In today’s interconnected world, where cyber threats are becoming increasingly sophisticated and prevalent, organizations are faced with the daunting challenge of protecting their sensitive data and network infrastructure. Traditional security approaches have proven to be inadequate in addressing these evolving threats, leading to a pressing need for a new paradigm that can provide comprehensive protection at the edge of the network. Enter SSE (Security Service Edge), a game-changing approach that combines networking and security services into a single unified platform. In this article, we will explore what has driven the need for SSE and how it is revolutionizing the way organizations secure their digital assets.

What is SSE?

Security service edge (SSE), as defined by Gartner, is a convergence of network security services delivered from a purpose-built cloud platform. SSE can be considered a subset of the secure access service edge (SASE) framework with its architecture squarely focused on security services. SSE consists of three core services: a secure web gateway (SWG), a cloud access security broker (CASB), and a zero trust network access (ZTNA) framework.

What has driven the need for SSE?

SSE helps organizations with challenges related to remote work, the cloud, secure edge computing, and digital transformation. When organizations use software and infrastructure as a service (SaaS, IaaS) and other cloud apps, their data is spread outside their own data centers. More users are also connecting remotely to these cloud apps and data. Traditional network security methods are not effective in securing cloud apps and mobile users because they are tied to the data center, which means they can’t track connections between users and cloud apps. Sending user traffic to a data center for inspection through a traditional VPN slows things down. Traditional data center approaches are expensive due to administration and hardware maintenance. VPNs are also vulnerable to exploitation because they are not regularly updated.

Advantages of SSE over traditional network:

Delivered from a unified cloud-centric platform, SSE enables organizations to break free from the challenges of traditional network security. SSE provides four primary advantages:

1. Better Risk Reduction

2. Zero Trust Access

3. User Experience

4. Consolidation Advantages

Here we know about the each advantage:

1. Better Risk Reduction

SSE enables cybersecurity to be delivered without being tied to a network. Security is delivered from a cloud platform that can follow the user-to-app connection regardless of location. Delivering all security services in a unified way reduces risk because it eliminates the gaps often seen between point products.

SSE also improves visibility across users—wherever they are—and data, regardless of the channels accessed. Additionally, SSE automatically enforces security updates across the cloud without the typical lag time of manual IT administration.

2. Zero Trust Access

SSE platforms (along with SASE) should enable least-privileged access from users to cloud or private apps with a strong zero trust policy based on four factors: user, device, application, and content. No user should be inherently trusted, and access should be granted based on identity and policy.

Securely connecting users and apps using business policies over the internet ensures a more secure remote experience because users are never placed on the network. Meanwhile, threats cannot move laterally, and applications remain protected behind the SSE platform. Apps are not exposed to the internet and thus can’t be discovered, which reduces the attack surface, increasing your security and further minimizing business risk.

3. User Experience

By Gartner’s definition, SSE must be fully distributed across a global footprint of data centers. The best SSE architectures are purpose-built for inspection in every data center, as opposed to vendors hosting their SSE platforms in IaaS infrastructures.

Distributed architecture improves performance and reduces latency because content inspection—including TLS/SSL decryption and inspection—occurs where the end user connects to the SSE cloud. Combined with peering across the SSE platform, this gives your mobile users the best experience. They no longer need to use slow VPNs, and access to apps in public and private clouds is fast and seamless.

4. Consolidation Advantages

With all key security services unified, you’ll see lower costs and less complexity. SSE can deliver many key security services—SWG, CASB, ZTNA, cloud firewall (FWaaS), cloud sandbox, cloud data loss prevention (DLP), cloud security posture management (CSPM), and cloud browser isolation (CBI)—all in one platform. Plus, if you don’t need everything right away, you can easily add any of these services as your organization grows.

With all protection unified under one policy, all channels your users and data traverse get the same consistent protection.

Top SSE use cases:

1. Secure Access to Cloud Services and Web Usage

The primary use case for the security service edge is to enforce policy control over user access to the internet, web, and cloud applications. This has traditionally been done by a secure web gateway (SWG). By implementing SSE policy control, organizations can mitigate risk as end users access content both on and off the network. Additionally, enforcing corporate internet and access control policies for compliance is a major driver for this use case across infrastructure as a service (IaaS), platform as a service (PaaS), and software as a service (SaaS) environments. Another important capability provided by SSE is cloud security posture management (CSPM), which helps protect organizations from risky misconfigurations that could result in breaches.

2. Detect and Mitigate Threats

The identification and mitigation of threats is crucial in ensuring the security of internet, web, and cloud services. Adopting SSE and SASE technologies plays a significant role in achieving this objective. Given that end users access content through various connections and devices, organizations must implement a robust defense-in-depth strategy to combat malware, phishing, and other potential threats. To effectively address these risks, it is essential for your SSE platform to possess advanced threat prevention capabilities such as cloud firewall (FWaaS), cloud sandbox, malware detection, and cloud browser isolation. Additionally, CASBs enable the examination of data within SaaS applications and can promptly identify and isolate existing malware before any harm is done. Another important element is adaptive access control which adjusts user access based on their device’s security posture.

3. Connect and Secure Remote Workers

Enabling Secure Remote Access for Remote Workers In order to meet the needs of the modern remote workforce, it is essential to provide them with secure remote access to cloud services and private applications. However, using traditional VPNs can pose inherent risks. To address this, a critical aspect of implementing a zero trust access approach is to enable access to applications, data, and content without granting access to the entire network. This eliminates the security concerns associated with placing users on a flat network. Additionally, it is important to ensure secure access to both private and cloud apps without the need for opening firewall ACLs or exposing apps to the internet. An effective solution should facilitate native inside-out app connectivity, keeping apps dark from the internet. Furthermore, scalability across a global network of access points is crucial for providing all users with fast and reliable connectivity regardless of their demands.

4. Identify and Protect Sensitive Data

Discover and Safeguard Sensitive Data SSE empowers you to locate and safeguard sensitive data regardless of its location. By integrating various data protection technologies, an SSE platform offers improved visibility and enhanced simplicity across all data channels. Cloud DLP facilitates the identification, classification, and protection of sensitive data (such as personally identifiable information [PII]) to ensure compliance with Payment Card Industry (PCI) standards and other regulatory policies. SSE also streamlines data protection by enabling the creation of DLP policies once, which can then be applied to both inline traffic and stored data in cloud applications through CASBs. Effective SSE platforms also provide efficient TLS SSL inspection to address encrypted traffic (which constitutes most transit data). Another crucial aspect for this scenario is shadow IT discovery, which enables organizations to block risky or unauthorized applications on all endpoints.

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