SASE Explained: How It Works and Why It Matters

Digital transformation and remote work have increased the demand for secure access to network resources. SASE enables this need by merging networking and security services into a single cloud-based service. This reduces the number of third-party services that must be purchased, monitored, and maintained. And it enables enterprise IT staff to spend less time on repetitive chores and more on strategic needs.

Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA)

Zero Trust Network Access is a way to control the way users access applications. This means that a user is only granted access to an application after it has been authenticated and deemed secure by the SASE framework. This eliminates unauthorized lateral movement across the network. It also enables contractors, freelancers, and employees to work securely. What is SASE? SASE is a security architecture that uses identity and context to validate network access. It uses a series of questions to verify a user’s authenticity, including: what device is the request coming from? What is the user’s current location? What time of day is it? The most critical aspect of implementing SASE is to ensure collaboration between the network and security teams. Since SASE integrates many networking and security functions into one platform, any issues can significantly impact end-user experience. A unified SASE solution can avoid this by combining advanced SD-WAN with cloud-delivered security services like ZTNA, SWG, and CASB in a single stack. This allows organizations to reduce complexity and risk while ensuring consistent policy controls.

Context-Based Access Control (CBAC)

The emergence of digital transformation, remote working, and cybersecurity risks has created an urgent need for an all-encompassing network security tool. Existing technologies and architectures must find a way to meet the demands of the modern organization. The SASE approach offers a solution. With SASE, security is shifted to the network’s edge rather than the company’s servers. The architecture uses a cloud-delivered SD-WAN service that integrates networking capabilities with network security services, including SWGs and CASBs, to enable a Zero Trust security model for secure, optimized access to applications and data. In addition to analyzing the device and location, leading SASE solutions also perform full content inspection of TCP and UDP traffic and analyze network packets for signs of anomalies and a wide range of attacks such as man-in-the-middle interceptions, spoofing, and malicious traffic. This ensures that all data is encrypted and inspected before leaving the local network, protecting against privacy breaches. This approach also reduces complexity, minimizing the number of security tools an IT team needs to manage and update, consolidating them into a single integrated network security platform.

Points of Presence (PoPs)

With employees now working remotely, organizations need secure and uninterrupted access to data and applications. Existing network approaches can’t deliver on these needs. SASE architecture flips the security model and moves protection close to users and their devices. It uses the concept of edge computing to process information close to where it’s needed. Security is applied at the edge, using security policies based on identity and context to allow or deny connections to applications and services dynamically. This approach reduces overall network complexity and enables higher performance. It eliminates the need for complex and expensive Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) lines or other network infrastructure. It also cuts costs by shifting up-front capital expenditure to monthly subscription fees and delegating maintenance, hardware upgrades, and software refreshes to the SASE service provider. And it delivers faster, optimized network performance and lower latency for remote workers than relying on VPN tunnels alone.

Security Policy Enforcement

Digital organizations need a better way to secure their networks. Current network approaches, and technologies must offer the security and access control levels required by modern enterprises embracing digital transformation. SASE enables businesses to meet these needs through a single, scalable architecture that combines networking and security capabilities into one framework. This unified network infrastructure delivers better performance and provides the visibility needed to optimize and secure user connections to cloud-based applications. Unlike traditional networks, which require VPN tunnels or proxies to connect remote users to company assets, SASE eliminates those steps. It verifies a request’s authenticity by evaluating the identity of the device and user, along with real-time context.

Additionally, SASE enables enterprises to set and update security policies from a single interface instead of dealing with a complex collection of point solutions. This simplifies implementation and management, which frees IT teams from spending more time and resources on other critical business priorities. To learn more about how SASE works and how it can help secure your network, visit our Cloudflare One product page.

Traffic Inspection

Unlike traditional network architecture, where application traffic must be backhauled to the corporate system for security inspection, SASE eliminates this step. Instead, this network architecture directs internet-destined traffic to the nearest point of presence (PoP), where advanced security tools can scan the data for threats. This approach also reduces WAN latency and improves performance, making it an ideal solution for remote users during the Covid-19 pandemic and for organizations seeking to accelerate digital transformation. Using the secure access service edge model, networking and numerous security capabilities can be managed from one solution delivered via the cloud and a global network of PoPs. This allows businesses to integrate branch FWaaS, ZTNA, CASB, and DLP into their SASE framework, reducing complexity and cost and improving performance. SASE is a powerful network security tool that provides the security that digital organizations need to protect their data and applications. With more and more workers leveraging remote work, cloud applications, and SaaS, it’s critical to have advanced security tools to provide immediate, uninterrupted access. This is why SASE has become essential to transforming WAN and security architectures.


James Vines

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