How SASE combats 5 key cyber security threats

Cybersecurity threats and attacks are a universal fear among organizations, both large and small. Learn about the different kinds of threats your business could experience and how SASE is changing the narrative as a powerful cybersecurity solution.


8 minute read time

Two years is a long time in the business world. As a pandemic took center stage, how and where people work shifted to a mobility-first model to better connect and secure organizations’ offices, users and resources. In fact, an IDG study found that 92% of enterprise businesses now house their IT environments—including their infrastructure, applications and data analytics—in the cloud.1

While workplace flexibility provides new opportunities for organizations and their employees, it also heightens security risks with remote workers logging on from home on a mixed bag of personal and company devices. Case in point: Cyber threats have increased and 86% of organizations expect to be impacted by a cyberattack within a year.2

What is SASE?

There is hope for organizations that are concerned about the 5 most common cyber threats they’re likely to encounter.

A layered, interwoven fabric of network and security technologies called Secure Access Service Edge—SASE, for short—is a powerful recent development that incorporates SD-WAN with a comprehensive, edge-to-edge network security model.

The 5 major components of SASE, including software-defined WAN (SD-WAN), Cloud Access Security Broker (CASB), Firewall as a Service (FWaaS), Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA), and Secure Web Gateway (SWG), create a secure environment that runs over the widely used public Internet.

It is a particularly effective way to prevent ransomware and malware from accessing industry networks.

How does the SASE security model work?

SASE eliminates malicious malware from entering the network and spreading across organizations’ cloud and on-premises applications by blocking threats in real time as they are uploaded to applications or downloaded to devices. It can even go a step further by blocking threats if and when an innocent user attempts to click on a malicious link.

SASE leverages SD-WAN as its foundation to provide optimized application performance, network routing, global connectivity, WAN and Internet security, cloud acceleration and remote access.

The 5 types of cybersecurity threats SASE combatsrchitecture look like?

SASE’s security components work in concert to protect the enterprise network from a variety of threats. With the elastic nature of SASE Gateways and large compute power, SASE ensures traffic automatically routes to the nearest available Gateways. SASE inspects any traffic mix (encrypted and unencrypted) and ensures capacity is available to provide subscribed services.

Customers are relieved of the ongoing grunt work of keeping their network security up-to-date against emerging threats and evolving business needs without the need to size, upgrade, patch or refresh appliances.

Here’s how SASE addresses the key threats enterprises face every day.

1. Phishing & Spear-Phishing

Phishing is a hacking technique that is the digital equivalent of “casting a net.” Specifically, phishing involves sending emails that are designed to lure a user into clicking on a URL. This URL leads to a web form on a landing page that impersonates a known brand, such as Microsoft. The web form is designed to harvest personal information like login credentials. Common phishing emails might include language such as, “Your account is locked,” “Please update your password,” or “Please update your bank account information.”

Similarly, a spear-phishing attacker is after something in particular. A common spear-phishing scheme involves a business email compromise. In this type of con, a cybercriminal poses as a senior employee who has the authority to request wire transfers (to fraudulent companies), direct deposit changes, or W2 income and tax information.

To connect with employees in a convincing way, the attacker may engage in social engineering to impersonate colleagues or business acquaintances. The attacker can accomplish this by researching employees on the Internet, mining their social media accounts for personal details, such as favorite sports teams, friends, or current projects, or acquiring information from data breaches using peer-to-peer (P2P) protocols like BitTorrent.

How SASE combats phishing and spear-phishing

SASE provides a single pane of glass for network and security functionalities to robustly triangulate network anomalies and security vulnerabilities by providing a plethora of telemetry for pre and post inspection.

Specifically, SASE inspects all access to websites for malicious domains (phishing and malware delivery sites) and WAN and Internet traffic for dangerous files embedded within attachments or suspicious hyperlinks. Blackhat attackers will often use domains that are off by a single character, causing employees to easily be tricked into divulging or sending information, or even transferring money to this malicious domain.

2. Ransomware

Ransomware is malware that is designed to deny a user or organization access to files on their network. By encrypting the files and demanding a ransom payment for the decryption key, hackers place organizations in a position where paying the ransom is the easiest and cheapest way to regain access to their files. According to Cybercrime Magazine, the global cost of ransomware damages will exceed $20 billion in 2021 and $265 billion by 2031.3

How SASE combats ransomware

SASE leverages threat intelligence feeds from open-source, shared communities, and commercial providers. In addition, after finding that 30% of feeds contain false positives or miss IoCs,4 SASE uses ML (machine learning) and AI (artificial intelligence ) to aggregate records and score them. These global signature-based and machine-learning repositories can be leveraged for zero-day attacks.

