SASE for Retail: Growing the Bottom Line

Retail and hospitality businesses prioritize delivering exceptional customer service and growing revenue. Just as their mission relies on a service-oriented staff and quality products, it... Read ›
SASE for Retail: Growing the Bottom Line Retail and hospitality businesses prioritize delivering exceptional customer service and growing revenue. Just as their mission relies on a service-oriented staff and quality products, it also requires secure and reliable connectivity. A high performing and secure network enables retailers to offer consistent and positive consumer interactions across online and physical stores around the world. This includes offering services such as e-commerce platforms, secure online payment processing, and digital customer support, while ensuring the protection of customer data and compliance with global privacy standards. Networking and Security Challenges Retailers are Facing Until recently, MPLS and VPNs were popular solutions of choice for many retailers. However, modern needs and threats require a new approach. Some of the new challenges retailers are dealing with include: Unstable Connectivity Across Locations - Retailers require fast, secure connections across various global locations. This includes stores, branches, data centers, headquarters, and more. A high-performing network enables them to communicate, check inventory status, and process credit card transactions, among other activities. However, traditional MPLS or VPNs are costly, with limitations in reliability and security, lacking the scalable model necessary for modern retailer growth. Security Threats and Risks - Retailers are dealing with organized threat actors and insider threats. According to the Verizon DBIR 2023, retailers are susceptible to ransomware, use of stolen credentials and even attackers embedding malicious code in checkout pages. In 2021, the average cost of a retail data breach was $3.27 million, per the IBM Cost of a Data Breach report. High Costs, Low Productivity - Retailers need to reduce expenses while improving efficiency. However, MPLS is pricey, VPNs are complex, and using the public Internet often leads to performance issues due to ISPs prioritizing cost over quality. Complex Tech and Administrative Management -  Retailers need high-performing and secure systems, to support business platforms and customer-facing needs like self-checkout. However, handling the tech stack—procurement, management, updates—is complicated, and transferring services to the cloud can be as well. The Solution to Retail Challenges: SASE SASE (Secure Access Service Edge) is a network architecture that converges security services and networking capabilities into a single cloud service. SASE represents a shift in the way enterprises handle networking and security, moving away from traditional, hardware-based models to a cloud-native, as-a-service model. This provides organizations with more high-performing, scalable and secure networking solutions, which are simpler to use and manage. [boxlink link=""] SASE as a Gradual Deployment: The Various Paths to SASE | Get it Now[/boxlink] SASE answer retails challenges by providing: Reliable Global Connectivity Rather than using MPLS or other networking solutions, SASE provides built-in SD-WAN. SD-WAN ensures reliable connectivity via commodity broadband links and 4G/5G wireless connectivity. Globally, traffic is routed over a global private backbone with QoS bandwidth prioritization policies, TCP acceleration and packet-loss mitigation, to reduce latency, packet loss, and jitter. Enhanced and Comprehensive Security SASE provides holistic, full-stack security including FWaaS, CASB, DLP, SWG and ZTNA, within a unified, cloud-native service. This ensures access policies are applied, wi-fi is filtered, and retailers maintain data sovereignty and PCI compliance. Cost-effective and Productivity Boosting SASE offers an alternative to the costly, inflexible, and capacity-limited MPLS networks, as well as the unreliable Internet, reducing the cost per megabit. In addition, performance is enhanced, ensuring data flow to both on-site and cloud-based applications is optimized to its fullest potential. From a business standpoint, fast and effective communication allows operations to run more smoothly, enhancing sales. Quick and Simple Deployment SASE simplifies the process of linking multiple sites, regardless of their size, through a straightforward, single client or socket that's effortless to set up. This eliminates the necessity for numerous devices and, consequently, makes managing the network easier. In addition, traffic flows directly to a network of cloud-native PoPs within the SASE framework, which can easily integrate with public cloud services in just a few steps. This network grants IT departments visibility into the flow of network traffic. Moreover, the whole setup is designed to scale effectively while remaining economically viable. For ongoing operations, an easy-to-understand UI and single management portal allow for easy and efficient management. Conclusion SASE provides retailers with connectivity and security that doesn’t add to complexity, administrative burdens, or expenses. On the contrary, SASE allows retailers to reduce disruptions and offer a positive customer experience that will boost sales. This is achieved through the cloud's agility and flexibility, advanced security features and management simplicity across sites and locations. Learn more here.

