You start to log in to work from the home office you’ve occupied for the last two years only to sit and wait patiently as your virtual private network (VPN) dials up. After a few minutes, it validates your credentials. You have access to log in and you peruse your emails over coffee.
 
One email stands out because it looks related to a purchase you made recently. What you don’t know is that it is a phishing email. The website it links to is malicious. Your proxy did not yet blacklist the site, so the site exploits a weakness in your browser. From there, it installs malware on your PC.
 
At the same time, you had downloaded a large group of files, including details about an upcoming product launch. This malware then collects sensitive data about the new product launch and copies it to another server. This confidential information is now leaked.
 
If this isn’t the day you want yourself or your remote workforce to have, there is a better way. Secure access service edge (SASE) converges traditional networking security and Network-as-a-Service technologies into one single comprehensive framework. It is not a new technology. The technology already exists, but rather than users coming to your network (i.e., clunky VPNs), SASE brings the network to every user, device and app. Let’s dig into six use cases where a SASE framework is valuable. 

Replacing VPNs for Your Hybrid Workforce

Most of the workforce has been at home for over two years now. This trend will likely continue. But VPNs, the primary way of securely connecting workers to your network for the last 20 years, are lacking in both functionality and scalability. They were not designed for this type of work setup. In fact, if most employees log in around the same time each day, this can cause lag and latency issues. You want to be able to offer quick, secure access without risking data loss. This is a concern when giving remote employees access to cloud-based apps. SASE provides you with increased protection while offering frictionless user experiences when accessing applications and resources at any time, from anywhere. 

Secure Third-Party Access 

Your employees are likely not the only people accessing your network. You also need to provide different levels of access to contractors and third parties, which will require varying levels of authentication. An end-to-end SASE solution allows you to put this authentication in place. This enables teamwork across companies by providing you with access management and restriction at scale. You control who can see sensitive data and resources and can set up policies by user, group and application.

Cloud, Digital and Network Transformation

Traditional security programs don’t take into account the current perimeter-less reality or the shift to the cloud. As applications, workloads and data move to the cloud, the security policies that worked inside a data center are not effective to meet different cloud environments, performance needs, geographies and other key factors that can change quickly. End-to-end network security from the edge to the cloud is a key use case for SASE. You get seamless software-defined wide area network integration to ensure policy enforcement and access control, while also taking advantage of cost savings through network consolidation.

Threat Protection

Malware, specifically ransomware, is a big risk. It can encrypt files and render them useless. But it can only wreak havoc if the code makes its way into the network. SASE helps stop this by filtering and analyzing outgoing and incoming traffic. What if, in the above example, you had been running on a SASE framework, including remote browser isolation? The malicious website would have failed to install malware because it would have only run in a sandbox on the cloud. A warning would have popped up that the website was fake, providing the chance to exit it and report the email as spam.
 
Additionally, a SASE solution can strengthen your overall threat management maturity, by applying the context gained from the new SASE data sources to your existing data sources and enforcing policies consistently across your entire ecosystem. This will allow you to respond to threats quicker and more efficiently.

Protecting Your Most Sensitive Data

You need to safeguard the sensitive data your company holds. In the scenario above, the exposure of confidential files about the upcoming product launch could lead to many problems, financial and otherwise. It’s important to classify the data that is most important for your business. Put policies in place to protect it from both accidental misuse and external threats
 
With SASE, there would have been data loss prevention (DLP) controls in place around those sensitive files for extra security authentication. Downloading it would have triggered an information and access management policy. That policy would have defined that only members of a specific group can access the information and performed a risk-based check to validate. This would have prevented those files from ending up in the wrong hands. 

5G, Edge and the Internet of Things

Internet of Things devices have spread in our personal and work lives, leading to an increased need for 5G wireless connectivity. With the increase in devices also comes an increase in types of devices. This, in turn, expands the potential attack surface. This trend poses challenges to security and application performance that requires increased scalability and control. With SASE, you can forge ahead with these advancements and reduce the risk of vulnerabilities with branch-to-cloud protection.
 
These are just a few of the use cases that a SASE framework supports, but there are more benefits to making this shift. To see these use cases in action and learn more about SASE, watch this on-demand webinar or visit IBM Security Services for SASE.

more from Data Protection