By Corne Mare, Director, Security Solutions, Fortinet Australia
SD-WANs (software-defined wide area networks) are a manifestation of digital transformation. They enable enterprises to seamlessly connect branch offices and remote workers quickly and easily. SD-WAN offers more functionality than VPNs and can be considerably more cost-effective than MPLS- (multi-protocol label switching) based WANs. And they are relatively easy to set up and maintain.
Security the issue
The major inhibitor that has slowed SD-WAN uptake is security. Because SD-WAN utilises the public internet for connectivity, traffic is not secure. As a result, IT staff have to add a layer of security – typically a firewall - at both the host and client side. In theory, not a bad arrangement.
But in practice it can become problematic in respect to compatibility, cost, management and reliability especially if multiple vendors are involved. The most obvious solution, then, is to combine the networking and routing capabilities of the SD-WAN modem/router with the security functionality of the firewall into a single appliance or service. This is the approach Fortinet has adopted with the Secure SD-WAN next generation firewalls.
There are two factors to consider when implementing secure SD-WAN. The first is the most obvious: does it work. As with any newer technology, sometimes the hype overshadows the reality. Almost every major networking vendor has an SD-WAN solution on the market and many claim that they are secure. But what kind of security are they talking about? Is it simply a set of security procedures that take care of the basics or is it part of a larger security fabric that can be leveraged across the enterprise?
Which leads us to the next factor: Do the secure SD-WAN features and functions integrate cleanly with your current security ecosystem? Any gaps or weak links between the two can be targeted by adversaries. It is imperative than they work together seamlessly. Business risk is also an important consideration. You’ll need to evaluate the impact on your risk posture as you integrate secure SD-WAN into your overall security fabric.
Digital business opportunities without fear
Digital transformation is opening a myriad of digital business opportunities. SD-WAN is just one of the many innovations resulting from faster, smarter networking. Think 5G, IoT, multi-cloud access and OT (operations technology). Enterprises that embrace these technologies will give themselves a competitive advantage. But none of these innovations operate in a vacuum. They are all inter-related and they all require security. And that security has to adapt as your networks evolve.
Embedding integrated security into your virtual and physical network – your SD-WAN is just the beginning - makes more sense than adding point security functions in an ad hoc manner. Indeed, building in security capabilities ab initio will become much more critical as your enterprise moves to take advantage of digital transformation.
The good news here is that security vendors, Fortinet included, are embedding more DevOps (software development / operations) functionality using tools such as APIs and connectors so that enterprises can deliver security features alongside updated applications.
In essence, embedding security at the start of a development project enables enterprises to pursue digital business opportunities, with lower TCO per Mbps, so they can focus on their agility and scaling their business at growth.
Your security challenges will not get any easier. Not only is network technology undergoing massive changes but the adversarial community (state-sponsored, criminal, opportunists and hacktivists) is getting smarter and more organised.
To stay ahead of the curve you should be looking at partnering with a vendor that has a comprehensive, fully-integrated security fabric. One that has all the connectivity tools for embedding security at every point, the management tools to monitor activity at the granular level and the commitment to be proactive when it comes to securing fast-moving technological innovation. And that vendor is Fortinet.
Fortinet (NASDAQ: FTNT) secures the largest enterprise, service provider, and government organisations around the world. Fortinet empowers its customers with intelligent, seamless protection across the expanding attack surface and the power to take on ever-increasing performance requirements of the borderless network - today and into the future. Only the Fortinet Security Fabric architecture can deliver security without compromise to address the most critical security challenges, whether in networked, application, cloud or mobile environments. Fortinet ranks #1 in the most security appliances shipped worldwide and more than 375,000 customers trust Fortinet to protect their businesses. Learn more at http://www.fortinet.com, the Fortinet Blog, or FortiGuard Labs.
For more Brand Posts in the Fortinet Security Insight series, click here.
About the author
Corne Mare is Director, Security Solutions at Fortinet Australia. As such, it is his business to know what’s happening in the cybersecurity world and help enterprises secure their transitional networks without sacrificing speed, functionality or control.