Are SD-WAN Services Secure?

Aug 18, 2018

SD-WAN, and SDN in general, have opened up greater agility and reduced costs to businesses and organizations looking to move away from MPLS and into the new, software-defined era. However, these new technological innovations aren’t without their own drawbacks. One of the biggest issues facing enterprises looking to begin the switch to software-defined wide area networks is how to deal with the threat of increased exposure to hackers and other malicious actors.

Unfortunately, we now live in an age where cyber-attacks are increasingly common and can even be a daily threat for some larger businesses and institutions. With this in mind, it is no wonder those interested in SDN and SD-WAN are rightfully asking the question “are SD-WAN services secure?”

The consequences of a severe cyber-attack for businesses and also individuals can be devastating and, in some cases, can result in a serious breach of data and privacy laws, injury, or even death if the integrity of infrastructure, machines and vehicles or tools and equipment are compromised.

In this article, we’ll be looking at how secure SD-WAN services are and how they might protect businesses and individuals from the threats posed by determined hackers and rogue nation states to malicious software and viruses. From understanding the threats to looking into new ways in which this challenge is being solved, we’ll try to answer the question are SD-WAN services secure?

Upgrading Security Never So Important Before

As mentioned previously, we are now living in an age where cyber-attacks and the people who undertake them are becoming far more common than they ever have been before. With the rapid evolution of networking technologies over the past twenty years we have never been more connected to each other and our businesses.

This also means we are more vulnerable now than we have ever been before, too. We are also at a point in time where the technologies that enable such activities are both simpler to use and more accessible than ever.

The emergence of a more connected world has given rise to a plethora of new ways in which to exploit, damage, steal, and invade privacy using home and business networks. Over recent years, the vast majority of online systems have employed local protections such as anti-virus software and firewalls to protect their networks.

Such security measures are no longer enough to keep us protected from the plethora of threats we face.

With virtualization becoming an important part of business networking and communications, the need for security has never been greater and, in order to achieve the levels of security that are necessary, experts have taken innovations like SD-WAN and are looking to develop new, security-focused solutions.


In the early days of SD-WAN, network agility and connectivity where the main focus of both developers and users who adopted these systems. Now, that focus has shifted almost entirely onto the security aspects of SD-WAN and how it can be used to fortify protection and provide enhanced security options. This area is widely becoming known as SD-Security.

With SD-Security, the idea is to decouple security services and solutions from physical hardware, much the same way that SD-WAN decouples network functions from physical hardware and virtualizes them. This is done to ensure that security and software functionality are still able to run harmoniously despite being separated from physical hardware.

There are several benefits to adopting a software-defined approach to security, these include increased agility in security solutions, reducing both CAPEX and OPEX, minimization of operational complexity and the ability to be customized to suit your own bespoke configuration in order to give the best results.

As more and more of our technologies and services become virtualized, SD-Security seems to be the natural solution for such an environment. When everything else is virtual, why limit yourself to a security solution that is limited and restricted by its own physical hardware? SD-Security could very well be the start of change in the landscape of virtualized security solutions.

How Secure is SD-WAN?

So, how secure is SD-WAN? The answer really depends on the context in which the question is asked. Is SD-WAN more secure than MPLS? No. Are people working on making it more secure than MPLS? Absolutely.

There will always be those that try to compromise security systems and get passed firewalls and other security measures, however, conversely there will also always be those that are looking to strengthen and secure our systems and connections.

While SD-WAN does expand the threat vector for the business and organizations that adopt it, this will not always be the case and it is highly recommended that those looking to invest in SDN do their own research and find out where they might expect to see vulnerabilities appear once they begin to transition towards SD-WAN.

SD-WAN and SD-Security are the latest iterations of software-defined networking and protection, so they will undoubtedly have flaws which will need to be worked out over the coming months and years. This, however, should not put anyone off investing in SD-WAN as the benefits that can be utilized with such systems really are helping to transform the way multi-location business are operated.

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