SASE vs. SD-WAN; Which One Do You Need to Prevent Cyber Incidents Caused by Remote Work?

In August 2022, LastPass disclosed that a cyber breach occurred. The source code of a password manager distributor was stolen, and as a result, the system was exposed to hackers. The incident was possible due to the developer’s compromised account.

What followed was a string of repeated attacks. The second LastPass breach happened in November 2022. During this attack, customers’ password vaults were stolen.

In February 2023, the company shared the latest findings of an ongoing investigation. They confirmed that criminals targeted a home device of an employee in a developer role to steal credentials and initiate the second attack.

In May 2023, the cybersecurity company Dragos also suffered an attack due to remote work. The consequences of the attack, however, weren’t as severe. 

How did that attack occur?

The hacker exploited a remote employee’s account amid their onboarding process. They intercepted the worker’s email to steal credentials and attempted to get deeper access into the company’s systems.

Because of limited role privileges, the threat actors didn’t get access to financial systems or manage to deploy ransomware successfully. However, they did succeed in downloading client reports.

According to CISO’s worldwide survey, companies that rely on telecommuting were more likely to suffer a cyber incident in 2022. More than half of businesses that practiced either hybrid or fully remote work were victimized because of it.

Security, for both the user who connects to the main network and cloud-based applications, is integral for any company that relies on remote work. And so is fast connectivity.

If you research how to protect remote workers and businesses without sacrificing fast connectivity, you’ll come across both SASE and SD-WAN.

What do SASE and SD-WAN involve, and which one is most suitable for modern businesses that have remote workers and multi-cloud structures?

Let’s find out.

What Is SASE All About?

SASE stands for Secure Access Service Edge. This is an umbrella term for the networking and security solution that gathers these tools within a single interface:

The key functionality of these solutions is to prevent either malicious traffic or block illicit access. Combining all of them, SASE covers and continually tracks the entire attack surface — including the cloud and endpoint devices.

Furthermore, the SASE solution integrates the capabilities of SD-WAN. SASE combines Secure Service Edge (SSE) with SD-WAN to achieve not only better connectivity but also to better security across the entire company.

Any capability that SD-WAN has, the SASE solution will have its integrated functionality as well.

As a result of having these capabilities within a single platform, employees can securely and rapidly connect to the main network of a business, no matter where they are in the world — at their homes or one of the branch locations of a company.

What Is an SD-WAN Component?

Software-Defined Wide Area Networking or SD-WAN was designed to replace outdated WAN. To improve the performance of traditional WAN technology, it replaced the MPLS-reliant tech with SDN. Let’s break that down.

Multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) is the technology used for networking and rerouting the traffic from the main data center of a business to the locations within branches. To do so, it relies on labels.

Two decades ago, MPLS technology was the norm for companies. Today, it’s outdated because it’s more sufficient to send traffic directly to the cloud. It also has limited bandwidth and is more expensive to deploy.

Software Defined Networking (SDN) chooses the most suitable path for traffic, depending on the application that sent the request. For instance, if the app is video-based, it’ll prioritize the top route to decrease lag.

Most businesses replaced MPLS with the more cost-effective and flexible option, SD-WAN technology. 


Both SASE and SD-WAN solutions are designed to administer Wide Area Networks (WAN) to increase security and improve overall networking. 

WAN is necessary for remote and branch location workers that want to connect to the main network of the company, the internet, or cloud-based applications.

The main shortcoming of SD-WAN is that it prioritizes networking over security. Therefore, some of the SD-WAN solutions will have integrated security, and others won’t. SASE, on the other hand, focuses on both.

SASE is much more suitable for larger enterprises or businesses that need flexibility in their infrastructure as they scale. Also, it’s integral for companies that have remote workers who connect to the company’s network from their homes.

To sum up, both SD-WAN and SASE are:

  • Compatible with versatile cloud environments and WAN connections — SD-WAN is also available in physical form
  • Designed to improve networking and security — SD-WAN puts more of an emphasis on networking

However, SASE is the answer to a major limitation of SD-WAN, technology that is not equipped to keep pace with the ever-increasing security needs of companies today. 

Since it’s cloud-based and available as a service, SASE can be scaled with the growing needs of a company.

Is SASE a Strong SD-WAN Alternative?

SASE is more suitable for modern businesses whose infrastructure grows in complexity every year.

For instance, those are organizations that have been adding new cloud technology to their premises, creating branches in several new locations all over the world, and employing new workers worldwide.

As a business grows with cloud technology, security has to scale with the increased number of remote employees and added cloud environments.

Which solution is more suitable for you depends on the type of business and the infrastructure within which you do work.

SD-WAN wasn’t designed for complex multi-cloud environments and has limited security options.

SASE was built with both flexibility of security and improving the performance of the network in mind. The platform is better equipped to solve the security pain points that businesses face today.

Abhishek Kumar Jha
Abhishek Kumar Jha
Knowledge is Power


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