Remote workers today can collaborate and communicate effectively using the same tools and resources as their in-office counterparts. The remote work trend, fueled by the pandemic, would not have been possible without the ubiquitousness of the cloud. This vital technology empowers firms to retain their business continuity amid disruption. At the same time, the security issues posed by the cloud have emerged as an area of concern.
Gartner's introduction of Secure Service Edge (SSE) in late 2021 marked the emergence of a new cybersecurity concept that goes beyond cloud security. SSE is a holistic security framework covering a broad range of security concerns, including but not limited to cloud and data security. It provides cost-effective, compliant, and regulated security solutions that help organizations protect their critical assets, from devices to networks, applications, and data centers.
While SSE is particularly useful in securing cloud data in storage and transit, its benefits extend far beyond the cloud. SSE simplifies security architecture across multiple-point solutions, making it easier for organizations to manage and secure their digital assets while reducing the complexity of their security infrastructure. It also simplifies management and enables enterprises to securely access internal applications, the Internet, and SaaS apps.
As per Gartner's Top Eight Cybersecurity Trend Predictions for 2022-231, the SSE adoption curve will only increase. This estimate is in keeping with the projected increase of the SASE market, which is expected to reach USD 4,874.75 million in 2023.2 It is also anticipated that by 2025, 8 out of 10 enterprises will unify web, cloud services, and remote resource access on a single vendor's SSE platform.
SSE minimizes inconsistencies, simplifies security architecture modifications, and centralizes security policy and configuration updates. As a result, it will improve cybersecurity, management, and hybrid organizational demands within three to five years.
Many firms today also struggle with multiple security products, leading to product sprawl. By consolidating security infrastructure management and deploying standard rules and configurations across the network, SSE ensures that IT staff are handling fewer UIs. This is significant, as 24% of cybersecurity professionals ranked management complexity across multiple UIs as their second most difficult challenge in the 2023 Security Service Edge (SSE) Adoption Report.
Here are a few more reasons that SSE will continue to be relevant in 2023 and beyond.
The remote work trend
While the hurdles of abruptly transitioning to a new work environment were earth-shattering during the pandemic, with the appropriate policies and technology, enterprises are seeing the benefits of remote working. The hybrid model has thrived due to a shift in mindset. According to the State of IT Annual Report, 35% of firms wanted to boost their IT budget and support remote employees in 2023. Clearly, eliminating the remote work model is not yet on the table.
By imposing security policies using cloud-centric strategies, SSE technologies have greatly assisted employees. It also combines numerous security capabilities into a single offering and provides an immediate opportunity to reduce complexity and improve the user experience. SSE enables access control, data security, threat defense, security monitoring, acceptable web service use assurance, and API-based integration for enhanced protection.
Increased focus on cloud computing
A company's success is determined by its ability to provide a better user experience, such as reliable, high-performance network access. The cloud technology utilized in SSE eliminates the bottleneck (backhauling) phenomenon that slows down physical data centers. It also protects endpoint devices from cyber threats and prevents hackers from accessing the private network via compromised user devices.
By bringing security closer to customers and data, SSE enables more efficient traffic routing. This is significant because as remote work makes its presence felt, reliance on SaaS applications will continue to be high, leading to inefficient network routing, poor latency, and subpar user experiences.
By 2025, more than 85% of enterprises will have adopted a cloud-first strategy. Gartner projects that by 2021, more than 95% of digital workloads will be hosted on cloud-native platforms, a 65% increase from 2021. The relevance of cloud computing and SaaS will grow as cloud-based infrastructures help companies achieve their sustainability goals.
The rise of zero-trust architecture
The zero-trust architecture, emphasizing uncompromised identity verification, will play a critical role in cybersecurity. Gartner estimates that by 2025, 60% of companies will perceive the model as a part of fundamental security, and thus, there will be a growing shift toward adopting the zero-trust model.
For 70% of organizations, instead of deploying VPN services, ZTNA will be the preferred remote access technology. A major prerequisite for deploying SSE will be securing access to internal applications housed in the cloud or data center via ZTNA technology.
The dissolution of perimeters
Due to cloud services, remote work, and the Internet of Things (IoT), traditional cybersecurity protections like firewalls and secure networks have faltered. These boundaries will blur or disappear as firms use SaaS apps and remote and hybrid work arrangements.
To maintain secure perimeters, organizations must identify the specific assets they need to protect and deploy appropriate defenses. By adopting SSE, organizations can deploy security tools near where users and data reside and coordinate delivery through a global network of cloud-based points of presence.
Using software-defined security solutions, SSE brings security protection closer to the user. By adopting SSE, organizations can respond to the dissolution of perimeters and maintain a high level of security, even in a more distributed and dynamic IT landscape.
Varying levels of entry
The increasingly distributed workforce supplies hackers with various entry points. Contractors pose the greatest threat, followed by internal employees. While implementing a zero-trust policy is desirable, it's important to note that external users need to access internal business resources, and providing access could prove unavoidable. Ensuring user productivity and visibility into user and application traffic is also necessary.
SSE addresses various points of entry for hackers by implementing a multi-layer security approach to protect the network’s edge. It uses multiple technologies, including virtual firewalls, encryption, access control, and threat detection and response.
The need for a unified interface
SSE helps overcome a second security difficulty associated with remote/hybrid work: managing different standalone security solutions. For example, organizations may utilize additional tools to encrypt and decrypt data transmitted by remote employees.
SSE consolidates all security settings and enables effective management via a unified, user-friendly interface. This integrated interface provides a streamlined and convenient user experience and allows them to manage security effectively without navigating multiple tools or systems.
Building better operational efficiencies
SSE platforms provide a centralized, unified, and streamlined approach to security, making them ideal for realizing better operational efficiencies. By consolidating multiple security functions into one platform, SSE helps companies streamline their security processes, reduce operational overhead, and minimize human errors.
Over time, this reduces the overall cost of security operations. In addition, the user-friendly interface helps security teams swiftly identify and respond to possible risks, freeing time and resources for other vital duties.
Digital transformation and the public cloud movement have affected businesses. Currently, many organizations are still enabling remote work through network-centric access tools. However, granting infrastructure-wide access to users will only increase the likelihood that insiders or compromised accounts will move laterally across the organization.
For data to remain protected, the security concept will have to evolve. Rather than providing all-or-nothing access, security should evolve into a gradient based on complete knowledge of endpoints, users, apps, and data.
Ultimately, we must understand that the cloud-first, work-from-anywhere world is here to stay. Organizations that invest in the required technologies and frameworks, such as SSE and SASE, can safeguard data from anywhere.