Why SASE Can be Your Solution in a Time of Uncertainty

It is undeniable that despite the sheer unrest and uncertainty currently felt around the world, that opportunity still exists and finds a way to empower. We have seen individuals across the globe come forward to help others, contribute to their communities and lift each other up.

Businesses are not immune to this increase in resourcefulness, as many have quickly pivoted to accommodate the incoming changes that seem to arise by the second due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

One of the more significant adaptations many people have met, if they have the ability, is adjusting to working from home or remotely. Entire enterprises across the world have shifted hundreds or even thousands of workers from in-office roles to completing their job by accessing networks and resources via devices and systems that do not have the same level of protection they have while physically in the office.

Even before COVID-19 became a worldwide threat, in the U.S. alone, working from home has been upwardly trending – with the number of employees working this way tripling in the past 15 years according to the Federal Reserve. After we emerge from this reality as we currently know it, this percentage is sure to increase even more, as many have started to report.

Regardless of whether an enterprise had existing policies and procedures in place to support working remotely or recently instituted them, they still need the same flexibility and speed to best serve their customers. Having the right network solutions in place is imperative to thrive in this new normal – and to prepare for the inevitable future.

Because despite the good that emerges in times of crisis, there are certainly bad actors and threats that arise to take advantage of individuals and businesses in a vulnerable time.

Exposure at The Edge

With COVID-19 we may see Gartner’s projection about Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) adoption exceeding the analyst firm’s previous prediction that 40 percent of enterprises will be using the cloud-based technology framework by 2024. The benefits of SASE, including the level of security it supplies, pointed to the future of networking even before COVID-19.

Now, attention will increase as the pandemic teaches enterprises the world over if they do not have the right framework in place, they are at extreme risk and may not be able to seamlessly conduct business.

SASE allows for the elasticity and agility needed to meet customer demands in today’s modern workforce – which was pushed further into modernity with the influx of employees working remotely.

Without a cloud-based SASE framework in place, these organizations would need to take the time to order expensive software, configure it and update policies manually without the scale, scope and speed of the cloud – and lose valuable time and productivity, not to mention open the business to threats.

With 70 percent of successful breaches originating at the endpoint according to IDC, the significance of monitoring and protecting the multitude of endpoints is extreme. Endpoints should have not one, but both Endpoint Protection Platform (EPP) for known threats and Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR) for unknown threats to combat against the risks that are directly present today.

A valuable SASE framework has these integrated network and security services seamlessly included to create a high barrier for threat actors looking to exploit remote workers – and so businesses do not have to waste time and resources to trying to configure disparate security tools into their network to protect their employees and critical assets.

Establishing a Secure Remote Workforce

Managing a remote workforce can be simplified by first recognizing the importance of a thorough review of authentication and access policies within the organization. Following the notion of starting with privileged access users first and then moving through the rest of the organization will prepare IT to enforce user-based policies across the entire enterprise – always following the principle of least privilege.

Deploying multi-factor authentication whenever possible is an added safeguard to put in place as well as ensuring the proper level of Active Directory (AD) auditing to continually monitor operations for suspicious or abnormal behavior. SASE is yet again at the core of the ability to continuously in real-time evaluate risk and keep policies up to date as data is accessed from a multitude of endpoints.

IT should also be paying closer attention to phishing attacks during this time. By deploying a Secure Email Gateway (SEG) solution, this is one way to protect email traffic and ensure confidentiality, but again organizations not leveraging a SASE framework and faced with transitioning their workforce from in-office to remote may risk losing costly time if they need to incorporate SEG separately into their security stack.

Another obstacle IT may face is the sheer number of employees working from home or remotely. Scaling encrypted communication when supporting remote access to data is vital to manage the increased demand and strain on the network and to protect the stability of the VPN service. Because SASE brings security and networking together in one framework, it allows for increased efficiency, bringing security to the user level.

Looking Ahead

COVID-19 has shown the opportunity SASE has to thrive and empower enterprises – in today’s unpredictable times and in the future. While Gartner indicated how enterprises will see the benefits of SASE, leading 40 percent of them to adopt a SASE framework by 2024, we may very well see an even higher amount of enterprises realize that SASE is a better answer to minimize risk and secure critical network and business assets.

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