Zero Trust

How CISOs gain an edge with security service edge (SSE)

Jan 07, 2022

As anticipation brews for the upcoming publication (XLS calendar download) of the Gartner Magic Quadrant and the Critical Capabilities report for security service edge (SSE), it will be all eyes on the security service access edge (SASE) offshoot. 

In brief, SSE is a framework that can help you secure your organization's IT infrastructure in a remarkably comprehensive way by providing and integrating key features, including threat protection, security monitoring, identity management controls, and data security. To achieve this, most SSEs incorporate SASE tech such as a secure web gateway (SWG), cloud access security broker (CASB), zero trust network access (ZTNA), firewall as a service (FWaaS), browser isolation, and end-to-end encryption/decryption. And because it's delivered as a unified cloud service over the internet, SSE includes key cloud strengths: utility billing, scalable performance, and convenience of implementation.

Tech leaders like CISOs who seek better insight into the advantages and benefits of the approach have many pillars to make a business case, including:

Superior protection of core business functions

SSE delivers broader, deeper, and more comprehensive IT security. Because dedicated specialists at the SSE provider now handle the most critical security functions, overall service uptime improves because the security technology is continually current. Core business tasks generate more revenue and meet customer demand instead of going offline for planned or unplanned maintenance such as security patch installation or breach mitigation. The overall customer experience improves as does the organization's PR, bottom line, and market share.

Simplified implementation and optimization of security best practices

Zero Trust Architecture (ZTA) and related capabilities don't require expertise from an in-house IT team to roll out, debug, and perfect. Instead, the SSE provider handles such matters automatically, taking care of security certificate provisioning, machine authentication, validation, or data sensitivity assessment, and so on. The SSE provider has the best available tech and mastery of the subject matter and does most of the work, while the client receives all the benefits that security best practices deliver.

Reduced management complexity

Picture a traditional in-house security infrastructure handled by a local team. In such a scenario, the team must manage various solutions from a large and growing number of vendors, each with a different console interface and feature set, and at best, somewhat limited cross-solution integration. Consequently, IT is constantly struggling to respond swiftly and effectively to emerging security challenges of all kinds. Even determining whether a breach is really a breach, or is instead a false positive, can be slow and awkward — and every minute that passes during an actual breach exposes more sensitive data and amplifies the eventual business impact. In contrast, SSE providers are responsible for security solution implementation and integration – removing such matters, for the most part, from the in-house team's To-Do list. What's more, an SSE architecture can reduce the total console count for the in-house team to track and correlate. Defining, creating, and managing security policies as required to support business strategies becomes much easier and faster. And in the unlikely event that a breach was to occur, it's much faster than it used to be to verify and respond appropriately.

Greater business flexibility

In business, the only constant is change. Organizations are constantly adjusting their infrastructures, facilities, services, and workforces (a good example being the overwhelming shift to remote work in the era of COVID-19). An SSE empowers organizations to make all such adjustments much more quickly, flexibly, and securely than ever before because it will support virtually all logical combinations. Whether business services are delivered in-house or via the cloud, whether those clouds are private or public, whether workers work onsite, remotely, or in a hybrid fashion — such considerations no longer matter from a security standpoint because SSE capabilities cover them all. The organization can adapt its infrastructure, processes, or team as required by shifting circumstances, without concern for diminished security and higher exposure to risk.

Improved user experience and competitive advantage

Rolling out new business services to match competitors or align with changing customer expectations is also substantially faster and easier than it used to be. Because the SSE handles the bulk of all security ramifications, the organization is free to focus on its own charter: understanding what its clients and customers need and want, creating and providing the closest possible approximation of that, and then augmenting it over time with new features or capabilities to reflect customer needs or interests. This accelerated response helps keep the organization more current than less agile competitors and ultimately leads to improved market share.

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