, the massive shift to remote operation and the increase in cyberattacks have shown companies how vulnerable outdated security model is.

Zero trust

Zero trust is the constant assessment of each connection (and its level of security and needs) when accessing resources within the enterprise. These connections include employees, partners, customers, contractors, or other users. Also, connections can mean devices and applications. Zero trust provides dynamic protection for each connection, adjusting access rights and other privileges based on risk status. It uses means of identification and creates a profile that allows you to determine who or what may pose a danger. But often, it’s not a question of who is a threat but who is not.

For example, in the case of remote work, millions of employees are accessing data from home networks on unidentified devices. While that employee may not have posed a threat in the office, that situation could change once that employee switched to the home office. A typical solution would be to block access to the corporate network and applications for this user.

How is Zero Trust built?

The essence of zero-trust is “trust no one, verify everything” and categories of tools are emerging that help you consistently implement a zero-trust security strategy in your organizational architecture:

Users & devices

Workforce management is the first step in bringing order to identity verification, increasing network visibility, and controlling traffic flow security. Tools such as MFA (multi-factor authentication), SSO (single sign-on), or IP whitelisting allow for a more layered verification system to provide secure access with extra blockers in case of phishing or lost credentials.

Network & applications

In addition to the lack of trust in connections, the zero-trust model also analyzes the environment in which external and internal data are transmitted. Partitioning and isolating the workspace into smaller segments and implementing ZTNA (zero-trust network access) or 2FA (two-factor authentication) allows management and compliance requirements to use more centralized risk management instead of access control.

Automation & analytics

Zero trust automation is straightforward to minimize the possibility of human error and increase the efficiency of the actions taken. It helps administrators detect incoming threats, alert security protocols promptly and prevent unwanted network interference. However, the ongoing analysis identifies deviations from standard patterns and indicates a possible need for improvement.

The right combination of tools helps the IT department do the routine security work:

  • Monitoring user and device behavior;
  • Verifying compliance with security policies;
  • Reducing potential breaches;
  • Protecting sensitive data.

Network traffic becomes more distributed, controlled, and segmented users can access only what and how much they need based on their defined roles. Thus, the potential for disruption is minimal but not zero. Therefore, it can be identified and monitored more effectively, as activity logs help quickly identify any breaches.

The main role of zero-trust in the network

Daily routine tasks are impossible without granting access to the company’s internal network, applications, or knowledge base. Zero-trust solutions maintain access control and put basic processes in order by individually validating users, devices, networks, or applications. In addition, proper tools and reasoning logic provide more convenient additional control over the overall security architecture.

Explanation of how ZTNA works
Explanation of how ZTNA works

SASE and Zero Trust are two parts of the same whole

Both Zero Trust and SASE are infrastructure systems that focus on security. They were created to achieve the same goals, namely to protect organizations from cyber threats better. Neither of these architectures provides an off-the-shelf solution as a platform. Instead, it is the logic of thinking about how to modernize legacy network perimeter solutions and security awareness. Although these approaches have differences, Zero Trust and SASE complement each other and are essential approaches to the future of cybersecurity.

How do they support each other?

SASE as infrastructure is a considerable security model that requires time and resources to integrate correctly. Consequently, the implemented elements work as a well-established mechanism, ascertaining improved security measures throughout the company.

The Zero Trust approach, on the other hand, is relatively easier to implement. However, it requires the daily involvement of organization members. Significant improvements in safety and security are why zero-trust tools are often seen as an integral part of SASE. The latter becomes the medium for implementing the idea of zero-trust.

Benefits of combining SASE and Zero Trust

SASE and Zero Trust help enterprises apply policies across their entire network. This approach provides several significant benefits, including more robust network security, simplified network management, lower costs, and a unified view of the whole network. SASE and ZTNA can also help enterprises significantly reduce the risk of data breaches and the attack surface. By combining these two approaches, enterprises can create a reinforced cybersecurity perimeter that is difficult for attackers to penetrate. This can ensure that only authorized users and devices can access sensitive data and systems and that users and machines only have access to the resources they need to do their jobs.

By Stephanie Adlam

I write about how to make your Internet browsing comfortable and safe. The modern digital world is worth being a part of, and I want to show you how to do it properly.

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