The Journey to SASE: Cisco Eases Security Complexity – CSO Online


Many organizations have made significant investments in security tools. Unfortunately, there’s often a lack of integration across these technologies, which increases the work of security teams—and risks missed vulnerabilities. In fact, 77% of CISOs said it was challenging to orchestrate alerts between products from multiple security vendors, according to Cisco’s 2020 Cybersecurity Benchmark Study. The pandemic further complicated the CISO’s role with the push to cloud services for a widely distributed workforce.

It’s no wonder that 87% of security leaders think their organizations are falling short in addressing cyber risks, according to the 2020 IDG Security Priorities Study

“To say that security is not an easy profession is an understatement,” says Ben Munroe, Director of Product Marketing at Cisco Security. “There are day-to-day complexities and an urgent need to remediate issues before they become serious problems, as well a constant need for more qualified security professionals.”

CSOs and CISOs know they must radically simplify and streamline security. At the same time, the approach must be comprehensive across the tech stack and include the latest intelligence to deal with an ever-changing threat landscape.

Enterprises are turning to a Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) architecture to help them consolidate the number of vendors and achieve more of their desired outcomes through platforms rather than point products.

The path to SASE

“SASE is a journey based on moving toward achieving your specific strategic business outcomes, whether that’s network transformation, addressing the security skills gap, or building resiliency in light of the pandemic,” Munroe says.

SASE creates a secure “bridge” across access and the edge infrastructure including the cloud, the data center, branch, or wherever the remote user happens to be. SASE is also predicated on the key principles of identity-centric policy to focus on the user and device, and cloud-native deployment, to match the vast swathes of infrastructure that have moved or are moving into a public cloud or hybrid environment.

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No matter where organizations are on their SASE journey, Cisco can help. It is continually innovating its portfolio to ensure simplified security, comprehensive protection, and always-on security intelligence.

For example, Cisco has just announced enhancements to Cisco Umbrella to deepen protection for all users, on any device, from any location. New features include remote browser isolation, which adds a layer of defense from browser-based attacks, and enhanced data loss prevention functionality, which further reduces the risk of sensitive data exfiltration. These are two key concerns with the recent expanded need for secure remote work. To match the SASE vision of a single vendor approach, Cisco has also made it simpler to choose the various components of SASE in a single offer.

“We’re increasing the functionality of our cloud security stack,” Munroe says. “SASE is a two-part story; first it’s about the convergence of security and networking and then it’s about delivering this from the cloud, and we’ve made improvements in both of those areas for our customers.”

The journey to simplified security continues

Cisco is also making it easier for customers to shift toward strong cloud application access policies while alleviating the need for users to maintain passwords for multiple apps and systems. Duo Passwordless, a key stepping stone on the Zero Trust journey and the SASE path, allows users to authenticate with biometrics, for example, to gain secure access to all their SaaS apps. At the same time, it reduces the burden on help desks for all the “password reset” tickets.

In addition, the Cisco SecureX platform—which automates detection and remediation of security threats—has undergone even more innovations. New orchestrated workflows automate key functions such as phishing detection, threat hunting, and investigations into breaches such as SolarWinds. And SecureX simplifies integrations with major third-party security platform partners such as Google, Splunk, ServiceNow, and others, without the need to deploy new code.

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Stayed tuned for more, Munroe says. “We also are introducing a single agent that unifies endpoint management,” he says. “For example, customers will be able to push VPN connectivity and cloud security protection from a simplified endpoint connector.”

All these enhancements have direct value for both IT security teams and the business.

“We’ve got to make it easier for overstretched security teams, at the same time as we aim to delight users rather than adding to their burdens,” Munroe says. “In addition, it’s important to lay a resilient foundation for whatever comes next—allowing the business to be agile. Simplicity in security is critical to achieving that.”

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Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.



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