Leveraging machine learning, a SASE advanced anti-malware solution defends against unknown threats and zero-day attacks. It is particularly useful against polymorphic malware designed to evade signature-based inspection engines. SASE can easily and robustly build a blacklist of known offenders from Internet sources to block on demand.

3. DDoS

A DDoS attack stands for “Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) Attack.” It involves the hacker flooding an organization’s server with Internet traffic to prevent users from accessing connected online services and sites.

How SASE combats DDoS attacks

The DDoS protection market was valued at USD 1.04 billion in 2017. It is expected to reach USD 3.96 billion by 2023 at a CAGR of 20.31% during the forecast period (2018 – 2023).5 Available on the dark web, DDoSaaS can be deployed very easily by any bad actor to subscribe and implement hundreds of Gbps DDoS attacks for a very affordable price. This has caused it to be unaffordable to mitigate a DDoS attack on-premises because of insufficient bandwidth.

The business risk does not outweigh the need for a 100Gbps WAN circuit, which is required to ensure sufficient bandwidth is available to mitigate a DDoS attack within a local branch location. SASE can mitigate these DDoS attacks more efficiently due to the extensive GATEWAYS that are globally positioned and sufficient amounts of bandwidth in the core.

4. Third-party software

Third-party software can provide quick access to software for companies to do business. However, it can also potentially lead to network intrusion and vulnerabilities that the company can’t necessarily mitigate due to a lack of visibility into that software or up-to-date signature for that specific malware that could maliciously be included in third-party software.

How SASE combats third-party software

Networks have evolved with the rise of third-party software. Yet traditional security appliances were not designed to secure cloud infrastructure and applications. Once again, IT is required to deploy additional point solutions: CASB for governing cloud applications access and avoiding shadow IT and virtual NGFWs for security. SASE performs Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) on all traffic for indicators of compromised or malicious patterns. Protocol validation, known CVEs (Common Vulnerabilities & Exposures), flagged domains, IPs, and advanced behavioral analysis are seamlessly performed in the cloud.

5. Cloud computing vulnerabilities

Moving business operations to a cloud-based network is a huge trend for enterprises, but it can increase vulnerabilities when done incorrectly. Insecure cloud storage can result in attackers gaining access to data stored in the cloud and stealing confidential information. Additionally, shadow IT practices in large organizations with fragmented applications and IT infrastructure can work at cross-purposes with overall corporate IT governance.

How SASE combats cloud computing vulnerabilities

Unlike a traditional hub-and-spoke network, a cloud-based network doesn’t have a single perimeter. It has three: the cloud service edge, the branch edge and the end-user edge. SASE components address potential threats to all of these edges, with ZTNA securing the end-user, SWG and FWaaS covering the branch, and CASB monitoring and regulating the cloud. Cloud DLP (data loss prevention), as a component of FWaaS, allows consistent discovery, monitoring, governance and security of an organization’s sensitive data regardless of its location as well as everywhere it resides and moves, both on-premises and in the cloud. By utilizing the cloud, a next-generation DLP solution provides simplified implementation, unified data policies and quick remediation actions.

6 key benefits of SASE

SASE provides an easy and scalable way to provide applications with increased security and bandwidth allocation. Organizations that use SASE can see these benefits.

1. Enterprise-level security

Allows users to access apps and data over any connection type with peace of mind that security is in place.

2. Centralized operations

Put policy management in the cloud and distribute enforcement points close to the user, app or device through a “single pane of glass” portal.

3. Device consolidation

Reduce the amount of single-purpose customer premises equipment (CPE) at a branch to a single agent or SD-WAN device to reduce cost and complexity.

4. Zero Trust Network Access

Ensure encrypted connections and base network access on the identity of the user, device or application to enable a secure work-from-anywhere model.

5. Improved performance

Leverage multiple access connections to improve resiliency and performance for critical applications—including latency-sensitive apps.

6. Lower operational overhead

Let SASE providers fully manage, monitor and maintain security software and devices, so IT doesn’t need to constantly update, patch, upgrade and replace appliances.

Let us help with your SASE deployment

Windstream Enterprise has partnered with SASE Networks, the industry-leading SASE technology vendor, to deliver the first and only fully integrated SASE solution available. This cloud-native architecture enables businesses to adapt to constantly shifting users, applications and work environments while keeping all application and security policies synchronized with these changing endpoints—all from a single pane of glass.

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