At its core, SD-WAN was designed to enable digital innovation. By leveraging both the corporate WAN and multi-cloud connectivity, SD-WAN solutions deliver high-speed application performance at the WAN edge of branch sites to enhance and transform an organization’s capabilities to connect, conduct business, and respond to customer needs. SD-WAN enables quick and easy access to business-critical cloud applications and core network and internet-based resources. It does this by automatically routing traffic through one WAN link or another, depending on network conditions. It then monitors those connections and makes modifications on the fly to ensure consistent performance. 

While these factors are critical to the success of businesses, they mean nothing if security is left as an afterthought solution that has to try and keep up with a dynamically changing WAN environment.

Risks of WAN Security Issues

When making the move to new digital transformation infrastructures, such as SD-WAN, organizations often focus on the networking and business benefits without paying much attention to the security implications. Because of this mindset, security teams are often left out of the decision-making process when it comes to choosing a solution. This lack of foresight is compounded by the fact that most SD-WAN solutions offer little more than basic firewall and VPN functionality, which then presents a significant challenge for those teams now responsible for securing this technology, whether in a traditional office setting or a remote branch environment. 

The inherent security issues of a dynamic WAN environment typically lead organizations to try and deploy overlay solutions that are not only very expensive, but also add more complexity and limit visibility for security teams. Additionally, by relying on individual, isolated security tools, organizations struggle to gain granular control across the entire network, opening the door for:  

  • Security gaps
  • Increased vulnerability to viruses and malware
  • Susceptibility to phishing scams
  • Data breaches
  • Network compromise
  • Latency of time-sensitive applications due to inefficiencies in the security solution

With this in mind, it is clear that choosing the right SD-WAN solution is not only critical to the performance of the WAN and mission-critical applications, but also to the protection of the business, its employees, and its customers. While recognizing this is important, it is only the first step. To truly enjoy, and be able to take advantage of all of the benefits that SD-WAN technology has to offer, organizations must first understand what goes into a true Secure SD-WAN solution to better select a solution that provides them with the full range of functions and features they need.

Applying SD-WAN Security Measures

Several factors differentiate SD-WAN from Secure SD-WAN. By prioritizing the following functions, organizations can better select an SD-WAN solution that enables enhanced performance while also addressing the risks associated with WAN security, and the costs and limitations of trying to deploy an overlay security solution applied after the fact. 

Areas of focus should include: 

Verification, Evaluation, and Inspection

Approximately 75% of network traffic is now SSL-encrypted. Inspecting this traffic to ensure it does not include malware or other malicious content requires massive amounts of processing power that no only most SD-WAN solutions cannot handle, but most firewalls deployed after the fact as well. To defend their networks against cyber criminals that hide malware in VPN traffic to infiltrate networks, or to hide data being exfiltrated, organizations should look for a solution that features built-in encrypted traffic inspection capabilities that can operate at the speed of the applications and connections being used.

Fortinet’s Secure SD-WAN solution features high-speed SSL/TLS inspection, augmented by the industry’s first and only purpose-built processors designed specifically for SD-WAN, to enable visibility and protection into encrypted traffic without compromising the performance of business-critical applications. Other features include WAN path remediation, tunnel bandwidth aggregation, and automatic failover capabilities—all of which take security and performance into consideration. By leveraging these capabilities, overwhelmed and understaffed security teams can eliminate the need for separate encryption inspection appliances that require additional time and effort to monitor, and that can significantly impact WAN performance. 

Consistent Enforcement of Policies

Organizations that are late to implementing a security strategy for their SD-WAN solution will find it difficult to ensure consistent policy enforcement across their interconnected ecosystems, including their multi-cloud applications, by relying on an overlay solution. Fortinet’s Secure SD-WAN addresses this challenge by providing single-pane-of-glass management coupled with zero-touch deployment, thereby simplifying the process of deploying security measures. It also seamlessly interoperates with other Fortinet solutions deployed across the distributed network, whether on-premises, on remote devices, or in the cloud, for a universally deployed and managed security framework. When implementing an SD-WAN solution, organizations should look for an offering such as this to effectively mitigate the risks associated with digital transformation.   

Next-Generation Firewall (NGFW) Functionality

When it comes to SD-WAN, many organizations feel as though they must compromise on cost and security in order to achieve the level of performance they require to ensure business continuity. Choosing a solution that cannot inspect traffic at network speeds, defend against a wide range of external threats, or isolate and disarm live threats, will only yield bad results—especially since most security teams are already feeling overworked due to the growing cybersecurity skills gap

With Fortinet’s Secure SD-WAN in place, organizations can enjoy SD-WAN and next-generation firewall (NGFW) functionality on a single appliance, thereby reducing overall complexity as well as total cost of ownership (TCO). Additionally, by featuring such advanced capabilities as anti-malware, web filtering, sandboxing, and IPS inspection capabilities, this offering leaves security teams with more time to focus on other critical tasks, such as analysis.

Prioritize SD-WAN Security Concerns Up Front

SD-WAN can be a game-changer for organizations as they compete for customer loyalty and market share in the digital marketplace. While traditional SD-WAN solutions offer fast connectivity and improved performance for Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) applications, they all have one critical shortcoming—a lack of effective built-in security measures. To get the most out of this technology, without compromising either critical resources or application performance, organizations must look for a solution that is not only designed to improve connectivity and application performance, but also inspect traffic and ensure consistent policy enforcement at scale and speed. 

And in all of the market today, the only solution capable of providing these networking and security features—combined with accelerated performance and functionality due to its market-first processor designed specifically for SD-WAN environments—is Fortinet’s Secure SD-WAN. By embracing its security-driven approach, organizations can achieve their performance goals without having to worry about their efforts being reversed by one simple act of a determined cybercriminal.

Take a security-driven approach to networking to improve user experience and simplify operations at the WAN edge with Fortinet’s Secure SD-WAN solution.

Read these customer case studies to see how De Heus and Burger King Brazil implemented Fortinet’s Secure SD-WAN to alleviate network complexity, increase bandwidth, and reduce security costs.

Sourced from Fortinet

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