Transitioning to SSE: Exploring Benefits and Addressing Challenges
It’s clear that the four major components of SSE (see Part 1 for details) play a crucial role in preventing data breaches and ensuring a robust security framework for your organization. Now, it’s time to delve into the benefits of implementing SSE and how it can enhance your organization’s security posture while also addressing the challenges that may arise during the process.
The goal of a Zero Trust Architecture (ZTA) is the enforcement of the Principle of Least Privilege, which limits the “blast radius” of both external and internal malicious actors. As discussed throughout this blog, the four technologies that make up SSE are central to the implementation of this.
Here are a few of the benefits that can be gleaned from a fully-implemented SSE:
- Improved compliance with best-practice security frameworks such as NIST CSF and CIS
- Framework for adherence to data privacy policies such as GDPR and CCPA
- Access control framework for compliance with PCI-DSS
- Potentially reduced cost for cyber insurance
- Control over what users can access
- Lockdown of Shadow IT
These benefits tie back to protecting your enterprise’s data and ultimately help prevent a data breach.
While SSE has significant benefits, depending on your environment, there may be challenges to overcome as well. The good news is that an SSE can be rolled out incrementally, focusing on “bang for the buck” functionality dictated by your organization’s needs and hurdles.
You may have noticed how many times authentication and authorization were mentioned in the above sections. This is because authentication is the key to a Zero Trust Architecture. To authenticate a user, you must establish that user’s identity. To do that, you need two things in place:
- A “source of truth” for user identity
- A single authentication mechanism (SSO) that offers MFA
For many large enterprises, that first bullet may represent a challenge. Whether due to multiple HR systems, a lack of linkage between the HR systems and the user directory, or multiple user directories, getting to a “source of truth” is the most crucial yet difficult step in an SSE journey. While addressing this may seem daunting, some tools can simplify this effort by linking systems together using third-party products or leveraging the ability of most SSEs to leverage multiple identity providers via glue logic.
Some SSE platforms do not have a DLP component for on-premises data. In this instance, where it’s impractical to move data to the cloud, it may be necessary to implement a third-party solution for data discovery, classification, and tagging. When properly implemented, the tags can be a point of integration and will allow the SSE platform to prevent the tagged data from crossing network boundaries.
Once implementation is complete, it’s time to hand the platform off and integrate it into the enterprise’s day-to-day operations. How smoothly this goes will depend entirely on how much effort went into the long-term SSE strategy for the organization.
Two key areas of your strategy should receive additional up-front planning:
Data Loss Prevention (DLP)
The roll-out plan for DLP needs to be carefully coordinated across the organization and have executive support. Once the DLP ruleset is created, a period of time is spent simply monitoring usage and seeing how effective the rules are. When tested properly, switching from monitoring to enforcement mode will be non-disruptive to the business.
These rules, as well as their exceptions, however, are not static. Platform management, creating new rules as business requirements change, and managing exception requests and problem tickets will require dedicated resources. These may be personnel within the business or a Managed Service Provider. Either way, this must be planned for.
Principle of Least Privilege
In addition to implementing DLP controls across your organization, following the Principle of Least Privilege within a ZTNA can also play a key role in your data breach prevention. By utilizing Role-Based Access Control (RBAC) and implementing a role-driven lifecycle management program, you can:
- Automate your organization’s joiner, mover, and leaver process
- Ensure that employees only have access to the data they need to perform their job functions.
An Identity Governance and Administration (IGA) solution can help streamline and automate this process if an existing system is not already in place.
Footnote: Cloud-centric organizations have it easier
Organizations that have fully migrated to the cloud find this effort far easier. First and foremost, identity will typically be centrally managed with a single IdP and Single Sign-On services. With limited or no on-prem data, all DLP is handled through the CASB and SWG components of the SSE.
So, where does this leave us?
A data breach can wreak havoc on your business, resulting in substantial financial losses and eroding the trust of customers and partners. There’s no doubt that preventing a data breach is paramount. The key lies in effectively deploying a Zero Trust Architecture using the Principles of Least Privilege and SSE to protect your enterprise assets.
By partnering with experienced professionals like Trace3, you can develop a comprehensive plan tailored to your organization’s unique environment and challenges. We will guide you through the implementation process and ensure a successful migration, always keeping the primary goal in sight of minimizing your exposure to data breaches and securing your valuable assets.
This Blog was written by Brett Wyer, Michael Morrison, and Jamie Zolan