Jeff Schwartz, CISSP, is the VP of Engineering, North America, for global cyber security company, Check Point Software. He manages a team of 200~ engineers across multi-disciplinary fields, and he’s responsible for all security engineering resources across a $1 billion portion of the business in North America.

Over his 20-year career in cyber security, Jeff has consulted, designed, and overseen the implementation of the largest network security deployments across all industries, and throughout both the Fortune 500 and major government agencies.

In this interview, Jeff Schwartz provides outstanding insights into the evolution of the Secure Access Service Edge (SASE). How has SASE continued to evolve across the past 12 months? Is SASE just an overhyped trend? How can C-levels adjust assumptions around SASE? What does the future of network security look like? Push the envelope with your security. Leverage these game-changing answers to raise the bar within your organization.

Also—Be sure to check out our previous SASE interview featuring Jeff Schwartz. Here.

In the past few months, what has changed in the SASE space?

Customers are accelerating the exploration process of viable solutions for remote workforce modernization. On the vendor side, there’s an arms race to enter the SASE market. Because SASE encompasses such a broad range of technologies, I think that that’s created a lot of noise for customers in terms of differentiating the important characteristics from the really essential priorities of completing a remote workforce modernization.

Where are most organizations in relation to SASE adoption at this point?

They are still in exploration mode. While they’re still going through evaluations of vendor alternatives, there’s also a bit of an education phase as they try to learn more about the differentiating characteristics between the different vendors. 

What are the most substantive business arguments in favor of SASE?

The last 15 months that we’ve been in lockdown–There’s really no greater demonstration of need. As they say, necessity is the mother of invention. Because organizations have been forced to accommodate work from home situations and to promote accessibility options for increasingly diverse user groups, organizations have had to scramble to accommodate those populations in conjunction with the diversity of technologies and devices that those user populations may be accessing from.

Should SASE remain top-of-mind for CIOs, CTOs and CISOs? If so, why?

Certainly, because extending the security that lives at the traditional perimeter of their data centers to end user populations that are now accessing resources that 1) may not live in those data centers but 2) are being accessed on remote devices and remote assets that are beyond the company’s direct control, can potentially introduce very significant security exposure. So, CISOs, CTO, CIOs all need to heavily weigh what the trade-offs and priorities are in considering various SASE solutions while enabling the business to move quickly.

What should organizations look for in a SASE vendor?

I think the biggest differentiating characteristic that we see between the vendors is the qualitative elements of preventive control that live on these endpoints. Providing remote access is kind of a foundational element. But once we’re beyond that foundational element of access, the biggest differentiating characteristic is the extent to which there’s qualitative advantage of providing endpoint security controls on these remote user populations. Most access solutions offer very little preventative controls. This is a large gap for many organizations, especially in light of recent security incidents that were initiated via endpoint or user compromise.

If/when deploying SASE, is there anything that admins should pay special attn. to?

I think that a lot of SASE solutions are focused on PC and Mac users. I think there are two areas that are important, which are related, but not sufficiently covered by many SASE vendors.

One is mobile devices; iOS and Android devices. Many SASE deployments do not adequately cover mobile access and security, but from an user expectation perspective, there are very similar expectations of application and service delivery from mobile devices versus traditional compute, like laptops and PCs. So that’s one area.

The second is identity access management (IAM). Privilege access is an important characteristic that really needs to be integrated into the solution. Many solutions integrate with the identity providers, but the nature of that integration is critical to supporting a user and device populations that may not be part of the organization and may represent third-party resources or third-party access.

 In looking ahead at digital transformations and SASE, what do you forecast?

So, I anticipate an acceleration of two things. One is increased technology adoption among customers in this space and two is the consolidation of functionality. Having separate endpoint security like CrowdStrike or Tanium parallel with the remote access solution is not going to be scalable in the foreseeable future. Managing diversity of these technologies independently on varying user populations and asset classes slows down an organizations’ ability to adopt change and roll out new technologies and new solutions. So, I anticipate continued consolidation, even beyond what SASE currently purports and an increased need for better endpoint security controls.