In today’s rapidly evolving digital landscape, organizations are navigating the complex terrain of digital transformation. As businesses embrace new technologies and shift towards cloud-based infrastructure, the need for robust and adaptable cybersecurity solutions has never been more crucial. Among the leaders in this field is Palo Alto Networks, and their Prisma SASE (Secure Access Service Edge) solution stands at the forefront of securing digital transformation initiatives.
Prisma SASE is not merely a cybersecurity tool but a comprehensive strategy designed to safeguard organizations as they embark on their digital transformation journeys. This introduction will delve into the critical aspects of Secure Digital Transformation with Prisma SASE from Palo Alto Networks, exploring how it empowers businesses to adopt cutting-edge technologies while seamlessly prioritizing security and user experience.
- Digital Transformation Background
- Why Mobile Technologies are Transforming the Workplace
- Challenges of Traditional Security in Modern Work Environments
- Inconsistent Application Performance
- Zero Trust Security Approach
- Four Critical Control Points in the Zero Trust Model
- Zero Trust With SASE
- The Imperative for a New Security Paradigm
- Prisma SASE Solution Secure Digital Transformation
Digital Transformation Background
Digital transformation uses digital technologies to create or modify existing business processes, culture, and user experiences to market requirements. There is currently a massive acceleration in digital transformation throughout many industries. This transformation acceleration is partly driven by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has accelerated working from home worldwide. As a result of increased work-from-home activity, organizations with remote workers consume more and more cloud services. Now, many organizations are moving into a hybrid cloud. In most cases, these organizations use more than one public cloud infrastructure tied back to their private cloud infrastructure. The new hybrid cloud environment has no central location for applications. Applications can now live anywhere. One big challenge with applications brought by the evolving hybrid cloud infrastructure is controlling and maintaining security for all the applications hosted in different places and on other infrastructures. Workforce threats identified by Palo Alto Networks in a sample of 500 enterprise customers, 53 per cent, came from non-web-based applications (Meyer, 2021). This means the applications did not communicate with their users with HTTP or HTTPS protocols. Applications now reside anywhere and can be accessed by users from anywhere. This introduces new challenges for the security team to protect its hybrid infrastructures. Applications living anywhere and working from anywhere are new norms. We need new solutions about how to secure these new norms infrastructures.
Why Mobile Technologies are Transforming the Workplace
In the new norms, employees aren’t bound to a physical location. Instead, they can keep working and stay connected using various mobile devices such as computers and smartphones. Mobile workforces are becoming more prevalent because these technologies are increasingly portable, easier to use, and affordable. Some of the advantages of these types of employees are as follows:
- Employees can immediately respond to customers’ needs, as they can access their company data from mobile devices instead of from the office.
- Businesses can provide 24×7 customer service or establish continuous workflows with employees scattered across time zones.
- Mobile-based employees can continue working while a company may experience downtime.
- Less travelling for meetings, as employees can set an appointment using online meeting applications
Challenges of Traditional Security in Modern Work Environments
While traditional security can secure internal networks, it fails to secure the new norms of work-from-anywhere or hybrid infrastructures. The traditional approach has significant limitations. Many organizations do not prioritise the security for their non-web-based applications as they use only Secure Web Gateways (SWGs) or Cloud Access Security Brokers (CASBs) solutions. These solutions can’t protect all applications or protocols as they only secure applications that use web protocols. The risk of shadow IT has also increased substantially with employees working from home on insecure networks. They also use personal, unmanaged devices, making shadow IT harder to detect and block. Many organizations apply security in a relaxed, “good enough” approach. But this is not good enough for several reasons. New security threats are developing from many sources. We have seen an increase in polymorphic malware, in the variety and volume of attacks, and in the ability of an attack to hit multiple vulnerabilities simultaneously. The growth in the number and sophistication of threats means security must be more thorough, robust, and completely consolidated and integrated into an organization’s security and application access solution. Remote workers need a consistent user experience that is optimized for wherever they are — and wherever their apps are. Consistency challenges that users often experience are as follows:
Inconsistent Application Performance
- Inconsistent Performance – Application performance is unpredictable. Apps might perform well on-premises or at an organization’s headquarters, but users might notice slow performance or more latency outside of the office to VPN or a home office.
- Limited Access Privileges – Users have different access privileges depending on where they are located. Many users can access almost everything from headquarters, but from a branch, Wi-Fi hotspot, or somewhere else, there might be restrictions or cumbersome workflows they must follow to access all their applications.
- Poor Visibility into Activity – Most cloud-delivered security vendors don’t provide enough visibility into the full range of activity on this new extended infrastructure to identify where a problem might lie, or provide the right type of remediation for that problem.
- Traditional WAN Path Selection – Increased WAN use and WAN requirements for security, control, visibility, and performance mean traditional WAN path selection based on Layer 3 metrics and MPLS links do not meet the needs of the current digital environment. MPLS is too expensive, and IPsec VPNs with backhauling to headquarters lead to a poor user experience.
Zero Trust Security Approach
Zero Trust Zero is a term and strategic approach in Cybersecurity that secures an organization by eliminating implicit trust and continuously verifies every network’s transactions. It does not simply trust every user, interface, packet, and application. By eliminating trust in these objects, we simplify network security and maximize security effectiveness. The guiding principle of Zero Trust architectures is “never trust, always verify.” There is no default trust for any entity, including users, devices, applications, and sessions, regardless of where their traffic originates within the corporate networks. Only authorized entities perform what they are permitted to do. Zero Trust can implement sensors with control capability placed throughout the data center via firewalls or endpoint protection (Georgi, 2020). Critical data segments or microsegments. The sensors control traffic among segments or microsegments, ensuring that they inspect the who, what, where, when, and how of traffic to secure critical data. Sensor data serves as necessary information for machine-learning detection. This offers a simpler approach to controlling traffic, protecting endpoints, and providing better solutions than traditional security approaches.