3 Things CISOs Can Immediately Do with Cato

Wherever you are in your SASE or SSE journey, it can be helpful knowing what other CISOs are doing once they’ve implemented these platforms. Getting... Read ›
3 Things CISOs Can Immediately Do with Cato Wherever you are in your SASE or SSE journey, it can be helpful knowing what other CISOs are doing once they've implemented these platforms. Getting started with enhanced security is a lot easier than you might think. With Cato’s security services being delivered from a scalable cloud-native architecture at multiple global points of presence, the value is immediate. In this blog post, we bring the top three things you, as a CISO, can do with Cato. From visibility to real-time security to data sovereignty, Cato makes it easy to create consistent policies, enable zero trust network access, and investigate security and networking issues all in one place. To read more details about each of these steps, understand the inner workings of Cato’s SASE/SSE and to see what you would be able to view in Cato’s dashboards, you can read the ebook “The First 3 Things CISOs Do When Starting to Use Cato", which this blog post is based on, here. Now let’s dive into the top three capabilities and enhancements CISOs gain from Cato: 1. Comprehensive Visibility With Cato, CISOs achieve complete visibility into all activity, once traffic flows through the Cato SASE Cloud. This includes security events, networking and connectivity events for all users and locations connected to the service. This information can be viewed in the Cato Management Application: The events page shows the activity and enables filtering, which supports investigation and incident correlation. The Cloud Apps Dashboard presents a holistic and interactive view of application usage, enabling the identification of Shadow IT. Cato’s Apps Catalog provides an assessment of each application’s profile and a risk score, enabling CISOs to evaluate applications and decide if and how to enable the app and which policies to configure. Application analytics show the usage of a specific application, enabling CISOs or practitioners to identify trends for users, sites and departments. This helps enforce zero trust, design policies and identify compromised applications. Comprehensive visibility supports day-to-day management as well as the ability to easily report to the board on application usage, risk level and blocked threats. It also supports auditing needs. [boxlink link=""] Feedback from CISOs: The First Three Things to do When Starting to Use Cato | Download the eBook [/boxlink] 2. Consistent Real-Time Threat Prevention Cato’s SSE 360’s cloud-native architecture enables protecting all traffic with no computing limitation. Multiple security updates are carried out every day. The main services include: Real Time Threat Prevention Engines - FWaaS, SWG, IPS, Next-Generation Anti-Malware and more are natively a part of Cato’s SASE Platform, detecting and blocking threats, and always up-to-date. Cato’s threats dashboard - A high-level view of all threat activity, including users, threat types and threat source countries, for investigation or policy change considerations.  MITRE ATT&CK dashboard -  A new dashboard that aligns logged activity with the MITRE ATT&CK framework, enabling you to see the bigger picture of an attack or risk. 24x7 MDR service provided by Cato’s SOC - A service that leverages ML to identify anomalies and Cato’s security experts to investigate them. 3. Data Sovereignty Cato provides DLP and CASB capabilities to support data governance. DLP prevents sensitive information, like source code, PCI data, or PII data, from being uploaded or downloaded. The DLP dashboard shows how policies are configured and performing, enabling the finetuning of DLP rules and helping identify data exfiltration attempts or the need for user training. CASB controls how users interact with SaaS applications and prevents users uploading data to third party services as well as establishing broader security standards based on compliance, native security features, and risk score Future Growth for CISOs CISOs who have adopted Cato’s SASE or SSE360 can readily expect future growth, since appliance deployment and supply chain constraints are no longer blockers for their progress. You can easily onboard new users and locations to gain visibility and protection and policy application. It’s also easy to add new functionalities and enable new policies, reducing the time to value for any new capability. With Cato, your company’s policies are consistently enforced and all your users and locations are protected from the latest threats. Read more details about each of these capabilities in the ebook “The First 3 Things CISOs Do When Starting to Use Cato" here.

