The Critical Role of Enterprise Browsers in a SASE Framework

May 02, 2024
7 minutes
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From hybrid work models to AI assistance, today’s workplace is all about maximizing productivity. Modern organizations are transitioning to SaaS apps, enabling work from anywhere and on any device and relying on third parties and contractors to maintain flexibility and stay productive.

In a recent survey, we found that these trends reflect the ever-evolving landscape of corporate security, where the browser has emerged as the new workspace. In fact, we found that employees spend nearly 90% of their workday in the web browser, accessing work apps and personal sites. See our summary of The State of Security in the Modern Organization to learn more.

This paradigm shift necessitates a reevaluation of traditional security architectures that did not focus on the browser, which is now a prime target for attackers. Nearly 100% of organizations in the survey reported browser-based attacks occurring across all devices in the last 12 months.

While secure access service edge (SASE) quickly proved valuable as it offered a faster and more cost-effective way of securing an organization's network, the browser becoming the core workspace requires extending SASE to new realms.

Prisma Access Browser launched today by Palo Alto Networks as part of SASE 3.0, is the only enterprise browser that unlocks the power of SASE and delivers it to any device in minutes. This blog delves into the pivotal role of enterprise browsers within the SASE framework, underscoring their importance in modern security architectures.

>> Download “The State of Security in the Modern Organization" infographic to learn more about the missing layer in corporate security.

The Browser: Friend or Foe?

The digital transformation era has spotlighted the browser as the primary workspace and central productivity hub, enabling millions around the world to work seamlessly from multiple devices and apps.

However, this convenience comes with increased security vulnerabilities, especially when employees and contractors are able to access corporate resources from unmanaged devices. The traditional network-based security model is no longer sufficient in this context, necessitating a more flexible and comprehensive approach that covers the browser and leverages its pivotal position to provide thorough, context-aware security.

An Enterprise Browser as the SASE Game Changer

SASE provides flexible, consistent security by delivering a comprehensive and connected range of security services. By converging network security functions, such as secure web gateways (SWG), cloud access security brokers (CASB), and Zero Trust network access (ZTNA), with software-defined wide area network (SD-WAN) capabilities, SASE offers a unified solution that secures access to resources irrespective of user, app, or location.

The essence of SASE lies in its ability to apply consistent security policies across all access points to help mitigate risks associated with the hybrid workforce. At the heart of the SASE architecture, the enterprise browser serves as a critical component, extending Zero Trust security principles to any device accessing corporate resources on any web application. Unlike commercial browsers, enterprise browsers are designed with built-in security and management features.

Prisma Access Browser is granular and powerful yet simple to manage. Offering unparalleled visibility and control over all web traffic, it includes the ability to enforce highly granular security policies, monitor user activities, and protect against browser-focused threats coming from the web, extensions, or compromised devices. Furthermore, the centralized management capabilities offered by Prisma Access Browser simplify operations by providing security teams with a comprehensive view of web activities across the organization.

For the first time, you can now enhance security while reducing friction. In a world where productivity is key, if you don’t nail the user experience, the users will fight security instead of embracing it.

In our recent survey, 98% of organizations that banned bring your own device (BYOD) said employees violated this policy. As the browser is the main accelerator of productivity, placing security in the browser allows us to provide a seamless user experience and elevated performance compared to alternative solutions.

The Advantage of a SASE-native Enterprise Browser

Choosing a SASE-native enterprise browser amplifies its security benefits. This integration facilitates seamless enforcement of security policies at the browser level, ensuring the protection of corporate data accessed on web applications from both managed and unmanaged devices.

Applying context-aware protection, you can set granular controls at the most critical point, where user and data meet. A SASE-native enterprise browser delivers SASE via the browser in minutes, reducing the cost of securing unmanaged devices and providing a superior user experience.

Prisma Access Browser is the only enterprise browser natively integrated into a SASE solution. Palo Alto Networks is the only Leader in the 2023 Gartner® Magic Quadrant™ for Single-Vendor SASE, and we believe that the synergy between Prisma SASE and Prisma Access Browser not only bolsters the organization's security posture but also supports the dynamic needs of the modern productive workforce.

Installed in minutes on any device without requiring admin privileges, Prisma Access Browser delivers AI-powered SASE in the browser while maintaining the user experience users know and love.

Furthermore, the granular visibility and control offered by Prisma Access Browser across all devices empower organizations to protect their corporate resources more effectively, thereby strengthening their overall security.

Unleash the Power of the Browser

Enhancing SASE with a natively integrated enterprise browser redefines the browser's role in corporate security strategies. By leveraging the browser as a secure access point, organizations can unlock new use cases that were previously unfeasible, including the secure enablement of BYOD, third parties, and contractors. The browser allows organizations to extend SASE to any device in minutes.

What’s more, delivering security via the browser enables other use cases such as secure use of GenAI tools, supporting undecryptable traffic, protecting accounts against takeover, and many more.

Securely enabling these business use cases is nothing less than revolutionary. Consider the rapid emergence of generative AI, which is now available on any employee’s browser tab.

Today, 75% of employees are looking to automate work tasks and use generative AI for work communications. Thirty percent use generative AI daily, making controlling and gaining visibility into these browser-native activities difficult.

Using GenAI without security in mind can lead to severe implications such as data leakage, malware infiltration, and risky use of unsanctioned AI. Integrating security in the browser allows you to control the way employees leverage these tools to allow the perfect balance between productivity and security.

Another critical use case is the ability to detect and block cyberattacks through encrypted traffic.

According to Google, 95% of traffic is encrypted. While encryption is generally good for security since it makes it harder for attackers to steal data, the same encryption poses a challenge to security teams in providing control.

To secure encrypted traffic, security teams must configure decryption policies and controls, ensuring they align with end-user privacy rules and the apps. Despite these efforts, protocols and app traffic are still not decryptable by nature, making malicious and sensitive files harder to detect. Prisma Access Browser sees all web and SaaS traffic without requiring decryption, allowing you to easily log and control all events for threat hunting, forensics, and data loss.

The integration of enterprise browsers within the SASE architecture represents a pivotal shift in how organizations approach security in the digital age. Prisma SASE 3.0 is the only SASE solution that offers a natively integrated enterprise browser, setting a new standard for SASE solutions. This combination addresses the challenges posed by the modern workspace and paves the way for innovative security practices, which enhance user experience and lower costs and complexity.

As organizations prioritize agility and productivity, the adoption of a SASE-native enterprise browser is instrumental to ensuring secure and efficient access to resources in the ever-connected world.

>> Learn more about “The State of Security in the Modern Organization" in this new infographic.

Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product or service depicted in its research publications, and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors with the highest ratings or other designation. Gartner research publications consist of the opinions of Gartner’s research organization and should not be construed as statements of fact. Gartner disclaims all warranties, expressed or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.


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