SD-WAN, or software-defined wide area network, was introduced in 2014 and has gained popularity in recent years due to the rise of remote work. Organizations must protect their networks and information technology systems from threats that target their new work environment.
VPNs used to be the primary method for securing distant workstations in order to construct private tunnels that enable secure access to data and programs at the office. Nonetheless, the increasing number of remote workers brings additional issues, particularly in terms of scalability, manageability, performance, and cost. VPNs necessitate a physical device or a virtual machine at the headquarters, which can become prohibitively expensive at scale. Similarly, third-party VPN solutions are priced by seat, which can also be fairly costly.
In order to achieve telecommuting agreements that are more cost-effective and manageable, corporations are investigating new solutions. VPNs are still widely used, and their capabilities and provisioning methods have evolved to meet contemporary demands. However, it is prudent to investigate alternative choices.
Understanding SD-WAN security
SD-WAN security involves securing networks and connections that are no longer protected by perimeter-based solutions. It necessitates more suitable defenses when utilizing SaaS services, as branch offices already link directly to the public internet, bypassing the guarded corporate LAN.
Also, SD-WAN security is less frequently covered in consumer cybersecurity and corporate technology blogs. In fact, this is the first post on this site to discuss SD-WAN. Many unwittingly face a variety of obstacles when attempting to secure a software-defined WAN. It is essential to be aware of issues and know how to successfully address them.
Visibility is one of the greatest issues in SD-WAN protection. The application traffic in an SD-WAN configuration achieves great performance by traversing the optimal path. This indicates that malware is unlikely to bypass a company’s network tracking tools and other cyber protections. This results in a lack of security visibility and the inability to utilize current safeguards.
Software-defined WAN is challenging to secure due to inconsistencies in security policies and variations in service delivery. Different rules, procedures, and methods for service delivery and cybersecurity make it challenging to safeguard traffic, connections, and the network. When it comes to hosting security solutions, the security requirements and capabilities of various branch sites vary. In addition, there are distinct security operations centers (SOCs) and network operations centers. Priorities and duties can be difficult to reconcile.
Furthermore, scalability and manageability will never be simple when dealing with several distributed systems. To achieve adequate security, a system must be designed particularly to address this difficulty and the ones listed above.
A paper titled “SD-WAN Threat Landscape” authored by researchers from the Inception Institute of Artificial Intelligence and Tomsk State University and published in Cornell University’s Arxiv open-access archive demonstrates that the threats affecting SD-WAN include all traditional network and SDN threats as well as product-specific threats.
The SD-WAN environment does not make the network less susceptible to certain types of threats. It is vulnerable to a variety of threats, including brute force attacks, denial of service, API leaks, XSS, arbitrary file reading via path reversal, password reset spoofing, OpenSSH leaks, and TLS server bot assaults.
Some firms are even more vulnerable if they rely on providers of older SD-WAN solutions, which are plagued by the same security flaws and inefficiencies as a hub-and-spoke design. SD-WAN providers that are not cloud-based typically employ the same outdated WAN optimization techniques that cannot provide acceptable security at the network’s edge. They are only permitted to offer WAN encryption solutions developed from the insecure IKE-based IP-SEC protocol.
Organizations may be in the process of opting to migrate to SD-WAN without understanding the associated risks. They may be aware of the need for better security, but they may be unaware of the exact techniques and procedures that need to be implemented.
What SD-WAN security must contain
SD-WAN security necessitates four essential characteristics: an improved firewall system, prevention-driven security, unified monitoring and administration, and flexible deployment. These features handle security concerns in a configuration without a perimeter, which is essential for providing effective protection for connections between the headquarters and branch offices.
- Next-Generation Firewall (NGFW) — conventionally, firewalls are perimeter-centric cyber defenses. Anti-bot, antivirus, URL filtering, app control, intrusion prevention system (IPS), and identity management must be included to make them applicable in an SD-WAN environment. These guarantee comprehensive protection against a vast array of internet threats.
- Emphasis on prevention — because SD-WAN lacks perimeter protection, it is inherently susceptible to attacks from all directions. It is vital to make sure that assaults are prevented instead of depending on detection and response procedures. This requires access to the most up-to-date cybersecurity intelligence and a sandbox for assessing and containing questionable activity.
- Unified security control and policy implementation — Due to the variety of connections involved, monitoring and controlling SD-WAN are challenging. To maximize the efficacy of the security solutions used to safeguard the various SD-WAN devices, accounts, and networks, it is preferable to consolidate everything under a single monitoring and management platform. It is also suggested that a uniform security policy and enforcement be implemented.
- Adaptability — Once again, SD-WAN entails diverse users, accounts, devices, file storage, and places. It stands to reason that the security system protecting it should offer flexible deployment choices, such as cloud network security as a service, secure gateway appliances, and virtual network functions.
Advancing security for the next generation
Tim Liu, a cybersecurity specialist, discusses the benefits of SD-WAN-specific security solutions in a Forbes article. In addition, he describes how their centralized management, cloud-based nature, adaptability, and productivity-enhancing capabilities contribute to the advancement of next-generation security.
“SD-WAN is one component of the secure access service edge (SASE) framework advocated by Gartner industry analysts. Liu explains that SASE presents a natural transition from NGFW to SD-WAN to SASE that can offer organizations benefits at each stage along the path as the technologies mature.
The time has come for businesses to understand more about SD-WAN and how to secure its security. This is not simply for the purpose of increased efficiency and utilizing new and improved technologies. The introduction of SD-WAN is a step toward the modernization of WAN, and SD-WAN security is a path toward the adoption of SASE, which has been labeled the future of network security by certain industry experts.
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