The Path to SASE: A Project Planning Guide

Breaking Free from Legacy Constraints Enterprises often find themselves tethered to complex and inflexible network architectures that impede their journey towards business agility and operational... Read ›
The Path to SASE: A Project Planning Guide Breaking Free from Legacy Constraints Enterprises often find themselves tethered to complex and inflexible network architectures that impede their journey towards business agility and operational efficiency. Secure Access Service Edge, or SASE, a term coined by Gartner in 2019, defines a newer framework that converges enterprise networking and security point solutions into a single, secure, cloud-native, and globally distributed solution that secures all edges. SASE represents a strategic response to the changing needs and challenges of modern enterprises, delivering a secure, resilient, and optimized foundation essential to achieving the expected outcomes of digital transformation. But digital transformation can be hard to define in practice. It can be an iterative process of researching, planning, and evaluating what changes will yield the most benefit for your organization. This blog post provides a practical roadmap for SASE project planning, incorporating essential considerations and key recommendations that will help guide your path to a successful implementation, meeting the needs of your business now, and in the future. Let's take the first step. Start With the Stakeholders For a successful SASE migration, it's extremely beneficial to unite security and network operations teams (if such unity does not already exist). This collaboration ensures both the security and performance aspects of the network are considered. Appointing a neutral project leader is recommended – they'll ensure all requirements are met and communicated effectively. Take a tip from Gartner and engage owners of strategic applications, and workforce and branch office transformational teams. Collaboration is key, especially if there is a broader, company-wide digital transformation project in planning or in effect. Setting Sail: Defining Your SASE Objectives Your SASE project should include clear objectives tailored to the unique needs of your business. Common goals for a SASE implementation include facilitating remote work and access, supporting global operations, enabling Secure Direct Internet Access (DIA), optimizing cloud connectivity, consolidating vendors, and embracing a Zero Trust, least privilege strategy to safeguard your network and establish a robust security posture. Plan to align your network and security policies with evolving organizational needs and processes, ensuring full data visibility, control, and threat protection. Prioritize a consistent user experience, and foster digital dexterity with a cloud-delivered solution that can cater to anticipated and unexpected needs. Blueprinting Success: Gathering Requirements It's essential to identify the sites, users, and cloud resources that need connectivity and security. Plan not only for now but also for future growth to avoid disruptions later. Pay attention to your applications. Real-time apps like voice and video can suffer from quality loss. High Availability (HA) might also be a requirement for some of your sites. While most of HA responsibility lies with the SASE provider, there are steps your business can take to increase the resilience of site-based components. Map all Users Remote and mobile users who work from anywhere (WFA), are simply another edge. Ensuring a parallel experience to branch office peers across usability, security, and performance is crucial for these users. Map their locations to the PoPs offered by SASE providers, prioritizing proximity for minimized latency. Focus on SASE solutions hosting the security stack in PoPs where WFAs connect, eliminating the need to backhaul to the corporate datacenter, and supporting a single security policy for every user. This not only improves latency but also delivers a frictionless user experience. Map all Cloud Resources A vital component in SASE project planning is mapping all your cloud resources and applications (including SaaS applications), giving consideration to their physical locations in datacenters worldwide. The proximity of these datacenters to users directly affects latency and performance. Leading hosting companies and cloud platforms provide regional datacenters, allowing applications to be hosted closer to users. Identifying hosting locations and aligning them with a SASE solution’s PoPs in the cloud, that act as on-ramps to SaaS and other services, enhances application performance and provides a better user experience. Plan for the Future: