Security and SD-WAN: What you need to know

For enterprises, maintaining rigorous network security is a never-ending task. Staff need to be well-versed in best security practices, whether that’s password protection, recognising when a device has been affected by malware, or staying savvy to phishing scams. At the same time, network infrastructure needs to be continually assessed to ensure it’s able to stand up to threats and accommodate business challenges, such as the addition of new branch sites. The larger an organisation is, or the more sites it has, the more complicated all of this can become.

When networks aren’t adequately protected, the consequences can be catastrophic: stolen confidential data, destruction of trust, loss of reputation or even a complete system breakdown. IT decision makers are all too aware of this issue – in fact, SSE Enterprise Telecoms’ research shows that having security concerns reassured has the biggest influence for businesses when it comes to choosing a new network provider. Given security is the second biggest (34%) frustration IT decision makers have with their current platforms, it’s clear that many don’t have confidence in the security of their existing solutions.

IT departments need reassurance that their networks are secure enough to stand up to any threats that may emerge, but sometimes, fear of change and a lack of understanding around new solutions can prevent decision makers from investing in more beneficial network solutions.

Software-Defined Wide Area Networking (SD-WAN) is just this. However, over one third (36%) of organisations not currently using SD-WAN say that the security risk is one of the big reasons for non-adoption. So, is their concern justified – or could SD-WAN actually help IT decision makers enhance their network security?

SD-WAN: Is it a secure solution for enterprises?

SD-WAN is a solution for configuring and implementing an enterprise WAN, which uses software-defined networking (SDN) to route traffic to remote locations such as branch offices. It can offer a host of benefits including greater control, more flexibility, enhanced network visibility, and improved efficiencies.

But while IT decision makers are aware of the agility of SD-WAN, some remain dubious about the security of the solution. Part of this comes from a lack of understanding – after all, nearly half (46%) of the IT decision makers we recently surveyed weren’t aware of SD-WAN at all.

Concerns around public connections are also giving rise to doubts: seven in ten IT decision makers believe public internet connectivity is a risk to their organisation, and some decision makers are anxious about potentially moving their traffic from their private, structured MPLS VPN and onto public links. In reality, however, this shouldn’t be an issue.

SD-WAN provides an encrypted overlay separate to its transport components. It segments sensitive traffic across the local area network and the wide area network. The key thing to clarify here is that SD-WAN is not a network in and of itself; it is an external overlay attached to a network platform. So long as the original underlying connectivity is secure, overall security shouldn’t be compromised.

SSE Enterprise Telecoms, for example, is CAS(T) accredited, recognising the stringent measures we have put in place for customers. This reassures customers that their systems and services are adequately protected against risks to the confidentiality, integrity and availability of information classified as HM Government OFFICIAL.

Improving security with SD-WAN

The reality is, deployed correctly, security could actually be enhanced by SD-WAN. This is backed up by our research, which found enterprises who are already using SD-WAN are less likely to experience security concerns (34%) than those who have not yet invested (45%). There are several reasons behind this. For example, with SD-WAN, businesses can segment their applications based on granular security policies to minimise the attack surface. This ensures only the right people have access, and are subject to the right policies and protocols.

Furthermore, with the enhanced network visibility offered by SD-WAN, potential issues can be identified in real-time – giving an accurate view of SaaS and IaaS app usage to assure security. And with full visibility of the estate, businesses can ensure they have diversity within their connectivity. SD-WAN can intelligently route traffic based on the priority it has been set at, meaning secure data could only ever move along Ethernet, with applications like Skype routed along broadband or 4G.

In addition, a provider like SSE Enterprise Telecoms can offer end-to-end security service management, that allows the network manager to control all security software rules in one place.

Find out more about SD-WAN

So, despite the apprehensions of some IT decision makers, the reality is that SD-WAN is not a security risk. In fact, it could even help to improve network security – as well as offering a range of other appealing benefits. Read more about SD-WAN and what it can offer your enterprise here.

Related content

Category: Featured

MPLS vs SD-WAN

Multi-Protocol Label Switching (MPLS) has been popular for a number of years now and is very good at providing robust and reliable connectivity as...

Read Article

Get in touch