The COVID-19 pandemic forced many organizations to adopt telework to maintain operations. In many cases, these companies have seen benefits in a remote workforce and plan to support extended or permanent telework programs.
However, traditional remote access solutions, such as virtual private networks (VPNs), used by many companies cause significant issues for corporate security teams. As companies explore long-lasting telework programs and work to upgrade their infrastructure to support them, they should consider a modern secure remote access solution, such as secure access service edge (SASE).
Security Teams Struggle to Secure the Modern Remote Enterprise
Historically, security teams have faced a number of challenges when attempting to protect their organizations against cybersecurity threats. Some of the biggest issues include:
- Understaffed Teams: The cybersecurity industry is currently facing a massive skills gap, making it difficult for companies to attract and retain the cybersecurity expertise that they require to protect themselves against cyberattacks.
- Large Alert Volumes: The average SOC receives tens of thousands of alerts each day, meaning that security teams are forced to ignore real threats while wasting time investigating and eliminating false positives.
- Disconnected Security Architectures: Many organizations have a large array of standalone cybersecurity solutions designed to address specific security needs. This forces security analysts to switch frequently between different consoles when investigating and responding to potential security incidents.
With the switch to remote work, security teams face additional challenges when working to secure corporate networks. Many of these challenges arise from the widespread use of VPNs for remote access, which create a number of performance and security issues, including:
- Complex Network Architectures: VPNs are designed to create point-to-point secure connections. This makes it difficult for security analysts to gain comprehensive network visibility because traffic is split over hundreds or thousands of discrete connections.
- Unscalable Architecture: The design of VPN infrastructure makes it scale poorly to the needs of a remote workforce. As a result, employees may adopt workarounds that improve productivity at the cost of security.
- Limited Network Visibility: Remote workers using cloud-based solutions may have no need to connect via a corporate VPN. This means that an organization may lack visibility into a large percentage of its network traffic.
- Lack of Security Integration: VPNs have no built-in security functionality beyond an initial user authentication. As a result, security teams must deploy and manage additional security infrastructure on top of the VPN solution.
- Inefficient Network Routing: VPNs’ lack of built-in security forces organizations to adopt inefficient network infrastructures that send all traffic through on-site security stacks for inspection before sending it on to its destination. This inefficient routing degrades employees productivity and encourages the use of solutions that endanger corporate cybersecurity, such as split-tunnel VPNs.
SASE Provides Solutions to Secure Remote Work Challenges
VPNs introduce a number of security challenges for the same networks and organizations that they are designed to protect. SASE provides a number of different features that mitigate many of the limitations of these legacy remote access solutions, including:
- Security Integration: SASE points of presence (PoPs) each include a fully integrated security stack. This ensures that all traffic passing through the corporate WAN is inspected and secured.
- Built-In Access Control: Included in a SASE PoP’s security stack is zero trust network access (ZTNA) functionality. ZTNA provides access to resources on a case-by-case basis determined by role-based access controls. This application of zero trust limits access to corporate resources and the probability of a damaging cyberattack.
- Seamless Visibility: A SASE network is implemented as a web rather than a collection of standalone connections. Since all traffic flows through SASE appliances, it is possible for SOC analysts to gain full visibility into all business traffic without needing to aggregate data across multiple systems.
- High-Performance Connectivity: In addition to integrated security, SASE PoPs offer network optimization solutions as well. By securely routing all traffic directly to its destination, SASE eliminates the performance issues that drive employees to avoid using the corporate VPN when connecting to cloud infrastructure.
- Managed Security Options: Lack of security personnel is a significant issue that impedes corporate security programs. SASE is available as a managed service with managed security offerings as well. This enables an organization to augment its existing security team with professionals with deep knowledge and experience with the underlying infrastructure.
- Support for Automation: SASE solutions create a corporate WAN that is homogeneous and has security functionality baked into the underlying infrastructure. This makes it easier for security analysts to leverage automations that simplify the incident detection and response process.
As organizations make the decision to rely on remote access solutions for the long term, they need to invest in solutions that actually provide both performance and security. Making the switch from VPNs to SASE is an essential step towards supporting security teams’ efforts to protect the enterprise.