Four Critical Control Points in the Zero Trust Model
Here are four control points to be secured in the Zero Trust model.
- Identity – No matter where the user is located, whether it be in their corporate office, working from home, or mobile, a Zero Trust environment must confirm the users using strong authentication methods including two-factor authentication.
- Device/Workload – A Zero Trust environment must not implicitly trust the device they are using. Laptops, mobile phones, tablets, and other devices cannot simply be assumed to be trusted. The device’s integrity must be verified.
- Access – Securing users also includes securing their access to applications, their function within an application, and their access to a file directory. A zero-trust environment must enforce a least-privilege policy that only allows the user to access what they have been specifically approved to access.
- Transaction – To achieve a complete zero-trust environment, it is essential to analyze every transaction. Even when a user accesses a specific application or resource, Zero Trust security solutions must actively scan all content for possible malicious activity and data theft.
Zero Trust With SASE
Today, applications, data, and users are connected from everywhere, in data centres, clouds, software-as-as-service (SaaS) applications, and so on. Companies are struggling to gain visibility into their applications and data, let alone control and manage the access of those assets. This is where augmenting SASE solutions with Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA) helps. SASE with ZTNA provides security and connectivity with the cloud to offer consistent protection, exceptional user experience, and flexibility. Also, it helps reduce costs associated with deploying security at scale while providing a single, holistic view of the entire network. Here are more points about why augmenting SASE with ZTNA is necessary.
- Provide Secure Uninterrupted Access – More enterprises are leveraging secure access service edge (SASE) solutions to secure uninterrupted access for their branch offices and users.
- Deliver Consistent Security and Connectivity – SASE promises consistent security and connectivity no matter where applications, users, or branch offices are located, and ZTNA can augment traditional VPN solutions.
- ZTNA With a Single Solution – By combining SASE and the Zero Trust concept, companies can achieve ZTNA with a single solution to control and apply policies across their entire network consistently.
The Imperative for a New Security Paradigm
Organizations need a new approach and a better way to provide good security and a good user experience. Here are the requirements for this new approach, where apps live anywhere and people work from anywhere. This new approach must protect all app traffic. To significantly reduce the risk of a data breach, the approach must provide access to all applications and secure those applications against all threats, not just secure web-based apps from web-based threats. The new approach includes a complete solution offering best-in-class security capabilities consolidated into a single cloud-delivered platform. To reduce the risk of threats, this approach has a consistent policy applied and threat intelligence shared across the entire ecosystem, so each capability and each part of the platform is as informed as the other parts. The new approach must deliver an exceptional user experience with consistent performance and consistent access levels. It must also provide the ability to manage user experience with guaranteed SLAs. The new approach must secure, route, and manage WAN traffic as integrated SASE solution capabilities.
Prisma SASE Solution Secure Digital Transformation
Existing network approaches and technologies no longer provide digital organisations with the security and access control levels. There is a demand for immediate, uninterrupted access for users, no matter where they are located. Prisma SASE is the Palo Alto Networks cloud-delivered security platform for digital transformation. Prisma SASE is the industry’s most complete SASE solution that can converge security, simplify SD-WAN technology, and Autonomous Digital Experience Management into a single cloud-delivered solution.
The Prisma SASE solution structures protect all applications with the highest level of security while optimizing the user experience. It properly integrates services, not just service chains of multiple products, with combined services and visibility for all locations, mobile users, and the cloud. It is developed for cloud and hybrid environments and is cloud-delivered. Prisma SASE uses many points of presence to reduce latency and supports in-country or in-region resources and regulatory requirements. It goes beyond box-based access support with agent-based capability managed as a cloud service. Network security policy enforcement beyond IP addresses. It uses identity-based and application-based policy enforcement, incorporating real-time conditions such as device type, posture, and location.
Recently, Palo Alto Networks Prisma SASE Solution has been recognized as the only Leader in the Gartner® Magic Quadrant™ for Single-Vendor SASE. Gartner defines single-vendor secure access service edge (SASE) offerings as vendors that deliver multiple converged-network and provide security-as-a-service, such as software-defined WAN, secure web gateway, cloud access security broker capabilities, network firewall, and zero trust network access. Please visit here to learn more about Prisma SASE and how Prisma SASE can help you secure digital transformation.
- Georgi, J. (2020, January 6). Zero Trust Network Access: Build Your SASE on a Solid Foundation. Palo Alto Networks. Retrieved September 4, 2023, from https://www.paloaltonetworks.com/blog/2020/01/cloud-zero-trust-network-access/
- Meyer, D. (2021, August 4). Top challenges for hybrid workforces. Palo Alto Networks. Retrieved September 4, 2023, from https://www.paloaltonetworks.com/blog/sase/2021-hybrid-workforce/
- 2023 Gartner® Magic Quadrant™ for Single-Vendor SASE. (n.d.). Palo Alto Networks. Retrieved September 4, 2023, from https://start.paloaltonetworks.com/gartner-sase-mq-2023.html
- Prisma SASE. (n.d.). Palo Alto Networks. Retrieved September 4, 2023, from https://www.paloaltonetworks.com/resources/datasheets/prisma-sase
- Understanding Zero Trust. (n.d.). Palo Alto Networks. Retrieved September 4, 2023, from https://www.paloaltonetworks.com/zero-trust