Skip to main content

Securing the Hybrid Workforce with Unified SASE

by Advatek
March 12, 2024

With the rise of the hybrid workforce, organisations have had to secure their employees who access the network and applications from on-site and off-site. This work-from-anywhere (WFA) shift has significantly expanded the attack surface, encompassing 
home offices and mobile workers, thereby increasing the complexity of network, application, and resource security.

Organisations dealing with numerous remote offices and WFA employees often encounter difficulties in consistently applying and enforcing security policies and ensuring an optimal work experience for users, regardless of their network location.

Securing this hybrid workforce environment presents a unique challenge as the changes have occurred organically rather than through a carefully planned strategy. The rapid proliferation of new network edges and the inclusion of WFA employees, often implemented as independent projects, have created vulnerabilities that cybercriminals eagerly exploit. On top of this, the trend has also led to organisations experiencing poor user, device, and application visibility, resulting in more threats and security gaps.

A secure access service edge (SASE) architecture helps address these exploits by providing secure access and high-performance connectivity to users in branches large and small or in any remote location. However, many SASE solutions only solve part of the 
problem. They either fail to provide consistent enterprise-grade cybersecurity to their hybrid workforce or cannot seamlessly integrate with the range of physical and virtual network and security tools deployed at the network edge. The result is an inability to deliver consistent cybersecurity and optimal user experiences. 

Unified SASE, built on the Fortinet single-vendor approach, delivers a comprehensive SASE solution by integrating software-defined wide area network (SD-WAN) with a cloud-delivered security service edge (SSE) to extend the convergence of networking and security from the network edge to remote users, together with a unified management, unified agent, and digital experience monitoring (DEM).

Unified SASE has been specifically engineered to converge networking and security into an integrated and adaptive solution to ensure optimal and secure connectivity for the hybrid workforce. Unified SASE is a comprehensive cloud-centric SASE solution that safeguards WFA users with the same underlying OS, AI-powered services, unified agent, management, and experience monitoring as our on-premises solution. And it secures all users, devices, and edges, including microbranches, for the best flexibility for organizations with disparate architectures and requirements.

Fortinet Unified SASE includes a high-performance and scalable cloud network with 100+ locations globally, enabling broad coverage and scalability for all our customers, regional and global. Unified SASE provides the utmost security, whether users access the web, corporate applications, or Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) applications.

The Unique Fortinet Strategy

Fortinet's unique secure networking strategy, driven by a single operating system called FortiOS and enhanced with FortiGuard AI-Powered Security Services, enables them to weave security and networking functionality into a single, integrated system to deliver consistent security and user experience to any user anywhere.

Unified SASE enables organizations to secure access to the web, cloud, and applications with enterprise-grade cybersecurity and superior user experience built in.

Simple, Seamless, and Scalable Cloud-Delivered Security

An intuitive cloud-based user interface provides unified network and security visibility and is easy to configure. You can instantly see endpoints, users, point-of-presence graphical information, and threat analytics.

As a single-vendor SASE solution, Unified SASE is managed by Fortinet FortiManager, providing unmatched visibility, management, and consistent security policies across on-premises and remote users. Its SSE component, FortiSASE, offers easier user onboarding and the industry’s most flexible tiered user-based licensing model. This allows organizations to transition from CapEx to OpEx business models to keep the costs of today’s highly dynamic networks and infrastructures predictable.

FortiSASE is also Service Organization Controls (SOC 2) certified. It provides independent validation that its solution security controls operate per the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants applicable Trust Services Principles and Criteria. This SOC 2, Type II standard certification demonstrates Fortinet’s commitment to ensuring our customers meet diverse compliance requirements.

Additionally, FortiSASE offers a comprehensive set of enterprise-class security capabilities already fully integrated into the solution, including SWG, zero-trust network access (ZTNA), next-generation dual-mode CASB, FWaaS, and advanced threat protection capabilities. 

Unified SASE supports five critical use cases:
1. Secure internet access

For WFA users operating outside the corporate perimeter, direct internet access expands their attack surface and risk. Unified SASE offers comprehensive SWG and FWaaS capabilities to secure managed and unmanaged devices by supporting agent and agentless approaches.

2. Secure private access

With the hybrid workforce, traditional VPNs struggle to scale. And because they do not include integrated inspection or advanced protections, compromised VPN tunnels can open access to every application, expanding the attack surface and increasing the risk of lateral threat movement. Unified SASE Secure Private Access (SPA) offers the industry’s most flexible and secure connectivity to corporate applications. 

Using a Universal ZTNA approach, organizations can implement granular application access to enable explicit, per-application access to help shift security strategies from an implicit trust model to a more secure explicit trust strategy. Unified SASE SPA also integrates seamlessly with SD-WAN networks to automatically find the shortest path to corporate applications powered by the intelligent steering and dynamic routing capabilities available in Unified SASE.

3. Secure SaaS access

Given the rapid increase in SaaS adoption, organizations continue to struggle with shadow IT challenges and stopping data exfiltration. Unified SASE SPA with next-generation dual-mode CASB, using both inline and out-of-band support, provides comprehensive visibility by identifying key SaaS applications and reporting risky applications to overcome shadow IT challenges. Next-generation CASB also offers granular control of the applications to secure sensitive data and detect and remediate malware in applications across both managed and unmanaged devices.

4. Branch transformation

With Fortinet Secure SD-WAN, organizations can improve connectivity, operations, and application access by enhancing and securing the WAN on-premises. This transformation results in a significantly better user experience for all.

5. VPN to ZTNA transition

ZTNA eliminates points of vulnerability by restricting network access. Also, the transition from VPN to ZTNA and adopting extensive identity verification leads to only appropriate users being granted access to the data and systems relevant to their role in the organization.