In today’s work environment with remote employees, distributed workforce and multiple locations, a software-defined wide area network (SD-WAN) has become the go-to solution to improve flexibility, performance and agility.
SD-WAN deployment has reduced the complexity of managing a network across multiple locations, providing full visibility into the entire network and centralizing management.
At the same time, there are increased SD-WAN security challenges that are inherent in the architecture of the infrastructure.
SD-WAN Security Challenges
SD-WAN enables branch offices and remote workers to connect to an organization’s network across a wide range of connected devices. More entry points and endpoints add a layer of complexity to SD-WAN security, however.
Every network is only as strong as its weakest threat vector. More potential attack points and more traffic present more opportunities for data breaches and incursions by threat actors.
While most SD-WAN solutions have basic firewall protection, they will not fully protect your network. Choosing a third-party add-on creates another expense and management task. It may also limit some of the benefits of using SD-WAN to route and manage your traffic.
SD-WAN vs. Stand-Alone Firewalls
Most SD-WAN solutions come with minimal features to address security. While helping mitigate risk, they do not deal with all of the security challenges.
Typically, security solutions will include:
- Traffic encryption. 128- and 256-bit Advanced Encryption Standard encryption, Internet Protocol security (IPsec), and virtual private network capabilities to prevent unauthorized access to the network.
- Microsegmentation. Allows IT admins to segment traffic defined by application characteristics and network policies, such as segregating traffic arriving from less secure locations to avoid granting full network access.
- Threat intelligence. Services that identify and mitigate some security threats by identifying suspicious patterns in network traffic.
When it comes to having a robust security solution, however, a simple firewall with these security features will fall short in today’s environment.
If your SD-WAN provider is not employing an integrated next-generation firewall (NGFW) within your SD-WAN solution, they are also falling short on current best practices for SD-WAN security.
Integrated NGFW Protection
Solving SD-WAN security challenges requires an integrated NGFW. An NGFW provides stronger security options, including features such as:
- Intrusion detection and prevention systems.
- Signature-based and protocol anomaly-based detection.
- URL categorization and filtering.
- Internet Protocol packet filtering.
Other SD-WAN Security Best Practices
Best practices for enhancing SD-WAN security include the inspection of all traffic across the network, and ensuring the system can handle Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) encrypted traffic well. SSL certificates have doubled in the past year, and now most internet traffic is SSL encrypted. While adding a layer of security, SSL traffic is also more difficult to inspect at scale. Threat actors often hide malware inside SSL traffic, where it is harder to detect.
Your SD-WAN provider should include a way to intercept SSL communications between servers and clients, decrypt the transmission, and inspect it with web filtering and antivirus scanning. Only after the traffic has been analyzed and deemed safe should it be forwarded to the end-user.
The best SD-WAN security solutions will also provide daily full incremental updates and hourly real-time threat updates. This is essential in an environment where a cyberattack occurs every 39 seconds on average and cybercriminals are constantly evolving their methods.
Your provider should also meet SD-WAN security challenges by providing:
- Contextual network and security policies for specific users and devices.
- Connectivity based on IPsec tunnel encapsulation.
- The ability to set unique security policies.
- Secure service chains for guest access, corporate access and partner access at the branch level.
What is SASE?
Secure access service edge (SASE) integrates SD-WAN and security into a cloud service. Gartner first coined the term in 2019, and it is possible to deploy many of the goals of SASE as best practices for your SD-WAN today.
SASE enforces security policies on each user session based on four criteria:
- Identity: who is connecting to the network.
- Context: the health and behavior of the device and resource being accessed.
- Policies: the defined policies for security and compliance.
- Risk assessment: an ongoing assessment during sessions.
Although it is possible to add third-party solutions to an SD-WAN deployment, Gartner recommends an integrated security solution from a single provider as a best practice. A single provider simplifies management and can reduce costs.
SASE simplifies authentication by applying the appropriate policies for specific applications and resources based on a user’s initial login. Enforcing these policies, regardless of where users are located, increases security. And with security integrated with the dynamic updating of traffic routes and paths, everything always remains in sync.
Best Practices for Your SD-WAN
To learn more about best practices for securing your SD-WAN, contact the experts at LOGIX Fiber Networks today.