What is SASE and Zero trust?

Cybersecurity investment is rising exponentially, and according to the latest reports, investment in the field this year has already surpassed the tally from 2020. It is unsurprising as global cybersecurity threats and related incidents caused billions of dollars of loss for businesses last year and it is predicted to cause more financial damage this year. Amidst such a scenario, cybersecurity is abuzz with two security solutions namely Zero Trust and SASE, which are touted as the future of integrated security approaches to counter cybersecurity threats. 

In addition, as more and more organizations shift to the cloud and embrace digital transformation, security trends and transformations are unable to keep up with it. Consequently, security gaps are developing which are easily exploited by threat actors. Thus, Zero Trust and SASE are modern security frameworks that can help businesses to be future-ready against unseen and umpteen cybersecurity threats. 

Zero Trust Network Access – ZTNA

In simple words, Zero Trust Network Access considers all content to be untrustworthy, irrespective of whether it is from a trusted source or not. The framework counts applications, software services, websites and even email content as malicious. Thus, all content needs to be subject to security controls/verification, and are allowed only with explicit permissions. 

Developed by Forrester Research, Zero Trust Network Access is based on the principle of least privilege to network access. It refuses to accept the assumption that everyone inside an entity can be trusted. More specifically, it means that no user or device is given access to resources solely based on location on the network. It avoids granting access to applications based on IP addresses or any other network-based criteria and sees trust as vulnerability.

With Zero Trust, businesses need to identify a protect surface, which essentially constitutes the network’s most valued assets, applications, data and services. Every organization has a unique protect surface. Once it is identified, analyse the traffic around it by understanding about user, application, device, service interaction. Thereafter, you can place controls around the protect surface, resulting in a micro-perimeter. Segmentation gateway can be used to create a micro-perimeter, which is an advanced firewall. It enables only legitimate applications and traffic can access protect surface.

Segmentation gateway has other benefits as well. In addition to the granular visibility related to traffic, granular Layer 7 policy is applied along with extra inspection layers and access control features. It is based on Kipling Method, which is helpful in defining the Zero Trust policy comprehensively. Thus, the Zero Trust policy can help determine who can access the micro-perimeter, continuously monitoring the same and protecting data from unauthorized users.  

Zero Trust understands the current operating environment and recognizes the fact that users, as well as data, can be located anywhere, ranging from cloud to office or home etc. This is the reason why Zero Trust Policy should engulf your complete environment. Since employees are working from home, offices, different spaces, cafes, using different devices, it is imperative to have good visibility and control to protect data loss. It achieves this objective by completely disavowing network-based control access and provides granular access controls with the help of robust authorization and authentication technology to administrators or authorities. The advantage of ZTNA is that users only get access to applications depending on their roles and responsibilities in the organization. Such controls play a vital role in network protection from cybercriminals from both inside and outside the network.

To implement Zero Trust Policy, know that it can be done over your current architecture. It does not demand replacing your existing technology. It is important to know that there are products that work well with Zero Trust while others don’t. To successfully implement Zero Trust, you must identify protect surface, work out the transaction flows, develop an architecture and policy and finally monitor and maintain the framework. 

Secure Access Service Edge – SASE

Secure Access Service Edge is a modern security approach to networking. Introduced by Gartner way back in 2019, the cloud architecture model combines cloud network and security and offers a single cloud service. It includes software-defined WAN, Zero Trust Network Access, firewall as service, secure web gateways, Software-as-a-Service. As most organizations now use cloud services, the SASE approach can be beneficial. Previously, the debate about using Secure Access Service Edge was around how much speed can be attained against the control. However, the latest technology combines both speed as well as control. The SASE framework design is such that it helps security professionals to assess parameters like security, cost and reliability of different network sessions.

As mentioned, more and more businesses are looking to grow by opting for cloud services. It has pushed data, users, applications, devices and services outside the conventional enterprise premises. This drastic shift outside the perimeter hasn’t changed the need for everything to pass through a network parameter according to the network architecture designed. It means users need to go back to the corporate network using technologies only to go back again to the outside world, which affects productivity and user performance.

SASE helps in overcoming these challenges and businesses need cloud-based and cloud-delivered secure access service edge. This framework makes possible secure and quick cloud services built on edge security and brilliant capabilities pertaining to connectivity. 

In addition, the SASE framework developed by Gartner offers policy-based SASE without considering the location or capabilities of the network requesting access. 

Benefits of SASE includes lesser cost and complexity, less risk exposure thus more agile, better performance, ease of use, transparency, centralized management and decision making possible with distributed enforcement. 

ZTNA and SASE – The Integrated Approach

As you can see ZTNA and SASE are not competing security solutions. Instead, ZTNA can be regarded as a subset of SASE architecture. However, it is important to note that SASE is a long-term approach that ultimately may require Zero Rust for network security objectives. Thus, cybersecurity professionals and the whole team in a company should adopt the integrated approach of ZTNA and SASE before making important network architectural decisions. Moreover, all security and networking projects should be in sync with the SASE approach as it will boost your organization’s security posture. 

ZTNA and SASE Benefits

 Security posture receives a great boost with ZTNA and SASE combined approach as it enables an identity-focused default-deny approach to security. It also helps in limiting the damage done even when a malicious actor is able to breach the network. Another feature of SASE security services is that they can establish a standard for normal network behaviour. This proactive network security approach assists in threat detection, containing the threat and preventing any damage. 

Modern enterprises often depend on VPN point solutions which demands appliances such as SD-WAN and NGFX for better functionality and increases network complexity. ZTNA & SASE provides a cloud-based solution that functions for every network edge. This in turn means that different components such as cloud, users, office, home or networks get similar network security and lessens complexities and cost. 

It is high time that business organizations may take strong cybersecurity measures to counter the ever-evolving cyber threats lurking from inside and outside the organization. Companies need to add a big chunk of their budget allocated for IT for cybersecurity in 2021. This will pave the way for your business to protect itself from unseen financial losses due to malicious online actors. ZTNA and SASE can transform your cloud networking and security. You can also hire experts in cybersecurity to take up SASE and Zero Trust implementation.