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SaaS adoption eliminates visibility into and control over users’ web browsing behavior

Menlo Security
April 7, 2020
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We’ve been talking a lot recently about how changing work habits will disrupt enterprise security in 2020. Workers are becoming increasingly mobile, and enterprises continue to move mission-critical systems to the cloud. The problem is that traditional security strategies are not able to keep up with the changing web traffic patterns and volumes caused by these workplace shifts. The result is a broken security stack and increased costs.

A third side effect of cloud transformation is a lack of visibility into users’ web behavior. Traditional security solutions that protect on-premises infrastructure are based on knowing exactly what web traffic is entering the organization and exactly how users are interacting with web content. Routing all traffic through firewalls and proxies such as a secure web gateway (SWG) allows organizations to monitor web traffic for suspicious content and block anything that is untrustworthy.

You can argue that this approach was never a good way to protect users and their devices from malicious actors, but at least robust policies and safeguards can be attached to traffic flowing into and out of the organization—regardless of their effectiveness and their impact on user productivity. However, this visibility disappears as mobile and remote office users directly access the Internet without going through the corporate firewall.

There is evidence that this shift will be an ongoing problem. According to Blissfully, enterprises with more than 1,000 employees are adopting SaaS platforms at a rapid pace—with each employee using an average of 9.5 SaaS apps as part of their daily routine.

These SaaS platforms require direct and constant connectivity to users’ devices. Every edit to a document and every change to a database needs to be recorded and synced in real time for other users who might be working concurrently from the same file. Rerouting traffic through a central choke point would dramatically slow performance and erase any accessibility and productivity benefits that SaaS platforms promise to provide. And, as we have discussed previously, adding bigger pipes and scaling security appliances to every branch office and remote worker is both architecturally implausible and cost prohibitive.

Another problem occurs when the traditional hub-and-spoke security architecture attempts to decrypt HTTPS websites—a protocol that 90 percent of current websites use. Appliances and traditional security solutions simply cannot handle the increased load because of the advanced encryption techniques that HTTPS uses, preventing organizations from gaining visibility into HTTPS traffic to identify and block malicious content.

So what’s the answer? How can enterprises maintain visibility into users’ web browsing activity without impacting performance, putting the organization at risk, and breaking the budget?

The Menlo Security Secure Internet with an Isolation Core™

The solution is cloud security transformation—the process of moving security services to the cloud. Rather than trying to cram a square peg through a round hole by continuing to use an appliance-based security strategy, enterprises need to deliver security services through the cloud.

Cloud security ensures that policies (such as isolation) follow users wherever they log in from—whether it’s from corporate headquarters, a remote office, a customer site, or public Wi-Fi. This strategy gives cybersecurity teams the visibility into and control over all users’ web browsing without having to deploy an extensive and expensive network of security appliances. Cloud security works because the Internet is ubiquitous. It’s the medium through which all users access the websites, web apps, and SaaS platforms they need to do their jobs.

Enterprises are moving critical business systems to SaaS platforms, but they’ve found that moving to the cloud eliminates visibility into users’ web behavior. You can’t have cloud transformation without cloud security transformation. Contact Menlo Security today to learn more about cloud security transformation and the Menlo Security Secure Internet with an Isolation Core™