NordLayer - Network Security

5 use cases that argue for SASE implementation

By NordLayer
21 Apr 2022
7 min read
SASE use cases

With remote working becoming a new norm, enterprise networks are becoming more virtualized and distributed. SASE has taken center stage in this new digital environment, providing a cloud-delivered model for secure access and resource usage. This blog will look at what SASE is and discuss core SASE use cases that show how valuable the approach can be.

What is SASE, and what is its role in the Digital workplace? 

SASE (Secure Access Service Edge) was a phrase coined by Gartner in 2019. Since then, it has become a worldwide network security standard, feeding off the rising demand for cloud security solutions.

SASE is not a single application. Instead, it comprises a variety of technologies that work together to secure cloud environments and distributed corporate networks. That’s why it’s often best to conceptualize SASE as an approach rather than a single product.

The various elements of SASE seek to secure network edges that are changeable and cloud-based. Instead of relying on hardware and bare metal, SASE employs Software-defined Wide Area Network (SD-WAN) technology— allowing cloud resources to reach every endpoint. 

Endpoints connect to cloud resources via Points-of-Presence (PoPs) and web gateways, creating secure connections via proxy-style encrypted tunnels. Internal control panels allow managers to enact security policies via granular account management and provide the ability to track user behavior and data flows in real-time.

These elements achieve several goals that relate to the modern digital workplace:

  • Connecting remote workers securely.

  • Using network segmentation ensures that users only have access to the resources they need, in line with Zero Trust security principles.

  • Guarding networks against external intrusions and data leakage.

  • Avoiding technical problems associated with VPNs and increasing network speeds.

  • Integrating cloud resources with on-premises devices and legacy technology.

  • Real-time risk monitoring for exceptional visibility and robust regulatory compliance.

  • Simplifying network architecture with single control consoles and convenient cloud-based storage.

5 major SASE use cases

1. Reliable security for mobile devices

Remote working is becoming a standard option for employees worldwide, helping them work more flexibly and efficiently while reducing the need for companies to maintain costly office spaces. But remote workers can bring significant security risks, including theft, malware, and data loss. SASE provides a solution.

Key revocation allows managers to neutralize stolen devices so that thieves cannot access cloud services. Personal email accounts can also be blocked, while corporate accounts are permitted, adding extra anti-phishing protection.

SASE PoPs provide fast remote access to enterprise applications via secure web gateways with minimal latency, closely replicating office environments. Cloud-native next-generation firewall tools and web proxies also erect a formidable shield to guard sensitive data. At the same time, IPSec tunnels encrypt this data as it passes from remote devices to a cloud data center. As a result, remote working will pose a much smaller threat surface, with no loss of efficiency for employees.

2. Watertight Cloud data security

Cloud services represent a scalable, flexible way to store data and applications with minimal overheads. However, these resources need to be protected effectively to prevent data breaches and other intrusions.

The SASE approach seeks to protect data both within the cloud, on remote devices, and beyond endpoints - reaching out to external partners in some cases.

Endpoint security services like Data Loss Prevention (DLP) protect data at the network edge, addressing common vulnerabilities. DLP ensures that cloud-syncing processes are secure. It manages data permissions to avoid illicit sharing or printing, limits sharing from commonly used collaboration apps like Zoom and blocks externally connected devices if they lack permissions.

Simultaneously, Cloud Access Security Brokers (CASB) protect Cloud computing resources by hiding SaaS applications behind cloud-based next-generation firewalls and segmented SD-WAN networking. Together, these capabilities lock down the network edge and core, providing comprehensive threat surface coverage.

3. Network expansion aligned with business growth

Modern security solutions must be able to scale quickly and efficiently as corporate needs change. Companies need to connect contractors and additional remote workers or smoothly migrate applications and data storage devices.

SD-WAN technology allows seamless scaling. VPN bottlenecks are avoided by the distributed PoP architecture, while companies can add remote devices with ease. SD-WAN enables managers to create simplified multi-cloud environments with centralized controls - an ideal replacement for older MPLS-based routing.

