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Securing Remote Workers and Branch Offices With SASE

Author: Lorraine Bellon, content marketing manager, cloud security, Cisco Systems.

These days, it seems like the only constant is change, and the networking and security worlds are no exception. Industry predictions around consolidation, cloud adoption, and convergence that were previously considered aggressive now seem understated. And with the unprecedented move to remote work across industries, these massive shifts continue to accelerate.

The network perimeter is evaporating

Do you remember the last time you were in an office? If you’re like many people, it can seem like a lifetime ago that you were inside the walls of an office building. Some (or many) will return to the office in the future, but the capability to work from anywhere is here to stay. The same goes for your digital presence. In the past, networking and security models were perimeter-based, and policies were applied based on whether traffic was inside, outside, or moving through perimeter-based defenses. In today’s world, there is no hard line between “inside” and “outside” the office walls. This requires a new approach to secure users, data, and applications.

There’s more data in more places than ever before

As cloud adoption accelerates and more organizations store business-critical data in SaaS apps, the amount of internet traffic multiplies quickly. Bandwidth needs can vary dramatically over time, and traditional networking appliances struggle to keep up with the demands of newer types of content and a higher percentage of encrypted traffic. This leads to issues with application performance and latency – a serious problem for fast-paced industries. It’s difficult to scale the network in an elastic fashion with old-school networking technology. Without a flexible networking architecture, the lofty promises of cloud efficiency will go unrealized.

Security has become too complex

Along with the growth in complexity from distributed networks and multi-cloud environments, keeping your users and data secure has grown more complicated as well. Cloud and SaaS adoption are great news for productivity and velocity, but they can easily lead to gaps in security and issues with compliance or acceptable use. With networking and security delivered together, it’s easier to scale for growth and throughput across a wide range of security and compliance functions.

Enter SASE (Secure Access Service Edge)

Coined by Gartner in late 2019, the SASE concept aims to simplify today’s complex IT environment through a combined cloud-native networking and security architecture. The benefits are many but can be distilled down into three major categories: simplicity, security, and scalability.

  • Simplicity
    Deploying new networking and security capabilities has never been easy, but with many organizations working remotely for the foreseeable future, it’s more important than ever to keep things as simple as possible for your security teams. Purchasing fewer individual components and having built-in integration between networking and security elements saves time and money up front and makes day to day operations more streamlined. Using a cloud-native networking and security platform takes some of the pressure off your security analysts by allowing networking and security data to be easily aggregated (along with third-party feeds) to automate threat detection, management tasks, and remediation steps.
  • Security
    It’s no use having a flexible, scalable, easy-to-manage network if you can’t secure it effectively. Cyberattacks are growing in number and sophistication and leading to countless hours of lost productivity, plus reputation damage for the impacted organizations. As malware attacks become more automated and complex, cybersecurity professionals need to remain vigilant against gaps in visibility and protection. By bringing networking and security together into one platform, the SASE architecture can improve your security posture and provide the strongest defense against cyberattacks.
  • Scalability
    Your network rarely stays the same for long. Onboarding new employees, integrating acquisitions, and shifting workloads to the cloud all require significant configuration changes, but need to happen quickly. As more branches and users move to a direct-internet-access (DIA) approach it’s critical to have a simple way to make and configure new connections from either an individual device agent or a branch. A SASE architecture must provide fast, flexible, and scalable networking connections enabling high performance connectivity for users wherever they are.

How to get started with a SASE approach

Implementing a SASE architecture is not easy, but the benefits are clear. To better set up your organization for success today and in the future, there are a few key steps to consider.

  • Choose a solution that allows you to scale your network as your business evolves and provide effective security for users wherever they choose to work
  • Invest in a converged networking and security architecture that doesn’t require compromises in speed, performance or user experience
  • Choose technology that minimizes the number of policy control points, thereby simplifying both management and enforcement
  • Take small steps now to set you up for success tomorrow, and in the future

To get started, read the report Quick Answer: Cost Effectively Scaling Secure Access While Preparing for a Remote Workforce, where you’ll learn about:

  • How to secure network access for your remote workforce today
  • How cloud-delivered frameworks like ZTNA and SASE combine to deliver secure access
  • Steps you can take now to prepare for the future of your business

Get the Gartner report.


Author Lorraine Bellon is content marketing manager, cloud security, at Cisco Systems. Read more guest blogs from Cisco here.

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