The Pros and Cons of SSE for Cloud Security

We are increasingly relying on the cloud, and cybercriminals are devising new ways to infiltrate it. They can invade your system, infect your cloud-based applications, and retrieve your data and information, and you won’t even know about it. If you have a remote workforce and they access your system from an unsecured connection, it would be a recipe for irreversible disaster.

These challenges and threats have made businesses look for a top-notch security solution to protect them while working on the cloud. SSE, being a cloud-based solution, has gained much attention. However, technology is a double-edged sword, so you should know both the pros and cons of SSE before inviting it into your system. Let’s understand SSE more deeply and discuss its pros and cons.

What is a Secure Service Edger (SSE)?

SSE is a part of the secure access service edge (SASE) that covers security strategies, capabilities, functionality, and features. Gartner SSE is a cloud-centric technology that leverages cloud security features to protect your websites, infrastructure, and applications.

The core capabilities of SSE include

  • Zero Trust Network
  • Firewall as a Service
  • Cloud Secure Web Gateway
  • Cloud Access Security Broker

This holistic approach to security caters to the varying needs of today’s distributed workforce. Organizations can adopt SSE to simplify their security infrastructure, reduce cost and complexity, and maximize the security of their network.

Pros of SSE

Considering the increasing pace of cyberattacks and related costs, a recent study revealed that 65% of companies plan to adopt SSE within the next two years, and 47% intend to start with ZTNA deployment.

These impressive stats are the result of some of its great advantages over traditional security solutions, as mentioned below.

Cloud Security Consolidation

SSE has an advantage over most traditional security solutions as it consolidates all security services to act as a unified security solution. Implementing and combining all requisite security services under one roof allows security to be done more effectively while ensuring that all your data is protected under the same standardized protection.

This subsequently will decrease the chances of data loss and cyber-attacks. Moreover, it ensures that your system is running smoothly.

Reduced Security Risks with Zero Trust Access (ZTNA)

SSE incorporates zero trust access, meaning no one (person, device, system) within or outside the organization should be trusted to grant access to a system.

This means SSE will leverage identity-based access boundaries of ZTNA to give your remote staff access to some part of your organization based on the cloud.

However, SSE solutions vary in the way these Zero Trust solutions are deployed; how trust is verified, and application connectivity is established.

Some SSE solutions overlay the top of the enterprise network using application connectors and do not continuously monitor the traffic between users and applications. On the contrary, some SSE products implement identity-aware segmentation and perform deep packet security inspection of all traffic.

High-Performance and Flexible Security Inspection

This cloud-based and cloud-native SSE solution comprises Points of Presence (PoPs).  These PoPs must secure the system without compromising on user experience. To do so, such PoPs must be able to scale horizontally and vertically. Moreover, they should be placed within 25ms of every user or business location and utilize optimal routing traffic coming both from local and foreign sources.

SSE providers offer the choice between their own cloud with low physical infrastructure and SSE PoPs from public cloud nodes (Azure, AWS, GCP), making it one of the most flexible security solutions to embrace.

Improved Security Posture

SSE providers comprise cloud and security specialists monitoring threats and implementing mitigation strategies. This significantly eases the burden on the client’s IT staff.

SSE providers utilize their expertise and provide peace of mind to customers that their cloud infrastructure is secured from cyberattacks.

Reduced IT Workload

SSE providers have designed methods to update your cloud infrastructure with no customer involvement continuously. This means customers won’t have to invest in expensive IT infrastructure and spend their time and resources on business-focused activities.

Moreover, PoPs should automatically back up one another in a cloud-based system like SSE. If one PoP becomes inaccessible, the users and location should seamlessly shift to another PoP. This will reduce the downtime and eliminate the need for a complicated high availability design.

Cons of SSE

SSE is no doubt an easy and effective security solution, but is it sufficient for today’s hybrid workforce? Here are some of the disadvantages of SSE, which might limit its widespread adoption.

SSE Lacks the core premise of an application-centric approach

The main problem with SSE is that it undermines the fundamental principle of an integrated application-centric approach: to serve applications to users wherever they are. The global workforce has shifted in recent years, and working from anywhere will increase the need for security solutions.

SSE undermines traffic complexity

SSE completely ignores the complexity of traffic aggregation and management from collective sources, such as remote users and brand offices. As work patterns have shifted from users to applications anywhere, packet loss negatively impacts user experience, especially for voice and video-based applications.

SSE lacks multiple security enforcement points

A holistic security approach should have multiple security enforcement points between applications and users. However, the practical security insertion decisions that a user needs their network to be designed for are not solved by SSE.

The decision-making in SSE is coupled with a lack of skilled resources and fragmented solutions. This may cause a greater burden on the system, leading to exposures and misconfigurations.

SSE access traffic directly to public cloud

SSE does not account for the unique application security needs on the public cloud. For instance, a cloud access security broker (CASB) would be relevant if traffic goes to SaaS applications. However, if the user is accessing through the public cloud or IaaS, data protection and compliance would be the biggest challenges.

Moreover, the security posture of SSE is also under question because if any traffic directly accesses the public cloud /Iaas or the internet, it may lead to a cesspool of attack traffic that may not traverse the SSE.

Final Words

The decentralized workforce of today demands a unified, effective, and inclusive cloud security solution. SSE, being a unified platform to protect your data and cloud, is getting a fair amount of attention.

With its improved security posture, reduced IT workload, regular inspections, and automatic updates, SSE could be the next big solution for all your cloud security needs. However, its SSE has extended its fixed-location-based approach of point security to edge/cloud, which may not fulfill today’s distributed and hybrid workforce needs.

Integrated security and networking with end-to-end control and visibility are what we need in today’s work-from-anywhere system.

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