The traditional brick and mortar, 9-5 office was previously seen as the central database for all employees trying to connect to the company’s network and resources. While this model worked in the past, currently it’s extremely outdated due to slow network connection time to data centers. Instead of placing the networks where the company is based, organizations must rethink how their network architecture needs to be designed.
While many organizations still make the branch sites the center of networking, they should make their employees’ location the key factor of how their company’s networking should be implemented. Due to the ongoing digital and cloud transformation, employees are seeking quick access to data and company resources in their work environments, no matter their location.
As a result of the modern employee needs, the once traditional static MPLS connections are not the answer for today’s modern networking between the user and the office branch. Due to the evolving network technology, organizations started to adopt SD-WAN solutions for quicker, flexible, effective, and more affordable networking.
What is SD-WAN and What are its Benefits?
An SD-WAN, also known as a software-defined wide-area network, is a virtualized network that is abstracted from data center or branch office hardware to create an easily configurable and scalable overlay wide area network distributed across local and global sites. It’s also an application of Software Defined Network (SDN) technology that is more reliable and scalable than VPN-based WAN solutions because it takes a software-based approach to build and extend enterprise networks beyond the core SDN.
Organizations today can use SD-WAN solutions to connect branch offices to their corporate networks instead of using traditional and expensive multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) connections, firewalls or proprietary hardware.
SD-WANs offer many benefits for organizations looking to leverage the cloud ranging from network topology simplification, internet traffic prioritization, and cost reduction to scalability and integrated security. SD-WAN management solutions allow IT managers to automate deployment and configuration processes of their network which reduces the complexity of managing a WAN network. Additionally, applications can also be integrated and managed from an SD-WAN portal, further simplifying SD-WAN management.
Despite the numerous benefits and the advancement of SD-WAN solutions, most organizations leave security at the door when implementing SD-WAN solutions.
Security is Essential for SD-WAN Success
When organizations are adopting new technologies, security is top priority when choosing a service of solution. This is the same with SD-WAN. According to a Gartner survey, 72% of executives see security as their biggest SD-WAN concern.
As each organization implements new networking infrastructures, they need to think and prepare for the different security risks and challenges. Many of the outdated security solutions cannot address these modern security challenges.
Adding to that problem, SD-WAN falls under most networking teams, which creates an even bigger issue where security isn’t even brought to their attention. Some might say it’s a mix of employees’ neglect or misguided advice but it’s just simply leaving an easy target for hackers to attack your organization’s network.
SD-WAN Security Mistakes Happen
Some might think that SD-WAN security is simple: you install the solution, it encrypts the data, and then sends it to the user from one location to the next. However, like every other cybersecurity solution, you need to strategize and instead of separating security and networking, you need to think of it as one solution where networking and security go hand in hand. Other security mistakes can and will occur. Here are our 5 security mistakes that organizations tend to make with SD-WAN and how to fix them:
Not Including SD-WAN Security in Your Organization’s Security Strategy
One of the biggest SD-WAN security mistakes that organizations commonly make is thinking that SD-WAN security is not part of the organization’s overall security strategy. SD-WAN should not be perceived as a standalone solution and just another connectivity tool that provides a level of data encryption. SD-WAN needs to implement the advanced security policies that other networking infrastructures are implementing.
To avoid further security risks, organizations must implement a more advanced security approach that looks past WAN capabilities that integrate policy-based control rules into their company security strategy. This new approach will allow security teams to monitor the data with a more holistic SDN managed detection response model. By prioritizing SD-WAN security and integrating it into your cloud security strategy, your organization will have an extra layer of defense when fighting off malicious actors’ attacks on your organization’s network.
Treating SD-WAN With a ‘Set It and Forget It’ Mentality
A continuous mistake we are seeing is when organizations implement a new technology in place and then they move on from it. This is the same issue with SD-WAN. To stay clear of this common mistake, organizations should have an ongoing monitoring and updating strategy in place to make sure everything is going smoothly.
By adopting this always monitoring approach with SD-WAN, it will allow organizations to expand network visibility and properly manage their network on a daily basis. As the security landscape is continuously changing so is your SD-WAN solution, so it’s best to always stay up to date and monitor your network instead of setting it up and forgetting about it.
Encrypting SD-WAN Traffic is a Must
A major networking challenge that organizations are experiencing is switching from an MPLS connection to a more public broadband connection. Unfortunately, this doesn’t bode well with their cloud environments and services. Due to this, more organizations are implementing SD-WAN solutions to create more private broadband connections that link the cloud resources to the organization’s main network. Adding more and new connections causes a domino effect which results in adding more holes in your network, opening the door to attacks.
To solve this issue, organizations need to encrypt their SD-WAN traffic to protect their critical information that is being accessed by the organization. It is recommended to adopt a SASE platform that encrypts all network traffic that transforms into a fundamental security layer in your SD-WAN solution. By having that extra layer of security it’s essential for organizations to provide a high performance secure networking connection to its employees.
Implementing the Wrong Solution For Your Needs
When seeking the right SD-WAN solution for your organization, you need to consider if this is the right fit for your networking needs. Another common mistake made by organizations is that they deploy another stand alone solution or the wrong solution. By looking for a tool that helps with network visibility or device policy management, organizations need to understand if this tool will secure our network and not complex the tough challenge of securing the network.
Therefore, the first thing organizations need to check when considering an SD-WAN solution is whether it will easily integrate into its network and security strategy. By adopting the correct SD-WAN solution for its organization it will help increase security posture for the entire network security strategy.
Forgetting about Security Entirely
Ignoring security might be the simplest mistake that an organization can make when adopting SD-WAN solutions. While SD-WAN tends to fall under the networking teams at organizations, the idea of a cost-saving solution usually forgets to include the importance of security.
Instead of just thinking SD-WAN as another networking tool, organizations need to include their security teams when managing SD-WAN to ensure there is the proper security in place after adopting the solution. While this common mistake is a simple one it comes with major consequences. By implementing an unsecured solution can open the door to hackers and can create major security issues for the organization’s network and critical resources.
Improving SD-WAN Security
In just over a few years, SD-WAN has shown its great value by providing a quicker and more flexible option for network transformation. Despite the continuous advancement of SD-WAN, they don’t entirely provide protection against more sophisticated attacks that we are seeing with today’s network environments.
Moving forward, Organizations need to think about which advanced security functionalities need to be easily integrated into their SD-WAN solution instead of thinking security afterward. By adopting a more secure SD-WAN solution with the correct security functions integrated it will help organizations to detect and intercept attacks on its network moving forward.