The role of SASE in securing the Office Anywhere

Mark Lambe

Securing the Office Anywhere

The last few weeks of working remotely have certainly been an eye-opener. As the family adapted to the ‘new normal’ of continuously being online; we discovered new video, collaboration, and cloud applications for work, school, and social interaction. We all became experts in securing the office anywhere of Wi-Fi congestion, Wi-Fi boosters, and how to reduce our bandwidth usage, especially in the afternoon when work, school, video streaming, and gaming services surged in usage.

The resiliency of mobile connectivity for remote working

One of the key takeaways for me was the ubiquity and resiliency of mobile connectivity throughout the pandemic. Rather than risk a service degradation while communicating with customers, it was easier to swap over to my corporate mobile. The question is, why aren’t more enterprises encouraging greater use of the mobile device, especially with all you can eat data plans to enable the office anywhere?

At Asavie we have been thinking a lot about the ‘new normal’, and what that may mean for businesses who wish to keep employees productively engaged and stress-free while working remotely. In the future of work, the office can be anywhere, and employers should consider how they can maximize the potential of their mobile estate to facilitate their employees to remain connected and secure.

How is network security changing in an Office Anywhere?

As I learned over the lock-down, not all networks and security solutions are equal when it comes to securing the office anywhere. Admittedly on reflection, it was an unprecedented situation for CIOs to have to enable their businesses work remotely overnight! Some CIOs have proven to be heroes, and others less so … 

While collaborating on the Clavem Research white paper, “Enterprise Network Security and the Future of Work”, we looked at the various offerings that are used to secure remote employees. These included Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA), Cloud Access Service Brokers (CASB) to a newly coined term Secure Access Service Edge (SASE).

Table: An Assessment of Business Problems Solved by SD-WAN, CASB & ZTNA

In the example table above, when we dug into each technology it was clear that gaps existed in terms of how security was implemented, with some offerings requiring apps or clients on the device. When we scraped under the surface of how they work, we discovered that these were essentially VPN clients. As we highlight in the white paper, each of these network security technologies offered very little in terms of protecting the enterprise mobile estate. When we delved into other offerings, they were akin to the traditional on-premise firewall, but instead were now hosted in the cloud. Worryingly, these solutions offered little to no protection of the mobile device.

CIOs scrambling for access

As CIOs scrambled to deliver access to employees in the early days of the pandemic, it is not surprising that they elected to use corporate mobiles and stitched together online remote access services to give access to applications inside the enterprise firewalls. However, one of the findings of the white paper, is that CIOs still have no visibility and control over what employees are accessing on the internet from their corporate mobiles.

In a previous Asavie blog (Phishing Attacks are Evolving), we can see that the threat to mobiles is real, and mobiles are increasingly being targeted by bad actors. The last thing any CIO wants to hear is that their mobile security has failed them.

The lack of visibility and control, coupled with our findings from the white paper would suggest now is the time for CIOs to rethink, mobile access, and security.

Securing an Office Anywhere Network

The “new normal” for all business will be the ability to provide a reliable network to their employees, wherever they may be. At Asavie we believe mobile is a key enabler to securing the Office Anywhere. We believe that a private mobile network slice, with safe and secure access to the internet and private corporate network, offers employers the peace of mind that both employees and their corporate devices are safe from cyber threats.

A final thought from the Clavem Research white paper is that to truly support the Office Anywhere, the business needs to control the mobile estate and manage it as if it were an extension of the private local area network (which aligns with SASE, but not with ZTNA/CASB, as some might suggest).

From my own COVID-19 experience, the flexibility to switch to a private mobile network for business continuity has certainly paid off, especially for the rest of the family!

 

To learn more:

You can read the joint Clavem Research and Asavie White Paper here:
White Paper: Enterprise Network Security and the Future of Work.

Or if you require further details on any of our services, please get in touch: support@asavie.com