What is Security as a Service? A Definition of SECaaS, Benefits, Examples, and More

by Jeff Aldorisio on Wednesday September 12, 2018

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Learn about security as a service (SECaaS) in Data Protection 101, our series on the fundamentals of information security.

With the advent of the cloud, there is absolutely nothing about your IT infrastructure that other people or companies cannot do for you. More and more companies are relying on services, such as Amazon AWS, to get their required computing and storage resources to run their websites and applications. Others rely on hypervisors and other technologies to get high-level APIs from online services, or get an entire platform complete with operating systems, middleware, servers, and databases from a third-party provider.

Still, others rely on third-party providers for software and applications. The whole as-a-service environment has made it faster, easier, and more affordable for companies to get their IT demands fulfilled without having to come up with their own infrastructure or invest in developing, maintaining, and creating these resources. Over time, we have seen just about anything being offered as a service, From backends to content, logging, disaster recovery, and storage, services have taken over. Today, it’s even possible to have security delivered as a service.

A Definition of Security as a Service

Security as a service (SECaaS) is an outsourced service wherein an outside company handles and manages your security. At its most basic, the simplest example of security as a service is using an anti-virus software over the Internet.

With security as a service, security solutions are no longer delivered locally, where your IT department installs virus protection software, spam filtering software, and other security tools on each machine or on the network or server in your workplace, keeping the software up-to-date or telling them to use it. The old way of doing things is also expensive; you have upfront costs for hardware as well as continuing costs for licenses to allow you to use the software. Instead, security as a service allows you to use the same tools using only a web browser, making it direct and affordable.

Benefits of Security as a Service

There are a lot of advantages to using a security as a service offering. These include:

1. You work with the latest and most updated security tools available. For anti-virus tools to be effective and useful, they need to work with the latest virus definitions, allowing them to stomp out threats, even the newest ones. With security as a service, you’re always using tools that are updated with the latest threats and options. This means no more worrying that your users are not updating their anti-virus software and keeping other software up to date to ensure the latest security patches are in use. The same case goes for updating and maintaining spam filters.

2. You get the best security people working for you. IT security experts are at your beck and call, and they may have more experience and a better skillset than anybody on your IT team.

3. Faster provisioning. The beauty of as-a-service offerings is that you can give your users access to these tools instantly. SECaaS offerings are provided on demand, so you can scale up or down as the need arises, and you can do so with speed and agility.

4. You get to focus on what's more important for your organization. Using a web interface or having access to a management dashboard can make it easier for your own IT team to administer and control security processes within the organization.

5. Makes in-house management simpler. If you have protected data, it is not enough to just keep it secure. You should know when a user accesses this data when he or she does not have any legitimate business reason to access it.

5. Save on costs. You do not have to buy hardware or pay for software licenses. Instead, you can replace the upfront capital with variable operating expense, usually at a discounted rate compared to the upfront costs.

Go Deeper

Software as a Service (SaaS)

Examples of Security as a Service Offerings

Security as a service encompasses security software that are delivered on the cloud, as well as in-house security management that is offered by a third party. Some of the solutions that you can avail touch on several categories, as outlined by the Cloud Security Alliance:

• Disaster recovery and business continuity. Tools that help you make sure that your IT and operations are back in no time when disaster strikes.
• Continuous monitoring. Tools that allow you to manage risks continually by monitoring the security processes that are in place.
• Data loss prevention. Tools that protect, monitor, and verify the security of all of your data, whether they are in storage or in use.
• Email security. Protects your business from phishing, spam, and malicious attachments.
• Encryption. Makes your data unreadable unless it is decoded using the right numerical and cryptographic ciphers.
• Identity and access management. Provides authentication, access intelligence, and identify verification & user management tools.
• Intrusion management. Detects unusual events and behaviors using pattern recognition technology. These tools not only detect intrusions; they also help you manage them.
• Network security. Tools and services that help you manage network access and distribute, protect, and monitor network services.
• Security assessment. Audits the current security measures you have in place to see if these are compliant with industry standards.
• Security information and event management. Tools that aggregate log and event information, which can be analyzed in real time to help you detect possible anomalies and intrusion.
• Vulnerability scanning. Detects any vulnerability in your network or IT infrastructure.
• Web security. Gives you protection for online applications that are accessed by the public in real time.

What to Look for in SECaaS Providers

If you’re thinking about utilizing the services of a SECaaS provider, there are a few important things to look for:

1. Interoperable. 
Avoid vendor lock-in and have more flexibility by making sure that the solutions you choose have no interoperability issues.

2. Low TCO. 
The total cost of ownership (TCO) is a good criterion in choosing a SECaaS provider. Read the fine print and be sure that you get the language right, or else you might end up paying more with your chosen package than a similar one with a nominally higher advertised rate.

3. Reporting.
Your chosen solutions should have a reporting mechanism that would allow you to see major security events, attack logs, and other important data. While the primary benefit of SECaaS is having a third party to manage the full security picture, you still want the visibility option.

Security as a Service is becoming an increasingly popular option among enterprises and SMBs alike. The growing adoption of SECaaS is driven by a shortage of security resources – including qualified infosec professionals as well as skills and tools as a whole – coupled with the ever-expanding threat landscape. For many companies today, the idea of outsourcing the management, implementation, and oversight of the complex realm of security simply makes sense, and it’s proving a cost-effective investment for companies that take advantage of it.

Tags: Data Protection 101