General security

What is Security Service Edge (SSE)?

Gilad Maayan
April 24, 2023 by
Gilad Maayan

SSE, or Security Service Edge, is a security solution that provides services to protect and secure an organization's network and data. It protects against cyber threats and attacks and ensures compliance with regulatory requirements. SSE is being rapidly adopted by organizations, with the realization that traditional network security systems cannot cope with the modern hybrid enterprise.

The main capabilities of SSE include the following:

  • Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA): This security model assumes that all network traffic is untrusted and requires authentication and authorization before it is allowed to access the network.
  • Cloud Secure Web Gateway (SWG): This service provides web filtering and content inspection to protect against web-based threats and attacks.
  • Cloud Access Security Broker (CASB): This service provides security for cloud-based applications and data, including monitoring and controlling access to cloud services.
  • Firewall-as-a-Service (FWaaS): This service provides firewall capabilities to protect against network-based threats and attacks. 

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Security Service Edge vs. SASE: What is the difference?

SSE and SASE (Secure Access Service Edge) are security solutions that protect against cyber threats and attacks. However, SSE primarily focuses on providing security services, while SASE focuses on providing a complete suite of network services with built-in security. 

SASE is a more comprehensive solution that combines the functions of a cloud SWG, CASB, FWaaS and software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) into a single, unified solution. It enables organizations to secure and optimize the delivery of applications and services across the enterprise, from branch offices to the cloud. 

SASE provides a more complete suite of network services with built-in security for users and applications, and it often includes SSE as part of its functions. It enables organizations to easily manage and monitor security and networking infrastructure from a unified console.

How Security Service Edge helps security teams

Here are several ways SSE can help network and infrastructure security teams reduce manual tasks and improve security posture.

Secure access to cloud services and web usage

SSE uses SWG for web filtering and content inspection. It helps protect against web-based threats and attacks. And it ensures that users can only access the services and websites necessary for their work and blocks access to malicious websites and unwanted content.

It also employs cloud security posture management (CSPM) to achieve visibility and control over cloud resources and services and detect misconfigurations and vulnerabilities that attackers can exploit. CSPM can automate the remediation of specific security issues, helping organizations maintain a secure posture in the cloud.

Combining SWG and CSPM in SSE can provide a complete security solution for cloud services and web usage. SWG can protect against web-based threats and unwanted content, while CSPM can detect and remediate misconfigurations and vulnerabilities in cloud services and resources. This can help organizations to protect against cyber threats and attacks and to ensure compliance with regulatory requirements.

Detect and mitigate threats

SSE can detect and mitigate threats by providing advanced threat prevention capabilities, including:

  • Cloud firewall: A cloud firewall is a security service deployed in the cloud to protect against network-based threats and attacks. It blocks unauthorized access to the network and inspects and filters network traffic based on predefined security rules.
  • Cloud sandbox: A cloud sandbox is a service that runs a potentially malicious file in a virtualized environment to detect any malicious activity. This allows organizations to detect and prevent malware that may have evaded traditional security measures.
  • Malware detection: SSE can provide detection capabilities to detect and prevent malware that may have evaded traditional security measures. This can include signature-based detection, behavioral-based detection, and machine learning-based detection.
  • Content-based inspection (CBI): SSE can provide content-based inspection (CBI) capabilities to inspect and filter network traffic based on the content of the traffic. This can include inspecting files, web traffic, and email traffic to detect and prevent malicious activity.

By combining these capabilities, SSE can provide a comprehensive solution for detecting and mitigating threats. This can help organizations quickly identify and respond to cyberattacks and to take the necessary actions to protect their networks and data.

Connect and secure remote workers

SSE can be used to connect and secure remote workers by using ZTNA. It can provide remote workers with secure access to the organization's network and data, regardless of location or device type. Here are the key technologies involved:

  • Authentication: ZTNA uses multi-factor authentication (MFA) to ensure only authorized users can access the network. MFA can include a combination of something the user knows (such as a password or PIN), something the user has (such as a security token or smartphone), or scanning part of a user’s body using biometrics (such as a fingerprint or facial recognition).
  • Authorization: ZTNA uses role-based access control (RBAC) to ensure that users can only access the resources necessary for their work. For example, in a Kubernetes environment, the Kubernetes RBAC feature can be used to define different access levels for different groups of users, and to assign specific permissions to individual users.
  • Encryption: ZTNA uses encryption to protect the data transmitted over the network. This can include encryption of network traffic and encryption of data at rest.

Identify and protect sensitive data

SSE helps identify and protect sensitive data using various data protection technologies, such as:

  • Cloud Data Loss Prevention (DLP): Cloud DLP is a service that helps organizations identify and protect sensitive data. It can scan data in cloud services and infrastructure and automatically detect and classify sensitive data. Once sensitive data is identified, DLP can block, quarantine, or encrypt it to protect it from unauthorized access or exfiltration.
  • High-performance TLS/SSL inspection: SSE can provide high-performance Transport Layer Security (TLS)/Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) inspection capabilities. It allows for inspecting encrypted traffic to detect and prevent data exfiltration, malware, and other security threats.
  • Shadow IT discovery: SSE can provide shadow IT discovery capabilities to detect and monitor the use of unauthorized cloud services and applications within an organization. This can help organizations identify and remediate security risks associated with the use of shadow IT.

How to choose the right SSE platform

When evaluating SSE platforms, there are several key factors to consider to ensure that the platform is the right fit for the organization's needs, including:

  • Cloud readiness: The platform should provide security services for cloud-based applications and data, including monitoring and controlling access to cloud services. This can help organizations ensure their cloud environments' security and compliance.
  • Provide converged management and analytics in a single pane of glass: The platform should provide a converged management and analytics solution in a single pane of glass. This can help organizations manage and monitor their security and networking infrastructure from a unified console.
  • Scalability: The platform should scale to meet the needs of organizations of any size, from small businesses to large enterprises. It should be able to integrate with other security solutions, such as SIEM, to provide a comprehensive security solution.

By considering these key factors, organizations can ensure that they choose the right SSE platform to meet their security and compliance needs.

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What doe SSE provide?

SSE provides services to protect and secure an organization's network and data. It is designed to protect against cyber threats and attacks, using capabilities such as ZTNA, Cloud SWG, CASB, FWaaS, and advanced threat protection. SSE differs from SASE in that it primarily offers security, while SASE is a more comprehensive solution that combines security and networking functions into a single, unified solution. 

Choosing the right SSE platform is crucial for ensuring the security of an organization's network and data. By considering key factors such as inline and SSL inspection, cloud readiness, converged management and scalability, organizations can ensure that they choose a platform that covers their security needs.

Gilad Maayan
Gilad Maayan

Gilad David Maayan is a technology writer who has worked with over 150 technology companies including SAP, Imperva, Samsung NEXT, NetApp and Ixia, producing technical and thought leadership content that elucidates technical solutions for developers and IT leadership. Today he heads Agile SEO, the leading marketing agency in the technology industry.