Staying Safe in Times of Cyber Uncertainty

What is Security Service Edge (SSE)?

Security Service Edge (SSE), a term coined by Gartner in 2021, describes the convergence of key security capabilities into a single, cloud-based solution. SSE improves security efficiency and management and better meets the security needs of companies that are increasingly adopting remote and hybrid work, as well as cloud and SaaS services.

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What is Security Service Edge (SSE)?

What Are The Main Components Of SSE?

Security Service Edge is designed to converge network security into a single, cloud-based solution. The primary components of SSE include:

  • Zero-Trust Network Access (ZTNA): ZTNA provides a superior alternative to virtual private networks (VPNs) for secure remote access to corporate resources. ZTNA enables organizations to implement granular, in-app zero trust security for remote access to corporate applications residing on on-premises or in the cloud (e.g. internal web apps, wikis, databases, remote desktops and servers, SSH terminals and cloud production environments).
  • Secure Web Gateway (SWG): SWGs are designed to protect employees from internet and web-based threats, including phishing sites, malware and ransomware infection points and command and control (C2) bot clients. An SWG monitors and filters web traffic to enforce corporate security policies, block access to known-bad sites, and block malicious files from reaching the user’s system. Key capabilities of an SWG are access control, data protection and threat prevention.
  • Firewall as a Service (FWaaS): A firewall is the cornerstone of a corporate network security policy, enabling an organization to restrict network access and block malicious files from entering the network. FWaaS offerings provide firewall functionality under a service-based model, offering greater flexibility and scalability than appliance-based solutions. In the context of SSE, FWaaS refers to securing branch offices, data centers and remote sites using cloud-based network security. FWaaS integrates with SD-WAN solutions to enforce consistent security across numerous sites and branch offices in an automated fashion.
  • Cloud Access Security Broker (CASB): As companies become more dependent on a range of Software as a Service (SaaS) applications, they need solutions that enforce corporate security policies and access controls across cloud services. CASB solutions help manage access and protect data accessed in SaaS applications, with capabilities that include authentication, single sign-on, authorization, encryption, monitoring and threat prevention, among others.

Why Is SSE Important?

As employees and data are increasingly located outside the office, SSE helps consolidate and streamline  security functions into a single, globally-available cloud-based solution. Some of the major security challenges that SSE addresses include:

  • Dissolving Perimeters: Historically, security models were perimeter-focused. These models were based on the assumption that corporate resources were deployed in the corporate datacenter and that securing the connection between the corporate network and the public Internet secured the enterprise. As the traditional perimeter dissolves with the adoption of cloud infrastructure, SaaS, remote work, mobile devices, and the Internet of Things (IoT), traditional centralized security models no longer work. SSE enables companies to deploy security closer to where the user and data is located, with inspection engines delivered from a global network of cloud points of presence (PoPs).
  • Security Complexity: As IT infrastructures grow more complex and companies face an evolving threat landscape, many organizations have deployed an array of standalone security solutions to address various threats. As a result, security architectures are hard to monitor and manage, making it easier for cyberattacks to slip through the cracks. SSE consolidates security functionality into a single, integrated solution managed with unified policies, where data is decrypted, inspected and decrypted in a single cloud-delivered security stack, reducing the need for a complex array of standalone security tools.
  • Network Performance: Attempting to secure distributed infrastructure with perimeter-based solutions results in inefficient network routing, latency and a poor user experience, where all traffic is backhauled to a central physical location for the purpose of security inspection by an enterprise security stack. SSE eliminates the need for these inefficient routes by deploying security near the users and resources that need it, allowing traffic to be more efficiently routed to its destination.
  • Operational Efficiency:  Security Service Edge consolidates security functionality into a single, integrated, and cloud-based solution. This makes it easier for security teams to deploy, configure, monitor, and manage security solutions, improving efficiency and reducing operational overhead. Day-to-day operations such as creating backups and ensuring high availability and redundancy are offloaded to a cloud security vendor.

SSE And SASE

The term Security Service Edge is very similar to Secure Access Service Edge (SASE), an older term coined by Gartner. These two concepts are similar, and the introduction of SSE acknowledges that some organizations may not be ready to make the jump directly to SASE.

Like SSE, SASE consolidates security functionality into a single cloud-based solution. However, it also does the same for networking functionality, integrating software-defined WAN (SD-WAN), Quality of Service (QoS), routing, and other features into the same solution. This combination enables an organization to achieve both security and network optimization in a single cloud-based solution.

However, not all companies may be willing to update existing investments in both security and network technology. While the security team may be willing to make the switch, a corporate networking team may remain tied to existing SD-WAN or carrier technology solutions. The SSE category provides a way to describe cloud-based security consolidation without the networking consolidation of SASE.

SSE Deployment With Harmony Connect

Harmony Connect is Check Point’s SASE solution, which offers converged network and security functions within a single solution. With Harmony Connect, a company can optimize its network and security infrastructure to meet evolving business needs and securely support a remote workforce.

Since SSE is a subset of SASE, Harmony Connect provides organizations with all of the tools required to converge their security infrastructure in the cloud. Learn more about how to effectively adopt SASE and what to look for in a SASE solution in this Guide to Adopting Secure Access Service Edge Network Security developed by ESG. You’re also welcome to download the solution brief to learn how Check Point Harmony Connect can meet your organization’s evolving security needs.

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