Essentials of WAN security – SD-WAN



Security threats continue to impact countless enterprises and commercial establishments. This includes phishing campaigns, which lure susceptible individuals via unscrupulous e-mails and embedded links. The growing threat of malware, viruses, and even adware is also detrimental to enterprise infrastructure and productivity.

With security hacks and breaches occurring at alarming rates, foreign intrusion has resulted in billions of dollars in lost revenue for global brands and companies. It is paramount to stay abreast of all the latest security threats while implementing strategic plans to secure your wide area network (WAN).

The Risks of Unsecured WAN

For the many businesses switching to cloud-based technologies, WAN security must be at the core of any brand extension or security upgrade. Companies should fully protect remote sites and workers along with communication tools that are needed to conduct daily business. From VoIP to video conferencing, a company’s WAN must employ the latest security protocols to effectively protect users.

Without a fully secure network, the following can occur:

  • increased risk of viruses, malware, adware, and e-mail phishing scams
  • Full hacking capabilities for unscrupulous users looking to expose weak and susceptible areas.
  • Countless dollars in damage to software, applications, hardware, and essentials business components.
    technical obstacles and hurdles that will hinder optimal business performance and productivity.
  • Lack of application protection and support, rendering existing anti-virus programs useless.

An unsecured WAN poses several risks and potential vulnerability. The recent advent of software-defined wide area networks (SD-WANs) has brought a new layer of security to traditional wide area networks (WANs) and multi-protocol label switching (MPLS) connections. Software-defined wide area networking, or SD-WAN, provides the benefits of software-defined networking (SDN) technology to traditionally hardware-based networking. Unlike the unrestricted user access that many MPLS-based backbones often grant to users, SD-WANs make it easy for IT to use tunneling to segment traffic over the network.

As any security professional knows, layer three segmentation hardly classifies as secure networking. SD-WANs still lack layer-seven visibility to prevent a malicious user (or malware) from accessing a system on a different segment. Only by fusing security into the SD-WAN will companies gain the protection they seek.


Types of SD-WAN Architecture

SD-WAN providers offer several general types of SD-WAN architecture—namely, premises-based, MPLS-based, and Internet-based.

  • Premises-based SD-WAN solutions involve an appliance that is placed onsite to achieve SD-WAN functionality. Premises-based SD-WANs can be cost-effective solutions for smaller, localized businesses.
  • MPLS-based SD-WAN solutions involve multiple appliances placed at network endpoints. These solutions create a virtual IP network between the vendor-proprietary appliances, giving them control of network packets from end to end.
  • Internet-based SD-WAN solutions also use multiple appliances at each customer location, using public Internet connections from customer-chosen providers. The customer pays for a portion of its Internet connections to be SD-WAN.

Few of the benefits of SD-WAN are:

  • Lower WAN OPEX and CAPEX
  • Greater business agility and responsiveness
  • Increased application performance across the WAN
  • Assure business intent with advanced application visibility and control
  • Robust edge-to-edge security and micro-segmentation
  • Extensibility to 3rd party products via service chaining

Aside from that array of SD-WAN benefits, arguably the primary advantage of an SD-WAN architecture is security. Today’s companies prefer network architectures that integrate security, policy, and orchestration, and SD-WAN covers those bases by unifying secure connectivity. In the SD-WAN architecture, a company benefits from end-to-end encryption across the entire network, including the Internet. All devices and endpoints are completely authenticated, thanks to a scalable key-exchange functionality and software-defined security. All communication between the main office and branch offices is secure, as is communication to and from the cloud.


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