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Embracing SSE to strengthen the business network

By Warren Gordon, Business Unit Manager at Duxbury Networking

Johannesburg, 27 Jun 2024
Warren Gordon, Business Unit Manager at Duxbury Networking.
Warren Gordon, Business Unit Manager at Duxbury Networking.

The network infrastructure ecosystem has grown in complexity since the normalisation of hybrid work. A distributed workforce has put pressure on security and technology teams to rethink how to safeguard company data and systems from compromise. This is where a security service edge (SSE) platform that provides universal secure access, visibility and control to all business applications has become groundbreaking.

Think of SSE as the means to effectively integrate zero trust network access (ZTNA) for private apps, secure web gateway (SWG) for internet access and cloud access security broker (CASB) for software as a service (SaaS) solutions.

Soon, companies may not even have a choice. In May, the Norwegian National Cyber Security Centre recommended replacing traditional SSL VPN solutions with alternatives due to "the repeated exploitation of related vulnerabilities in edge network devices to breach corporate networks". By their nature, SSL VPNs enable users to access restricted network resources remotely. However, user credentials are checked once and then the user is allowed on the network, regardless of whether their device has subsequently been compromised.

Addressing organisational priorities

The reality is that increased mobility, cloud adoption and device spread have increased exposure to dangerous cyber threats. Businesses have three priorities that must be addressed in this regard.

Firstly, employees must remain productive regardless of their geographic location. As users access applications across data centres or the cloud, on various devices and networks, maintaining continued access to essential resources within the distributed environment becomes vital.

Secondly, there has been a significant shift towards a zero trust strategy. However, companies still need to balance user demands for a better experience without compromising their security stance.

Another priority is on increasing visibility into user and application traffic, especially within a hybrid environment. Traditional secure networking solutions often lack visibility due to mobile users and extended app locations. But beyond having sight of network traffic, decision-makers also need to get actionable insights that help them proactively address security gaps and hidden risks.

Securing the distributed business

It stands to reason that using network perimeter-based access solutions makes less sense in a distributed work environment. The ideal solution to replace insecure SSL VPNs is SSE. Such a platform focuses on protecting the connections between users and business resources.

This means that every employee has fast, secure and reliable access to all business resources using any device and over any network. For companies who have already made significant investments in the cloud, this is a significant advantage. Using SSE, they can further optimise their cloud environments while still scaling deployments and optimising costs.

Additionally, the user experience can also be improved to further enhance productivity. With SSE in place, companies can gain deeper insights into how employees access the network, the cloud and apps for work. This makes it easier for technical teams to pinpoint performance issues and speed up troubleshooting.

Ultimately, SSE can help companies to protect business data. This is vital to secure the organisation from ransomware and malware attacks. Because SSE operates on a zero trust basis, the business has peace of mind that its security protocols enforce least-privileged access to business data, inspect all traffic and reduce the exposed attack surface.

Making the change

One of the challenges when it comes to migrating to an SSE environment is getting buy-in from the business. This highlights the organisational and cultural challenges of aligning multiple stakeholders, specifically from security and networking teams, around adopting new security technologies.

The cost-effectiveness of implementing SSE solutions can also not be ignored especially when it comes to the financial implications of potential security breaches. Some companies might just be resistant to making too much change at one time and want to take a more measured approach to reinvigorating their security ecosystem.

Of course, the benefits of going the SSE route more than make up for the cultural challenges and pricing concerns. SSE brings with it an enhanced user experience at the edge. This underscores the importance of maintaining a seamless employee experience, especially in environments where edge computing plays a critical role.

There is also the zero trust component that SSE brings, which reflects a broader shift towards more secure access control frameworks within companies. Simplified IT management through consolidation of tools is another benefit to reinforce the advantages that flexible and scalable security solutions can provide over existing legacy tools.

In today’s distributed work environment, an effective SSE implementation is vital to improve a company’s cyber security defences. It is no longer a case of whether a business should employ such an approach, but rather, how quickly it can do so.

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Editorial contacts

Karien Wood
Duxbury Networking
(+27) 011 351 9800
kwood@duxnet.co.za