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SASE and Zero Trust PAM: Why Enterprises Need Both

SASE and Zero Trust PAM: Why Enterprises Need Both

Blog Article Published: 06/12/2024

Written by StrongDM.

Enterprise security and compliance teams must maintain constant awareness of all activities across their entire environment involving every user. Regulatory requirements, along with internally set policies and controls, demand thorough knowledge and understanding to effectively manage and secure their infrastructure. To achieve this, enterprises often turn to advanced security frameworks like Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) and Zero Trust Privileged Access Management (PAM).

SASE integrates networking and security services into a unified, cloud-native service model. It aims to provide secure and fast cloud-based networking to entities (people, systems, devices, etc.) no matter where they are located. The SASE model is particularly effective in environments where organizations are dealing with increased remote work, cloud applications, and mobile access, requiring both flexibility and stringent security.

Zero Trust PAM takes the principles of Zero Trust—never trust, always verify—and applies them specifically to managing and monitoring privileged access within an organization. Privileged accounts are significant targets for attackers because they often have elevated access that can lead to greater control over enterprise resources and sensitive data. Zero Trust PAM ensures that all privileged access is rigorously verified, monitored, and controlled, minimizing the risk of insider threats or external breaches.

Integration of SASE and Zero Trust PAM addresses the need for both comprehensive visibility and strict control:

  • Enhanced Security Posture: By combining SASE's ability to securely connect diverse environments with Zero Trust PAM's rigorous access controls for high-level accounts, enterprises can fortify their defenses against a wide range of security threats.
  • Regulatory Compliance: Both frameworks help ensure that enterprises meet compliance requirements by providing detailed logs, real-time monitoring, and robust data protection mechanisms, which are often required by regulations.
  • Operational Efficiency: Integrating networking and security into a cohesive framework reduces complexity and allows security teams to manage and monitor activities more effectively across their digital estate.

Ultimately, the integration of SASE and Zero Trust PAM enables enterprises to meet the high standards of security, compliance, and operational control required in today's complex and threat-prone digital environments.

Privileged Users: Where SASE Falls Short and Zero Trust PAM Fills the Gap

While SASE provides comprehensive network security coverage and effectively addresses the needs of typical enterprise users, it lacks the specific capabilities required to manage privileged users. These users, who hold extensive administrative or superuser privileges, require more focused and detailed control over their access. Zero Trust PAM steps in to meet these needs by offering granular, real-time control over the access rights and sessions of privileged users. This specialized management ensures that high-level access is continuously monitored and securely managed, complementing SASE's broader security measures.

Unlike traditional access management systems, which often assign static permissions to users at the start of a session without considering the context, Zero Trust PAM employs a dynamic approach. It assigns access permissions based on various factors, such as user roles, tags, and resource types, all within an auditable approval workflow.

For privileged users who need to perform sensitive tasks on critical resources, Zero Trust PAM ensures that access is granted only when necessary and only for as long as needed. This approach is enhanced by continuous authorization, which adjusts the level of access in real-time based on evolving circumstances. For instance, it can revoke access immediately if suspicious activity is detected or further restrict permissions on a resource or for specific actions, ensuring tight security control and compliance.

SASE and Zero Trust PAM: Working in Sync

SASE and Zero Trust PAM serve distinct but complementary roles within an organization. SASE is deployed to manage access for general enterprise users, providing broad network security coverage, while Zero Trust PAM is specifically designed for managing the access of privileged users. To put it into perspective, consider motorized vehicles as a mode of transportation: you might choose a minivan for a family vacation and a truck for making deliveries—each serves a specific purpose.

Enhancing Security with Both SASE and Zero Trust PAM

Integrating Zero Trust PAM with the SASE framework allows organizations to tailor the broad capabilities of SASE to the specialized needs of privileged users, ensuring they receive precise and secure access control. This combination ensures that while SASE secures the network for all users, Zero Trust PAM provides targeted control for privileged accounts, thereby strengthening the overall security framework and reducing the risks associated with insider threats or unauthorized access.

While SASE enables organizations to secure network access across distributed and cloud-centric environments, a Zero Trust PAM approach specifically tackles the challenges associated with privileged access control. Organizations use SASE to safeguard their enterprise users, but to protect their critical infrastructure and applications, they must implement Zero Trust PAM. This ensures that privileged access is governed by strict policy-based controls, maintaining continuous compliance and fortifying security measures.