Cisco SD-WAN technology is already improving networks by linking branches, colocation, data centers, and cloud resources into the information fabric that connects a distributed company. However, organizations face increased security concerns, unpredictable application performance, and increasing complexity at the Cloud Edge—the confluence of the network, cloud, and security.
As branches open up to direct cloud connections and operate mission-critical apps over the internet, the old method to WAN security, which involves routing traffic back to the corporate firewall, is inefficient and costly. This is because old WAN solutions were built primarily to connect branches directly to data centers. They lack the flexibility to handle many cloud platform connections simultaneously, automatically selecting the most efficient and cost-effective ways.
Organizations require a complete and adaptable software-defined architecture to secure the WAN while simplifying distributed network management and minimizing connection costs. Every WAN device must, in effect, become software-defined and protected. As a result, we introduce a new comprehensive SD-WAN security stack that addresses critical edge security challenges. Cisco offers highly effective and scalable security for SD-WAN that is simple to manage, deploy, and maintain, allowing businesses to employ cloud services confidently. Cisco SD-WAN connects devices and people to any cloud seamlessly, enabling a superior application experience while delivering consistent unified threat prevention from branch to cloud.
Every WAN device must become software-defined and safe as applications migrate from data centers to numerous cloud platforms.
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Cisco SD-WAN Offers Four Levels of Edge Security
The typical approach to cloud edge security is to route all traffic back to the corporate data center for inspection, analysis, and filtering before forwarding it to SaaS apps or public cloud services. This option typically necessitates the deployment of pricey MPLS lines for distributed companies, which increases the scale and complexity of data center security layers. The more traffic there is among scattered branches, the more expensive and complicated it is to manage multiple MPLS connections and data center security.
The all-new Cisco SD-WAN security stack offers a comprehensive shield that operates at the edge, in the branch router, with centralized control for network and security management. The inherent security features protect data traveling to and from branch business systems and cloud platforms. The security stack also covers the entire connected company against crippling security assaults resulting from compromised internet connections and applications. The Cisco SD-WAN security stack focuses on four critical traffic profiles that are particularly important in the branch:
- Compliance: Ensuring the security of sensitive data at rest and in transit, in the branch and the cloud.
- Direct Internet Access: Allowing direct internet connections through network ports significantly widens the possible attack surface from external sources.
- Direct Cloud Access: Allowing direct access to cloud resources and SaaS applications circumvents the company network's and data center's current centralized security (DMZ, Firewalls, Intrusion Detection).
- Guest Access: Allowing guests to connect to local Wi-Fi from personal devices while keeping corporate traffic and sensitive network functions separately.
Let's look at how the security improvements we're delivering reduce the threat surface exposed by these traffic profiles while leveraging the cost reductions afforded by our SD-WAN architecture.
Every company accepts, maintains, and processes sensitive data sets such as personally identifiable information (PII) and payment card information (PCI). Application-aware firewalls ensure that only authorized applications and users have access to sensitive data. Cisco SD-WAN security includes an embedded application-aware firewall in the branch router that learns and enforces which applications are permitted to access sensitive data types such as PCI. The SD-WAN fabric then delivers sensitive traffic to apps in the business data center or multi-cloud platforms over a secure VPN. In Cisco Intent-based Networks, intents such as "transmit sensitive data type PCI only on the IPsec VPN" can be programmed once in Cisco vManage and automatically deployed throughout the network, with Cisco vSmart Controllers dynamically segmenting traffic based on security regulations.
Access to the Internet Immediately
Before introducing SD-WAN, enterprises depended primarily on secure but costly MPLS connections to connect branches to the data center, where security services would be housed. Organizations breach the traditional centralized security barrier by allowing applications and devices at branch sites to access the internet directly. As a result, the branch is exposed to all forms of internet traffic, increasing the attack surface at the edge.
To combat these risks, the SD-WAN Security stack includes a set of embedded security capabilities such as an application-aware firewall, intrusion detection and prevention, and a cloud security layer based on Cisco Umbrella DNS. According to SecOps policies, the Cisco SD-WAN fabric automatically sends traffic to and from branches. Web security keeps a local cache of secure URLs continuously updated to reflect the most recent security danger information.
Direct Access to the Cloud
Direct cloud access enhances application QoE for cloud and SaaS apps while presenting a risk profile comparable to Direct Internet Access. Cisco SD-WAN Security employs a DNS security layer in conjunction with intrusion detection to prevent the most aggressive Denial of Service, phishing, malware, and ransomware threats that can exploit internet connections and open ports utilized by SaaS and cloud services. Furthermore, these embedded security capabilities make use of the most recent threat data from the Cisco Talos team, one of the world's most powerful commercial threat-intelligence teams.
Access for Guests
Retail businesses, for example, are eager to open up their branch Wi-Fi to customers to provide interactive methods of engaging them. Allowing guests to use the branch's Wi-Fi, on the other hand, exposes them to corporate apps, data, and services. The first step is to implement a security policy that restricts guest access, such that although internet access is permitted, all other aspects of the company network are not. Organizations must continue to prevent guests from downloading malware that could infect the branch network, either accidentally or purposefully. Cisco SD-WAN Security includes web filtering, intrusion detection, and prevention features to help prevent internet infections from spreading throughout the network. Furthermore, segmentation prevents employees from accessing the guest network, with all business data passing through IPsec VPN tunnels.
SD-WAN Makes Security Management Easier
Cisco SD-WAN offers a GUI-based workflow via the cloud-managed vManage controller to enable the new security stack capabilities and simplify management. The absence of contact Cisco ISR/ASR and vEdge routers can be powered up in the branch by non-technical staff and remotely configured based on pre-defined business intents tailored to the business's needs. Edge routers continuously monitor traffic patterns and alter connections automatically to accommodate priority business data, maintain cloud and SaaS application QoE, and proactively respond to security risks.
These advancements in our Cisco SD-WAN portfolio aid in the resolution of real-world security concerns confronting organizations today. Even better, SD-WAN comes with our DNA Essentials license, making licensing a breeze. You can expect further advancements from our technical team to help link and secure branch offices with corporate, multi-cloud, and SaaS application platforms, all while improving performance and lowering the total cost of connectivity.
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