SASE’s Promise of Adaptability Your network needs to be a growth enabler for your organization, adapting swiftly to planned and unknown future needs. Future-proofing your network is fundamental to avoiding building an inflexible solution that doesn't meet evolving requirements. Typical events could include expanding into new locations which will require secure networking, M&A activity that may involve integrating disparate IT systems, or moving more applications to the cloud. Legacy architectures like MPLS offer challenges such as sourcing, integration, deployment, and management of multiple point products, often taking months or longer to turn up new capabilities. In contrast, a cloud-delivered SASE solution can be turned up in days or weeks, saving time and alleviating resource constraints. Remember, if you are planning to move more applications to the cloud, it's important to identify SASE solutions with a distribution of PoPs that geographically align to where your applications are hosted, ensuring optimal application performance. [boxlink link=""] How to Plan a SASE Project | Get the Whitepaper [/boxlink] SASE Shopping 101: Writing an RFI Once requirements have been identified, send out a Request for Information (RFI) to prospective SASE vendors. Ensure they grasp your business requirements, understand your goals, network resources, topology, and security stack, and can align their solution architecture with your specific needs. Dive deep into solution capabilities, customer and technical support models, and services. The RFI, in essence, sets the stage for informed decision-making before embarking on a Proof of Concept (PoC). Step-by-Step: Planning a Gradual Deployment With SASE, you can embrace a phased approach to implementation. Whether migrating from MPLS to SD-WAN, optimizing global connectivity, securing branch Internet access, accelerating cloud connectivity, or addressing remote access challenges, a gradual deployment helps mitigate risks. Start small, learn from initial deployments, and scale with confidence. Presenting the SASE Proposition: Board Approval Getting buy-in from the Board is essential for network transformation projects. Position SASE as a strategic enabler for IT responsiveness, business growth, and enhanced security. Articulate its long-term financial impact, emphasizing ROI. Leverage real-world data and analyst insights to highlight the tangible benefits of SASE. Unifying Forces: Building Consensus Securing sponsorship from networking and security teams is critical. Highlight SASE’s strategic value across the enterprise, showcasing its ability to simplify complexity, reduce security risks, and streamline IT efforts. A successful SASE implementation facilitates initiatives like cloud migration, remote work, UCaaS, and global expansion, and empowers security professionals to mitigate risk effectively – essentially allowing them to meet the requirements of their roles. By simplifying protection schemes, enhancing network visibility, improving threat detection and response, and unifying security policies, SASE alleviates common security challenges effortlessly. The SASE Test Drive: Running a Successful PoC Before committing to a specific SASE solution, embark on a Proof of Concept (PoC). Keep it simple; focus on a few vendors, one or two specific use cases, and limit the PoC to a 30 or 60-day timeline. Test connectivity (across different global locations), application performance, and user experience. Evaluate how well the solution integrates with legacy equipment if that is to remain after SASE implementation. Remember, not all SASE solutions are created equal, so you'll need to document successes and challenges, and determine metrics for side-by-side vendor comparisons – laying the groundwork for an informed decision. The Final Frontier: Selecting your SASE Armed with comprehensive planning, stakeholder buy-in, and PoC insights, it’s time to make the decision. In determining the right fit for your organization, choose the SASE solution that aligns seamlessly with your business goals and objectives, offers scalability, agility, robust security, and demonstrates a clear ROI. In Conclusion By now, you've gained valuable insights into the essential requirements and considerations for planning a successful SASE project. This blog serves as your initial guide on your journey to SASE. Recognize that enterprise needs vary, making each project unique. Cato Networks’ whitepaper “How to Plan a SASE Project” has been an invaluable resource for enterprise IT leaders, offering deep and detailed insights that empower strategic decision-making. For a more comprehensive exploration into SASE project planning, download the whitepaper here.