October 28, 2021 | Mike Frane

Fighting crime online: Keep your network safe with SASE

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Mike Frane, VP of Product Management

Mike Frane

Mike is responsible for the company’s overall SD-WAN strategy, as well as the network and security service portfolios. Since joining WE in 2008, he’s overseen the launch of MPLS IPsec access elements, Secure WiFi & Analytics, Unified Communications and more.
Summary: Between the drive toward digital transformation and the rise in cybercrime, network security is getting complex. Here are four cyber risks that organizations are—or will—face and how a SASE framework will ensure the most protection to your business.

No matter how good your organization’s cyber defenses are, you’ll always carry some risk. A report found that in 2021, more than two-thirds of organizations (69%) were victimized by ransomware.1 With this number continuing to surge, these threats come at the increased risk for a breach and associated financial impacts.

business man using a laptop in an office setting

Network security has become top of mind for many organizations who’ve been forced to change their business models overnight in order to accommodate a remote workforce, leading to an expanded attack surface (a greater number of possible entry points for unauthorized access into the system). And as a result, there’s a growing trend of businesses embracing a SASE framework as a means of dealing with cybersecurity concerns. The reason for this is because a SASE architecture consists of  five major components—Software-Defined Wide Area Network (SD-WAN), Firewall-as-a-Service (FWaaS), Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA), Cloud Access Security Brokers (CASBs) and Secure Web Gateways (SWGs)—all of which embed networking and security capabilities into a single-service, cloud-native model.

In honor of Cybersecurity Awareness Month, we’ll point out four types of cybersecurity risks that organizations are facing (or will face), and which components will offer the most protection for each particular security threat.

Endpoint threats

What is it?

An endpoint is a remote computing device—a laptop, desktop, mobile device, tablet or server—that communicates back and forth with a network to which it’s connected. When talking about endpoint security, we’re referring to cybersecurity services (firewalls and antivirus services) that give system administrators control of security endpoints within and surrounding an organization.

Why is it a threat?

The massive shift to remote work due to the pandemic has generated concern with endpoint security. IT professionals worry about the lack of IT staff or funding to allocate resources that support the spike in remote workers, and firewalls are unable to protect from all angles of cloud applications and devices.

The SASE solution?

Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR) is an emerging integrated security solution that addresses the continuous barrage of attacks that organizations experience by providing continuous monitoring and response to advanced cyberthreats beyond antivirus protection. It defends endpoints from ransomware by blocking or detecting it—to stop the threat from going to other components on your network in real-time.

Remote Access Virtual Private Network (VPN) threats

What is it?

A VPN allows users to securely connect to an organization’s network from an off-premises location using a device that’s connected to the Internet. It’s been key for remote workers to connect from their home networks or a public WiFi network more securely.

Why is it a threat?

Similar to endpoint threats, VPN policies were weakened with the rise in remote work. Once a cybercriminal finds its way into a VPN, they can easily penetrate the rest of the network. VPNs are often encouraged as a more secure way to connect from home or public networks, but many legacy firewalls enable access to practically everything in the network, heightening the risk for attack.

The SASE solution?

ZTNA provides Secure Remote Access (SRA) to an organization’s applications, data and services based on clearly defined access control policies while preventing data loss and cyberthreats. It has the ability to look at user behaviors and will flag anything out of the ordinary. By adding extra layers of authentication, it adds extra layers of security.

Web-based threats

What is it?

Web-based threats are cybersecurity risks that cause an undesirable event or action via the Internet. These types of threats are caused by end-user vulnerabilities, web service developers or web services themselves, and pose a broad range of risks, including financial losses, identity theft, breaches of confidential data and damaged reputations.

Since web threats are typically successful due to human error and technical error, making it difficult to fully eradicate. Today, organizations use firewalls—or FWaaS—to form a protective shield around assets, securing them from untrusted Internet traffic, while also protecting the internal or private network and the on-premises assets.

Why is it a threat?

It was reported that web-based attacks are the costliest types of cyberattacks, and while they are more likely to impact small businesses, an enterprise of any size can be affected. It’s said that more than 18 million websites are infected with malware at a given time each week,2 and this number is only increasing with the upswing in remote and hybrid environments.

The SASE solution?

SWG is a component of SASE that can protect Internet-enabled devices from web threats. SWGs offer protection through a unified platform for complete visibility and precise control over web access while enforcing security policies that shield users from harmful websites. The powerful combination of SWGs and FWaaS helps companies to control web access, provide users with secure connectivity and protect all their traffic, users and applications from hostile websites and content.

Unknown threats

What is it?

An unknown threat is best referred to as a zero-day threat, vulnerability or exploit. This is when hackers take advantage of a software security flaw to perform a cyberattack. And that security flaw is only known to hackers, meaning software developers have no clue of its existence and have no patch ready to fix it.

Why is it a threat?

Zero-day threats are particularly dangerous because the only people who know about them are the attackers themselves. Once a cybercriminal has infiltrated a network, they can either attack immediately or sit and wait for the most advantageous time to strike.

The SASE solution?

Today,  Unified Threat Management (UTM) offers zero-day protection with web content filtering, application control and intrusion prevention by using real-time intelligence to proactively detect, prevent and mitigate malicious traffic from accessing a network. But with a SASE solution in place, protection goes a step further by protecting all locations versus a single site. SWG and FWaaS protect alongside UTM, anti-malware and via sandboxing to quarantine ransomware, while also segmenting the network. ZTNA also does its part to protect at the user level and across applications and corporate networks, while CASB defends cloud apps.

Protecting from present and future threats

As new as the SASE concept is, its use is expected to double annually through 2025, according to the market research firm Dell’Oro Group. Defending your business from cybercriminals asks you to look inward; it requires you to determine what your IT organization is lacking and which SASE components are best suited to bolster your network security from future attacks.

As part of our Managed Network Security services, Windstream Enterprise has a Cyber Security Operations Center (CSOC) team ready to defend customers against unauthorized activity on their networks, including monitoring, detection, analysis, response and restoration activities. This team is primarily made of network security analysts who are experts that will help to prevent network security incidents on a 24/7 basis. Customers can rest assured that next-gen security solutions from Windstream Enterprise will keep their critical data and networks safe from cyberthreats.

References

  1. Cyber Edge Group, “Key Insights from CyberEdge’s 2021 Cyberthreat Defense Report.” April 21, 2021.
  2. Purple Sec, “2021 Cyber Security Statistics.” 2021.

Key takeaway: Anticipating tomorrow’s security needs is challenging. Learn how SASE and managed network services are helping organizations manage, detect and respond to cybersecurity threats.
VP of Product Management

Mike Frane

Mike is responsible for the company’s overall SD-WAN strategy, as well as the network and security service portfolios. Since joining WE in 2008, he’s overseen the launch of MPLS IPsec access elements, Secure WiFi & Analytics, Unified Communications and more.