The protection of identities and access has become a paramount concern in today’s digital landscape. With the increasing digitization of both work and personal lives, cyberattacks have risen in frequency and sophistication, affecting organizations of all sizes and industries worldwide.
In the past 12 months alone, there has been a staggering average of over 4,000 password attacks per second, marking a nearly threefold increase from the 1,287 attacks per second witnessed in the previous year. This alarming surge underscores the escalating threat posed by cybercriminals.
Moreover, these attackers are employing highly sophisticated methods, adept at bypassing crucial defense mechanisms, such as multifactor authentication. These tactics enable them to steal access tokens, assume the identity of legitimate users, and gain unauthorized entry to critical data, exacerbating the risks faced by organizations and individuals alike. Vigilance and robust security measures are essential in this evolving landscape to safeguard against such threats effectively.
In this article, we will delve into the world of Security Service Edge (SSE), exploring its various features and the benefits it brings. Furthermore, we will take a deeper look at Microsoft’s offering.
What is SSE?
SSE, which stands for Security Service Edge, is a comprehensive approach that brings together various network security services to facilitate secure access to cloud services, web applications, and private applications. This innovative concept integrates essential security elements, such as Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA), Secure Web Gateway (SWG), Cloud Access Security Broker (CASB) and Firewall-as-a-Service (FWaaS) solutions.
Zero-Trust Network Access (ZTNA)
Departing from conventional security practices, a Zero-Trust environment adopts a more cautious approach. Rather than implicitly trusting authenticated users, this system treats each access request as potentially originating from a malicious actor. By rigorously verifying and authorizing every attempt to access network resources, ZTNA significantly reduces the attack surface and enhances overall security.
Secure Web Gateway (SWG)
The Secure Web Gateway plays a pivotal role in safeguarding network traffic between users and the internet. Through meticulous inspection, it grants or denies communication based on predefined administrator configurations. This proactive filtering ensures that potential threats are intercepted, preventing unauthorized access and data breaches.
Cloud Access Security Broker (CASB)
To maintain a uniform and stringent security posture across network resources, the Cloud Access Security Broker (CASB) comes into play. This indispensable component enforces robust authorization and authentication policies, guaranteeing that all interactions with cloud-based services comply with the organization’s security standards.
To protect sensitive data and regulate access to various network segments, Firewall-as-a-Service (FWaaS) offers an innovative cloud-based firewall deployment. This service leverages cutting-edge technology to establish a secure perimeter around network assets, filtering and monitoring traffic to ensure optimal security.
For businesses seeking to optimize their cloud-based infrastructure, SSE plays a crucial role in ensuring they can harness the full potential of cloud services while effectively mitigating exposure to potential threats. By adopting SSE, organizations can confidently safeguard their digital assets and enjoy a safer and more efficient online experience for their users.
What are the benefits of SSE?
A robust Security Service Edge, (SSE) solution brings several advantages to an organization, enhancing their overall security and operational efficiency:
- Consistent Security and Protection: SSE ensures a consistent and accurate level of security and protection, regardless of where employees work. Whether they are in the office or remote locations, the same robust security measures are applied uniformly.
- Reduced Complexity: Implementing SSE reduces the complexity of managing multiple security services and platforms. By consolidating various services into a single platform, organizations can streamline their security operations, leading to a simplified and more efficient environment.
- Improved User Experience: SSE contributes to an enhanced user experience by providing increased performance and seamless access to applications. With the elimination of traditional VPN services, users can enjoy a smoother and more responsive connection to the resources they need.
- Unified Functionality and Strategy: By integrating security functionality with an overarching strategy, SSE enables more effective defense of the network. Traditional VPNs can sometimes slow down network performance, but SSE’s unified approach ensures security without compromising on network speed.
- Increased Flexibility: SSE offers greater flexibility, allowing organizations to adapt to changing security needs in real-time. It can scale up or down as required, accommodating varying levels of demand while maintaining robust protection.
- Cost Reduction: By consolidating multiple services into a single platform, SSE can lead to cost savings for organizations. It eliminates the need for redundant or unnecessary security services, reducing overall operational expenses.
