Getting Ahead of SD-WAN Security With the Zero Trust Model

As businesses across the world become more geographically diverse and move toward an increasingly hybrid IT environment, legacy infrastructure is struggling to keep up. With more data flowing over enterprise networks from multiple sources, the demand for software-defined wide area network (SD-WAN) technology is growing exponentially.

A report from IDC predicted that this technology will become a $6 billion industry by 2020, and that 75 percent of U.S. enterprises will implement SD-WAN within two years.

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Is SD-WAN Too Risky?

SD-WAN technologies makes it simple for organizations to optimize the cost of using different network technologies, such as multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) and commercial broadband, to connect their various remote offices and/or branches to one another. SD-WAN can be up to 2.5 times less expensive than a traditional WAN due to lower savings generated by using secure edges, along with a decrease in staffing and router maintenance costs. Additionally, SD-WAN facilitates secure, vendor- and technology-agnostic data transport over any internet or WAN connection, boosting hybrid cloud adoption.

As with any other networking architecture, security of SD-WAN is a top priority. So while the shift to SD-WAN makes business sense, organizations want to ensure that such a move will not increase the attack surface of their network or expose it to new vulnerabilities as it connects to cloud providers and uses newer types of endpoints. According to an Enterprise Management Associates (EMA) report, respondents ranked security as the most important characteristic they need from their SD-WAN.

Embracing the Zero Trust Model

The good news is that there is a way to make SD-WAN more secure than a traditional WAN: by using the zero trust model. The thrust of the zero trust security approach is to stop trusting applications, users, networking devices or networks by default, and instead implement a regime of continuous verification. In other words, this model focuses on authenticating first and providing network security access second.

Secure SD-WAN architecture helps you enhance the performance and agility of your WAN by introducing security-rich, software-defined technology that can work with your current network infrastructure. It should follow the zero trust model to provide end-to-end circuit encryption from on-premises to the cloud using IPSec 256-bit protection.

Additionally, it must help IT managers better control and monitor who is accessing the network and applications by strengthening access control policies. Teams must also be able to deploy software-defined, stateful firewalls to an edge device.

Read the Zero Trust White Paper to learn more

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Secure SD-WAN services from IBM enable enhanced security, performance and savings for your WAN and embodies all the characteristics you should look for in your secure SD-WAN solution.

Ben Hendrick, partner and global competency leader of infrastructure and endpoint security at IBM Security, and Christina Richmond, program director for IDC’s security services, discussed the steps organizations need to take to secure their SD-WAN infrastructure in a webinar earlier this summer. Watch the on-demand session to learn more about their strategies for better network security.

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Rahul Agarwal

Portfolio Marketing Manager, IBM

Rahul Agarwal is a Portfolio Marketing Manager for Security Services on the IBM Security Marketing team. Rahul has over 12 years of experience in marketing, strategy pre-sales and software development. Having joined IBM 3 years ago, Rahul was responsible for marketing IBM Data Warehousing Software and Solutions before joining the Security team. Rahul is an alumni of the Indian Institute of Management, Kozhikode and is currently based out of Bangalore, India.