It's now a common goal for many businesses, both large and small, to embrace cloud-hosted services, invest in the Internet of Things (IoT)-enabled handheld and mobile technology, and make their in-house technology solutions ultimately more responsive and modernized for a broader user audience.
An important part of adopting so many of these new technologies is converging networking and security into a single cloud-based service -- otherwise known as Secure Access Service Edge (SASE). With SASE, businesses no longer need to worry about having a network that's too rigid and unchangeable and security measures that are too heavily focused on a data center.
Organizations can tailor their SASE model to their current and projected business requirements as well as their legacy networks, but not every organization needs a SASE model that's delivered via the cloud.
To that end, let's look at the best ways to tailor your SASE model according to your business needs and goals, as well as the reasons that they're so popular among rapidly digitizing organizations:
Focus on customer convenience
SASE models are inextricable from the always-desirable factor of customer convenience. Cloud-hosted security solutions bring with them even more convenience in the form of automated security controls, a range of secure web-based applications, and, of course, easy-to-use options for payment processing and checkout.
Cloud-based payment systems can remove the need for businesses to secure their online payment processing themselves so that they can focus more on cultivating a larger amount of customer convenience. If your business can’t completely integrate cloud-hosted security with its network just yet, it may make the most sense for it to first focus on convenience when it comes to processing its customer payments.
Consider a SASE model that's part of a managed payment processing package that comes ready with PCI-DSS certification, which means your customers can pay online whenever they want using their credit card or a secure bank payment (ACH). Maximize your customer convenience as well as convenience for yourself through SASE by letting your invoices and payments automatically flow into your accounting records so that you never lose track of payments in the future.
Focusing on cashless payment has potentially never been a better idea for businesses either, especially in light of the current COVID-19 pandemic. Mobile wallets and contactless cards, for example, represent customer preference for payments that aren't associated with the health hazards that come with handling physical banknotes and coins.
With SASE-enabled cloud storage, payments can become more secure and convenient even in the absence of a SASE model that's completely built in as part of a business's network.
Use private, cloud-hosted security
Although it's true that SASE can do away with the need for security tools that already exist on-premises, many businesses may still need to use such tools that exist as part of a hybrid cloud security architecture. Alternatives such as security infrastructure managed by private security on the cloud or SASE that comes as part of a managed service package may be more sensible for certain organizations.
Generally speaking, businesses who want to marry their networking with their security solutions have traditionally paid software companies to build out an infrastructure for them on which they can host security software.
Unfortunately, this method of integration also requires that businesses deal with any issues that arise regarding their users who need to access the infrastructure from their computer; this onus no longer falls onto the shoulders of businesses that tailor a SASE model to their needs and goals. The incredible uptick in cloud-hosted tools and resources now makes it possible for companies to pay a private cloud service to take care of managing their security for them.
Rather than assume the large responsibility of creating their own massive infrastructure themselves, businesses can instead use privately owned services to host a security product on the cloud and avoid paying large upfront fees that typically come with creating an infrastructure. With private, cloud-hosted security as part of their SASE model, businesses can allow their users to quickly hop on a web browser and access software without worrying about handling security-related issues.
Privately managed cloud-hosted security ultimately makes the most sense for organizations that don't have the resources to build in a SASE model as part of their network and deliver it as a cloud service themselves.
Private services not only handle this integration but also take care of ensuring the integrity of network security through continual monitoring. The best of these cloud-hosted services will build monitoring systems into a business's network security protocols from the most basic level, which is essential for keeping systems free of malicious software.
Create better remote access
It's imperative that businesses navigate a remote working environment with ease since that remote environment is now more widespread than ever before. The availability of mobile devices that have access to high-speed internet connectivity, though, also presents more potential network vulnerabilities for businesses.
And unlike the mobile devices of previous years, tablets and smartphones use complex networks that resemble the structure of traditional desktop computer networks and require adequate security to keep their entry points safeguarded from would-be cyber criminals.
In order to prevent access to unsecured entry points, WiFi connections, non-strengthened access protocols, and legacy or obsolete firmware, you need to install end-to-end encryption on both your router as well as each mobile or wireless device that communicates with your network to obtain internet access.
End-to-end encryption is one of the few security measures that can stand up to polymorphic malware, which transforms its code to evades detection and comprise 93% of malware as of last year. Use end-to-end encryption for your network and its connected mobile devices as the heart of your SASE model if you have limited resources and want to prioritize secure and remote connectivity.
In addition to installing end-to-end encryption on your network's router as well as the devices remotely connecting to it, remember to have your employees replace their default passwords with strong and hard-to-guess versions as well as update and patch your firmware each time it has new fixes ready.
Your SASE model, if you decide to focus on remote connectivity, should also include tools to run vulnerability assessments to probe and test your system for any potential malicious actors or flaws that can infiltrate the wireless devices that your employees use to remotely access your network.
If your business is considering tailoring a SASE model, first decide whether you want to create your own integrated security infrastructure yourself or with the help of a private services company.
Then, decide on how best to optimize your customer experience, which you should ideally do through improving and securing your payment processing system. Finally, double down on security measures in place to protect the mobile devices that are connected to your network to round out your tailored SASE model.