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/ What Is Security as a Service (SECaaS)?

What Is Security as a Service (SECaaS)?

Security as a service (SECaaS) is the delivery of security technologies—traditionally found in enterprise data centers or regional gateways—as a cloud service. With SECaaS, a service provider delivers security solutions such as email security, identity and access management (IAM), endpoint security, incident response, and others through a subscription-based model rather than hardware.

Security as a Service (SECaaS)

What Is Security as a Service in Cloud Computing?

In a cloud computing environment, admins are tasked with provisioning instances to deploy IT infrastructure, build web applications and APIs, and so on. In a cybersecurity context, SECaaS refers to information security teams working alongside a SECaaS provider to deploy one or more security tools. By deploying these tools via the cloud rather than on-premises, organizations can take advantage of holistic yet granular security at a lower cost.

Typically, such a provider will run a security assessment to see which services would be required. To this end, organizations typically need to leverage multiple providers as there is a bevy of disciplines that all require different security experts to address. For example, a company that provides antivirus, malware, or phishing protection as a service may not also perform vulnerability scanning for application security.

Benefits and Challenges of Security as a Service

There are many reasons why organizations are outsourcing their application architectures through SaaS in lieu of on-premises software. SaaS apps offer far greater availability and accessibility, no matter where users connect, because they’re accessed through the internet. They also offer lower upfront costs and simpler management because the vendor can continuously update them in the cloud. And critically, SaaS is scalable, so as you add users, you simply adjust your subscription.

The legacy ‘data center as the center of the universe’ network and network security architecture is obsolete and has become an inhibitor to the needs of digital business.

- Gartner, The Future of Network Security is in the Cloud

Benefits

Security as a service offers similar advantages and even more:

Policies That Follow Users

Whether your users are working on the network in your headquarters, connecting in a coffee shop, or using airport Wi-Fi, they should have identical security and data protection. With a cloud service, your business policies follow users no matter where they connect. All connections are inspected and secured, no matter which user they’re coming from, the app being accessed, or any encryption protocols in use.

Improved Visibility

With cloud security, your organization gets real-time visibility into all of its traffic, applications in use, any compromised IoT devices, threats and policy violations blocked, and much more. Like a security information and event management (SIEM) solution, an integrated cloud solution gives you a centralized view of all activities across services—firewall, sandbox, secure web gateway, advanced threat protection, data loss prevention, bandwidth control, and more.

Fewer Vulnerabilities

Today’s bad actors understand that legacy security in the data center can’t protect these users, and attackers are increasingly targeting mobile users, and using mobile devices as a beachhead to attack enterprise environments. If you can’t secure every connection, you leave your entire network vulnerable to attack. Security as a service closes gaps in enterprise security created by off-net users and those connecting directly to cloud apps and the open internet.

Increased Scalability

Legacy network security models can’t scale, and they certainly aren’t agile. Changes are onerous and take much too long in the digital world. Cloud security, on the other hand, is near-infinitely scalable. It easily handles traffic spikes and inspects all traffic, even encrypted traffic, without impacting performance. You can add users, add services, and even add offices almost instantly. You never run out of capacity, as you do with appliances.

Challenges

The legacy “data center as the center of the universe” network and network security architecture has become obsolete, an inhibitor to the needs of digital business. In this way, SECaaS provides a clear advantage, but there are still some challenges that come with it.

  • Migrating away from legacy hardware: The benefits of cloud security cannot be overstated, but in the migratory period between moving off of legacy security and implementing the cloud, your organization could be left vulnerable.
  • Accountability (or a lack thereof): Per a shared responsibility model, part of the fault with a cloud service issue lies with the provider and the other part with the customer. Regardless of who’s to blame, the consequence is no different if security issues arise during a SECaaS deployment.
  • Misconfiguration risk: This ties into accountability, but it’s worth mentioning since misconfigurations are the number one cause of cloud data breaches. If your team or a cloud provider makes a mistake while provisioning, problems may rise as a result.

Features of SECaaS

Security as a service technology provides unique capabilities that on-premises solutions don’t.

