Pushing Web Security to the Edge is Common Sense
By Jonathan Andresen
Not many people would argue with Thomas Edison’s quote, “The three great essentials to achieve anything worthwhile are, first, hard work; second, stick-to-itiveness; third, common sense.” If anything, it’s the last point – common sense – that’s been a virtue of the IT and software industry for decades, while the first two are table stakes.
In today’s hyper-connected world, common sense has provided the rationale for transitioning to a digital and more remote-friendly workplace. The business benefits of going digital and remote are obvious – greater productivity, lower capital, and operating costs, as well as new more efficient business workflows and use cases. Underpinning this new agile and remote workplace are two trends that make it possible – cloud computing and high- speed mobile connectivity (4G/5G). Where mobility allows users to access data from anywhere outside of the office, cloud services allow for infinite and flexible data scalability needed to support digital transformation. Both trends have massive upside for business but pose serious challenges for data security and expose the limits of legacy architectures.
Now more than ever, IT teams need to balance protecting confidential and private data while delivering a work environment that is remote, highly collaborative and increasingly cloud and mobile centric. The question is, how can an organization do that that when cloud services and mobility are beyond the perimeter of data center security tools like firewalls and secure web gateways? Traditionally, secure web gateways (SWG) were installed in the data center to proxy traffic. They enforce corporate and regulatory policy compliance and filter unwanted software/malware, including shadow IT and unmanaged apps, from user-initiated web/internet traffic. Secure web gateways were created as part of a centralized security toolset of SSL inspection, URL filtering, and malware protection at a time when the browser was the main conduit for web traffic – ‘common sense’ at the time.
Embracing more remote users, bring your own device (BYOD) and cloud applications, however, means routing all remote user traffic back to the datacenter. Gateways are expensive and difficult to manage in networks that provide direct access from multiple remote offices, as opposed to routing traffic to a central Internet access point to do SSL inspection. Inspecting encrypted traffic at the gateway also infringes on user privacy and backhauling traffic causes delays, latency, and bottlenecks. So, why continue to centralize web security when users are distributed and data is running on cloud services that bypass the enterprise data boundary? When the cloud has become the back-end data centre and mobile is the new front end for users – isn’t it time to consider a new, more modern approach to web security?
The answer is simple, put web security closer to the user. Pushing web security to the user endpoint gets around legacy architecture and solves the latency issue. If endpoints can carry their own on-device SWG, locally terminating SSL, and inspecting all network activity for blocking threats and data leakage – performance, latency, and management costs can all be improved. What’s more, user privacy can be protected. If you’re embracing cloud services and a more remote workforce, consider how Merriam-Webster defines common sense – “sound and prudent judgment based on a simple perception of the situation or facts”. While you may not invent the incandescent light bulb or the motion picture camera like Edison, you will very likely achieve something worthwhile – securing and protecting your enterprise data.
Bitglass’ report illustrates the challenges that organizations are facing in their attempts to enable remote work without hindering their security. Click the button below to learn more about the state of data protection and what you can do to secure your remote workforce and swiftly deploy a sound solution for security.