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Risk Management

5 Steps to Assessing Risk Profiles of Third-Party SSE Platforms

It’s crucial to thoroughly assess the risk profiles of various SSE platforms and weigh their suitability against their organization’s risk tolerance before adopting SSE.

Deep Packet Inspection

Shifting the approach to cybersecurity from multi-vendor security tools sprawl to a converged Secure Services Edge (SSE) model with a clear migration path to SASE is a step in the right direction. This move not only fortifies the modern virtual organizational perimeter but also eliminates the supply chain attack risk that is multiplied by each third-party tool or service added to the organizational portfolio. Having said that, SSE is no silver bullet. The platform itself can introduce loopholes and vulnerabilities. Therefore, it’s crucial for businesses to thoroughly assess the risk profiles of various SSE platforms and weigh their suitability against their organization’s risk tolerance before adopting SSE.

A risk profile is essentially a snapshot of the potential risks a vendor, tool, or platform, like SSE, introduces to the partnering or adopting organization. Evaluating risk profiles beforehand enables businesses to make an informed decision when choosing an SSE platform. It also helps them to calculate and effectively manage the risks that the SSE platform would inevitably introduce. Failure to accurately assess the SSE risk profile can result in operational disruption, financial losses, increased regulatory scrutiny, reputational damages, and other regulatory repercussions. To avoid such consequences, here’s how organizations can holistically evaluate the risk profiles of different SSE platforms to make the right choice.

Check Certifications and Compliance

Different industries and regions have varying regulatory compliance requirements. The SSE platform should inarguably be in compliance with all applicable regulations, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Additionally, it’s important to look for relevant cybersecurity certifications, like the NIST Cybersecurity Framework or ISO 27001, to ensure that the platform adheres to the industry standards for information security.

One way to gain an objective view of the platform’s security practices and validate its cybersecurity capabilities is to check for third-party audits and assessments. These independent evaluations serve as a testimony to the platform’s commitment to securing sensitive and valuable data.

Evaluate Reputation and History

Before making a decision, research thoroughly about the market reputation of the SSE platforms under consideration. Reviews, case studies, and customer testimonials can reveal a lot about the strengths and weaknesses of a platform. It’s important to make sure that the platform has served different industry verticals for a substantial time. Platforms with a proven track record in delivering reliable coverage are more likely to have matured their cyber preparedness.

During the vetting phase, don’t forget to ask questions about the formal incident response plan and procedures. Learn how the platform mitigated past attempts at service disruptions and data breaches, and analyze how the platform improved over the years in handling similar incidents. Responses to these key queries can reveal quite a bit about a platform’s existing security posture and future outlook.

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Assess Data Security Measures

Examine the data security measures that the SSE platform implements. The platform should offer encryption for data both in transit and at rest. Strong access controls, such as role-based access, two-factor authentication, and identity and access management, should be in place to prevent unauthorized access. Data loss prevention features should be available to protect against accidental or malicious data leaks. Finally, robust data backup protocols for redundancy and disaster recovery are also paramount. Ensure that the platform aligns with your organization’s data protection standards and is capable of securing private and sensitive information.

Evaluate Service-Level Agreements

Review the SLAs associated with the SSE platform. These include the uptime guarantees, service performance standards, and the commitment to issue resolution and post-incident support. Strong SLAs can mitigate risks associated with potential security incidents and service interruptions. Disaster recovery plans and processes should be in place to address catastrophic events like natural disasters or cyberattacks. The platform’s ability to withstand unexpected circumstances is essential for guaranteeing continuous security for the organization, and a robust SLA can uphold the platform to agreed-upon commitments.

Ensure Commitment to Continuous Improvement

Security vulnerabilities or loopholes can emerge at any time, so it’s crucial to evaluate how the SSE platform handles security updates and patch management. Ensure that the vendor has a clear and proactive approach to staying ahead of the threat landscape and addressing potential vulnerabilities. This includes threat intelligence gathering and sharing, timely release of patches and updates to address known vulnerabilities, as well as clear communication to customers regarding necessary actions on their part.

Adopting SSE can be a strategic move for enhancing your organization’s network and information security. However, it’s equally important to recognize and manage the risks associated with introducing a new platform to your IT ecosystem. By following these five steps to assess the risk profiles of third-party SSE platforms, organizations can rest assured that their environment remains secure and resilient as new threats, regulations, and security tools and updates emerge. Establishing and assessing risk profiles beforehand can minimize risks and maximize the benefits of SSE adoption.

Written By

Etay Maor is Senior Director of Security Strategy for Cato Networks. Previously, he was Chief Security Officer for IntSights and held senior security positions at IBM and RSA Security's Cyber Threats Research Labs. An adjunct professor at Boston College, he holds a BA in computer science and a MA in counter-terrorism and cyber terrorism from Reichman University (IDC Herzliya), Tel Aviv.

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