  • The potential for automation: Because the cloud isn’t limited by hardware and can be continuously improved as such, cloud security architects can implement logic and schema to automate certain functions, making life easier for admins, threat hunters, SecOps teams, and so on.
  • Improved IoT/OT protection: Legacy security can’t scale to meet modern data protection needs, including protecting the data that flows in and out of IoT- and OT-connected devices, machines, etc. SECaaS scales to protect data as your organization creates more of it.
  • Zero trust capability: Zero trust security is only possible through a cloud-delivered architecture. With zero trust, security policy follows users wherever they go, no matter which devices they sign in from. Legacy architectures are incapable of this.

Why You Need Security as a Service for Cloud Migration

As Gartner pointed out in their report, The Future of Network Security Is in the Cloud, “The enterprise data center is no longer the center of access requirements for users and devices.” The report goes on to say that the networking and security model has effectively been turned upside-down from the time it was developed, a time when all users were on the network and all applications were housed in the secure data center. Today:

  • More user traffic is going to cloud services than to data centers
  • More work is performed off the network than on it
  • More SaaS applications are in use than those hosted locally

The traditional network forces all traffic through a centralized data center for security and access controls—a complex configuration that results in a terrible user experience. Cloud applications, such as Microsoft 365 and Workday, were designed to be accessed directly through local internet breakouts.

For hybrid workers, the experience is even worse, because they have to use a virtual private network (VPN) to have their traffic routed through the security stack on the network only to be sent out to cloud destinations.

In this model, you have to bring users to the security, while a cloud-delivered model brings security to the users.

Examples of Security as a Service

Here are some of the security technologies that can be offered through the cloud as a service:

  • Secure web gateway: Improves web security by preventing unsecured internet traffic from entering an organization’s internal network.
  • Firewall as a service: Protects traffic by delivering advanced Layer 7/next-generation firewall (NGFW) capabilities via a managed service.
  • Data loss prevention (DLP): Monitors and inspects data on a corporate network to prevent exfiltration of critical data as a result of cyberattacks.
  • Sandboxing: Provides an additional layer of security against zero day threats and advanced persistent threats (APTs) through an integrated file behavioral analysis.

How to Choose a Security as a Service Provider

When browsing the market for effective cloud security, there are a couple of things to take into account:

  • Is it built on a SASE architecture? Gartner has stated that “The secure access service edge is an emerging offering combining comprehensive WAN capabilities with comprehensive network security functions.” This is essential for an effective cloud native security platform.
  • Can it protect your hybrid workforce? SECaaS can do wonders in today’s unpredictably flexible working world, but only a provider whose architecture is built in the cloud—rather than on a virtual machine strapped to a piece of hardware—will have the reach to ensure your organization’s employees are protected from threats, no matter where they are or which devices they use.
  • Can it maintain (and even improve) user experiences? Of course, security is paramount when it comes to selecting a cloud service, but you don’t want to hamper your user’s experiences, especially in the era of hybrid work. A truly cloud native platform will not only deliver great experiences, but also provide continuous monitoring of these experiences.
  • Is it true zero trust? Gartner has stated that zero trust will replace VPNs by 2025. In light of this, many security vendors have placed a “zero trust” label on their products, but only one vendor delivers true zero trust, straight from the cloud—Zscaler.

How Zscaler Can Help

The Zscaler Zero Trust Exchange™ is a cloud native security platform that lets your organization enjoy a faster, more secure user experience on an enterprise-grade security cloud built on Gartner’s vision of a SASE architecture.

With more than 150 data centers globally, every office or user, anywhere, gets a fast and secure connection. The Zero Trust Exchange elastically scales to your users' traffic demands, even hard-to-inspect TLS/SSL. Zscaler processes more than 200 billion transactions at peak periods and performs 175,000 unique security updates each day. Any threat detected in our cloud is blocked for every other cloud user within seconds.

The Zero Trust Exchange:

  • Eliminates the attack surface by placing applications behind the exchange, preventing discovery and targeted attacks.
  • Prevent lateral movement of threats by establishing direct user-to-app connections, without network access, to isolate threats.
  • Improves the user experience by directing connections to cloud applications and intelligently managing and optimizing them.
  • Reduces costs and complexity through simplified deployment and management without the need for VPNs or complex firewall rules.
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Zscaler operates the world’s largest cloud-delivered security platform, built to close security gaps and expedite your cloud migration.

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