Secure access is a highly evolved version of traditional remote access, allowing any type of user or device to connect to any resource, device, or application regardless of location or network. It includes traditional remote access (computer to corporate network), access to data and applications in the cloud. And even secure connectivity of IoT devices over private networks or the Internet.
The notion of secure access started after a mini-revolution in the late 1990s, known as VPNs (virtual private networks). Before VPNs, remote users had to use modems to dial (privately) into dedicated remote access concentrators. And from there gain access to their corporate network. Dial-up remote access was slow and cumbersome, but it was (ostensibly) private. When VPNs arrived, they allowed companies to leverage the public Internet and newly emerging broadband and wireless connectivity for remote access, which had enormous performance benefits.
SECURE ACCESS REQUIREMENTS TODAY
In the 17 years or so since VPNs became mainstream, there have been some obvious but significant changes that really altered the daily life for IT departments looking to roll out and manage secure access. The common thread in these changes impacting secure access boils down to scale (more users, devices, networks, applications, for longer periods of time). And the complexity that goes along with delivering scale along all those axes.
There has also been a fairly significant increase in what most companies consider acceptable risk, with a typical company being more open and willing to share information if it benefits the business. Connectivity and sharing almost always come before security.
User expectation for application performance, interface, and functionality has been profoundly impacted by the refinement of the “app” experience that has come with adoption of consumer mobile devices: business apps now need to look and perform like consumer apps. Secure access technology has to be delivered in a way that won’t drive users to ignore, work around, or actively defeat it.
In the secure access space, the move to a unified platform will greatly reduce the burden of administering secure access for a growing user/device population. While helping security operation teams meaningfully decrease the window of vulnerability by not letting hackers exploit the gaps between currently deployed security solutions. It may be tempting to continue simply adding capacity to existing secure access infrastructure because it works well enough as-is. But it won’t serve well in the long run.
When it comes down to it, there could ultimately be 2 sets of solutions:
- Platforms in the network / cloud (with host components available) that handle a range of network/cloud-centric functions that are close to universal for all devices.
- Individual solutions that are specific to single devices or classes of devices that involve integration with host/device operating systems and hardware.
The first set of solutions is the core secure access platform and needs to handle secure connectivity (VPN), authentication and access control, device management, and security for data and applications installed on devices and passing over the network. Then those secure access platform vendors will need to work with device hardware and OS vendors to provide deeper integration for common / popular devices.
Secure access has 2 primary goals. But in many cases, companies will focus on the access part and save the secure part for later. The move to a platform for secure access has significant operational benefits. Including saving time and money on management and giving users an easier and more consistent access experience. What’s more difficult to envision, but no less true, is that it also gives the fighting chance at shrinking the success/time gap between the attackers and companies’ infrastructure, devices and data.
We partner with Pulse Secure, a leading provider of consolidated offerings for access control, SSL VPN, and mobile device security solutions to both enterprises and service providers.
‘The Case for a Secure Access Platform’ taken from IHS Technology whitepaper commissioned by Pulse Secure entitled ‘The Case for a Secure Access Platform’