- Early Value and Advanced Protection: SSE’s integration of various services from the outset results in early value for organizations. With capabilities like Zero-Trust Network Access (ZTNA), VPNs can be replaced, offering advanced protection and secure access to applications.
What is the difference between SASE and SSE?
Security Service Edge (SSE) is a distinct subset of Secure Access Service Edge (SASE), concentrating solely on cloud security services. Its core purpose is to provide secure access to the internet by employing a protected web gateway, ensuring the safety of Software as a Service (SaaS) and cloud applications through a Cloud Access Security Broker (CASB), and securing remote access to private applications via Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA).
On the other hand, SASE encompasses all these SSE components while also extending its capabilities to include additional features. In addition to the cloud security services provided by SSE, SASE incorporates Software-Defined Wide Area Networking (SD-WAN), WAN optimization, and quality of service (QoS) elements. This broader approach allows SASE to not only deliver cloud security but also optimize network performance, enhance connectivity, and ensure efficient data flow across the entire enterprise network.
In summary, SSE focuses exclusively on cloud security services, while SASE goes beyond by incorporating a comprehensive range of functionalities, making it a more holistic and versatile solution for modern enterprises seeking both security and networking benefits.
What about the Microsoft products?
Microsoft has officially entered the security services edge (SSE) market by unveiling its latest additions to the Entra suite: Microsoft Entra Internet Access and Microsoft Entra Private Access, making a significant step forward in the realm of security services edge, expanding their portfolio to better cater to modern security needs.
This new solution has two key components – Entra Internet Access and Entra Private Access, which effectively manage and safeguard access to cloud-based resources. When combined with Microsoft’s established SaaS-focused cloud-access security broker (CASB) named Microsoft Defender for Cloud apps, these two additions form Microsoft’s comprehensive SSE package. With this suite, users can confidently control and secure their interactions with cloud services, ensuring a robust and protected digital environment.
Microsoft Entra Internet Access
Designed as an identity-centric Secure Web Gateway (SWG), Entra Internet Access focuses on safeguarding SaaS apps and internet traffic. By effectively detecting and blocking vulnerable, non-compliant, and malicious traffic from open internet channels, this product ensures a secure online environment.
Leveraging Conditional Access based on network conditions, Internet Access can prevent unauthorized access, requiring users to connect via a ‘compliant network’ to access resources. The solution offers the highest level of security and visibility for Microsoft 365 users, providing fast and reliable access to 365 apps from any location.
Currently in public preview, Entra Internet Access serves as a platform to boost productivity for remote and hybrid workforces without compromising on security measures.
Microsoft Entra Private Access
With a focus on simplicity, speed, and top-notch security, Microsoft Entra Private Access is a Zero Trust Network Access solution that empowers users to access private apps and resources seamlessly. Regardless of their location, whether in private networks, data centers, or hybrid and multi-cloud environments, Entra Private Access facilitates smooth connections to essential resources.
This solution promises to streamline operations and enhance cost-efficiency compared to traditional VPN-based private access methods. Users can apply Conditional Access to individual applications, reinforcing security measures with multi-factor authentication (MFA), device compliance, and other robust controls. This approach ensures state-of-the-art protection against modern threats, ensuring users can work with confidence and peace of mind.
The solution is currently in the public preview stage for Microsoft 365 scenarios and Windows clients. In this phase, it provides support for general traffic, cloud firewall, and threat protection. Later this year, Microsoft plans to extend its compatibility to include other operating systems, further enhancing its capabilities and reach.
How Softlanding can help?
Microsoft Entra offers a broad range of security features and capabilities, enabling you to proactively protect your people and sensitive data from cyberattacks, data breaches, and other malicious activities. Whether it’s safeguarding user identities and access privileges, securing cloud-based resources, or defending against sophisticated malware, Microsoft Entra covers a broad spectrum of security needs.
As a Microsoft Solutions partner, Softlanding’s team of seasoned experts can help you protect your people and your data. If you want to find out more about Microsoft Entra, please reach out to us.