Security teams can also manage privileges and user identities effectively. Managers can instantly add or remove users from network groups and automate onboarding and off-boarding to reduce workloads. The result is streamlined security management and granular user control.

4. Total visibility of historical and real-time cloud data

Complex networks can create vast and unmanageable data flows, generating serious vulnerabilities when managers lose awareness of the data landscape. Consultancy giant Accenture demonstrated this in 2017 when hackers accessed unsecured private data on four of its cloud databases, but it could happen on all cloud networks.

SASE adoption permits advanced visibility of cloud data both at rest and in motion. Data discovery tools can scan for historical data that may present a security risk. Monitoring tools can also locate all cloud apps on the SD-WAN and isolate potential threats. At the same time, Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM) enables managers to update antivirus capabilities and negate persistent threats.

Additionally, the SASE approach allows security teams to stage gradual and controlled migrations to cloud resources, ensuring coverage of all threat surfaces during transitional periods.

5. Real-time behavior monitoring to ensure security

Cloud systems are constantly at risk from malicious intrusions, whether they occur via malware, insider threats, or credential theft. Poorly secured systems enable rapid lateral movement within networks, compromising sensitive data and compliance strategies.

SASE incorporates a range of features that enable the application of Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA) and minimizes critical security risks.

Profile management at the network edge via Secure Sign-On and multilayered authentication reduces the risk of unauthorized access. The software can also monitor log-in times and locations to detect any anomalies. When users gain access to the SD-WAN, behavior monitoring systems track their activity, delivering instant alerts in the event of security breaches.

SASE provides risk-adaptive tools to respond to these security alerts.

Security teams can use graduated sanctions to limit user privileges or block users outright, shutting down lateral movement. Forensic insights also provide updates regarding alerts and information to improve security in the future.

The multiple benefits of SASE

Those are five essential use cases for Secure Access Service Edge technology, but they aren’t alone. For instance, SASE is used to add IoT and Edge Computing capabilities to company networks without risking security breaches.

Secure Access Service Edge implementations can also include in-depth rights management tools to guard intellectual property rights and prevent data theft. Companies with a legacy data center or DLP security tools that they wish to retain can also easily integrate them within the SASE model.

Additionally, SASE functions as a route to improved performance. One single setup can include Diverse DLP, authentication, Virtual Private Networks, and antivirus applications. Data flow monitoring provides information to mitigate chokepoints and balance loads across the Software-Defined WAN, while centralized management makes updating security tools easier.

Why is it time to implement SASE?

Given the multiple benefits of SASE over traditional perimeter protection, there is no wrong time to start the implementation process. However, there are some signs that your business is in critical need of a SASE-based solution.

  • If you plan a rapid expansion in remote work or workforce strength, you may need to upgrade. SASE allows you to accommodate large numbers of remote devices safely, with the capacity to scale quickly.

  • Migration to cloud resources and the creation of client databases can also necessitate changes to your security posture. SASE can address weaknesses related to fragmented data storage, cloud databases, and diverse application portfolios by facilitating smooth migration to SD-WAN technology.

  • SASE can also be a remedy for poor network performance. SASE can be a viable alternative if you find that VPNs are causing chokepoints and speed deficiencies. The same applies when bringing multiple security systems under a single umbrella. 

  • Finally, SASE is a wise move if you plan to upgrade your compliance strategy. Comprehensive SASE environments are a gold-standard investment for meeting regulatory requirements across virtually all global sectors.

How NordLayer can help with your SASE strategy

As these use cases show, SASE blends security and flexibility with advanced Cloud functionality. It allows companies to upgrade their network architecture to meet remote working demands, network access control, edge computing, and internet threat protection.

If you want to realize the many benefits of SASE, NordLayer can help. Our SASE services can reduce costs, simplify network management, and rapidly scale when required.

Get in touch with our team, and we will lead you through the many deployment options. With our help, you can abandon outdated network security and find new, safer ways to take your business forward.

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