What is SECaaS? - Security as a Service

Definition

Security as a Service (SECaaS) is a component of cloud computing where applications run on a remote host server, but the service integrates with local IT infrastructure, including client devices. Usually, the cybersecurity services run in the cloud, but some enterprise environments combine local cybersecurity infrastructure with cloud-based resources. SECaaS has become mainstream for small and large businesses based on its advantages, including lower costs, better reliability, and increased threat monitoring. With cloud-based cybersecurity, companies can leverage advanced resources without having staff that must support and maintain backend systems.

How Does SECaaS Work?

As with any cloud model, SECaaS works by allowing users to provision resources on a third-party data center where services integrate with local network infrastructure. SECaaS works together with Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) as hardware can be provisioned in the cloud along with the right security tools in place. Cybersecurity resources are expensive, and often the staff that oversees are more costly, so organizations that work with cloud-based cybersecurity could save hundreds of thousands of dollars while still ensuring the IT environment is protected from cyber-threats in the wild.

The first step for an organization is to choose a provider. Several large providers offer advanced cybersecurity in the cloud, including Google Cloud Platform, Amazon Web Services, and Microsoft Azure. The business should audit and review their chosen cybersecurity solutions provider before subscribing. Once a solution is integrated, it’s difficult and time-consuming to unwind it and implement an alternative solution.

Cloud providers give users a central dashboard where cybersecurity infrastructure can be provisioned and deployed. Users can establish and manage anything from identity access controls, antivirus and anti-malware applications, storage encryption, monitoring, and email security. Organizations can deploy cybersecurity tools within minutes and configure each tool for the network environment’s unique requirements. Since providers only charge for resources used, costs are much lower than building internal cybersecurity tools in-house.

Organizations should test every service by creating a testing and staging environment via the cloud provider’s resources. Users can deploy cybersecurity defenses to these testing environments to ensure that the infrastructure integrates seamlessly with the production environment. Tools in the cloud work the same way as they would internally, except they run in the cloud.

Any resource provisioned in the cloud can be retired at any time from the central dashboard. The provider will ensure that the latest updates are available, but the organization is responsible for ensuring that cybersecurity resources are correctly configured and follow regulatory standards. This step usually requires expert audit and disaster recovery exercises, emulating a real-world attack. Auditing ensures that should an attack target the organization, resources in place to protect and monitor data are configured and run properly.

What are the Benefits of SECaaS?

Aside from cost and time benefits, SECaaS offers several more benefits for organizations of all sizes. Organizations with in-house infrastructure might wonder if it’s worth the effort and cost to switch to cloud-based services. Here are a few ways SECaaS benefits corporations:

  • Always work with the latest resources. Cloud providers have the latest technology available to customers. For organizations, it means no more costly updates and constantly chasing the latest technology to keep infrastructure optimized and secure.
  • Access to experts. The infrastructure in the cloud is supported by professionals hired by the provider. For smaller organizations, help can be found on forums and documentation. For a cost, larger organizations can secure experts who will assist with configurations and technical problems.
  • Faster deployment and provisioning. Instead of time-consuming installation and configuration that could take weeks, resources can be provisioned and deployed from a central dashboard within minutes.
  • Free up in-house resources and management. Organizations no longer need to expand on existing resources to make room for additional ones. They can instead free up real estate and infrastructure resources, outsource them to the cloud, and reassign unused infrastructure to new technology.
  • Cost savings. Cloud savings are enormous compared to keeping all cybersecurity resources in-house. Whether the organization is large or small, paying only for resources used reduces both upfront and maintenance costs.

Examples of SECaaS

After cloud services became popular, most organizations adopted some component of cloud infrastructure. Usually, security services are deployed along with the infrastructure to ensure data protection and integrity. There are plenty of real-world examples of the way SECaaS is used. The following are some examples of the way SECaaS is used today:

  • Implement disaster recovery. A disaster recovery plan is required by many of today’s regulatory standards. Without a plan, organizations could be fined thousands of dollars for violations. Cloud resources can be used as failover, backups, and recovery options should the organization suffer from a disaster and ensure the business follows regulatory requirements.
  • Continuous data monitoring. Monitoring is also a part of many regulatory standards. Monitoring data involves identifying threats and alerting administrators of suspicious activity. Suspicious activity includes low-privileged users requesting access to sensitive files, unusual traffic patterns across sensitive network segments, or an increase of failed authentication attempts. Monitoring alerts administrators that the organization could be under a targeted attack.
  • Prevent data loss. SECaaS resources can stop an ongoing attack before it causes data loss, which also affects the integrity of the organization.
  • Filter spam and malicious emails. SECaaS can be used to stop phishing and malware by quarantining suspicious emails for review instead of being sent to a user’s inbox where they could fall for the attack.
  • Scan for vulnerabilities. Before deploying a new application, SECaaS scanners will find potential vulnerabilities that could be exploited by attackers.
  • Manage antivirus and anti-malware updates. Automatically update anti-malware resources to keep antivirus and anti-malware applications capable of detecting the latest threats.

Before choosing a provider, it’s also important to verify that they have the right reporting in place. Reports are essential to ensure that resources are running properly and have optimal configurations for detecting threats.

Is SECaaS Always Cloud-Based?

Cloud-based resources can be used in conjunction with local on-premise infrastructure to create a hybrid network. Organizations can choose to use all cloud resources or keep a hybrid model to only use the resources unavailable locally. To answer the question, a SECaaS model can use a combination of local and cloud services in a hybrid environment.

Whether it’s to save money or protect data from an increased risk of threats, SECaaS has benefits for large and small organizations. Small businesses can build complex cybersecurity defenses from scratch, and large businesses can migrate more expensive cybersecurity resources to the cloud to save on IT costs.

Cybersecurity is a critical part of an organization’s success, and SECaaS is a tool that can help manage and reduce risk. Any provider platform should offer reporting and tools that make it easy to provision resources, but always remember to have an expert review and audit controls so that you know they’re configured properly. The best cybersecurity resources are rendered useless with the wrong configurations in place and can lead to a critical data breach.