Unlocking Security Automation through Network Visibility

Cyber threats to businesses are becoming more numerous and dangerous. As cyber threat actors become more sophisticated, organizations must respond rapidly to minimize the impact of security breaches.

Quickly responding to potential threats requires the strategic automation of security functionality. However, a key component of security automation is complete network visibility, which many organizations struggle to achieve. Software-defined wide area networks (SD-WAN) enable an organization to achieve full visibility into their network and provide a platform for automating threat detection and response activities throughout the corporate WAN.

The Growing Need for Security Automation

Many organizations are heavily reliant upon manual processes for cybersecurity threat detection, prevention, and response. However, these manual processes are becoming increasingly ineffective for a variety of different reasons.

One driver for security automation is the rapid evolution of the cybersecurity threat landscape. By all accounts, the number and sophistication of cyberattacks are growing steadily year over year. As organizations continue to collect sensitive data about their clients, cybercriminals are very interested in either stealing this data for their use or resale on the black market or encrypting it with malware and demanding a ransom payment.

automate threat detection

Defending against these cyberattacks is becoming more difficult as organizations’ attack surfaces continue to expand. An estimated 94% of organizations have adopted cloud computing, and many businesses are anticipated to use the Internet of Things (IoT) devices for business. The use of mobile devices, whether company-owned or bring your device (BYOD), for business purposes, is also on the rise. This expansion of the company digital attack surface opens up new vulnerabilities and attack vectors that must be identified and secured.

However, many organizations lack access to the skilled manpower necessary to accomplish this. The global cybersecurity skills gap is estimated to be 4.07 million and growing. As the need for cybersecurity professionals outstrips the supply, organizations must take action to maximize the impact of their limited cybersecurity talent.

Automation Requires Global Network Visibility

Strategic automation of security functionality can enable organizations to secure their networks despite limited security resources. Automation of common, simple tasks allows skilled security personnel to focus their efforts on more complex challenges and enables lower-level security staff to address issues that they would be unable to handle unaided.

However, effective automation of security functionality requires global, integrated visibility across an organization’s entire network infrastructure. An organization’s security staff, whether human or automated, can only secure what it can see. Siloed network security data that requires manual processes for data aggregation and analysis delays threat detection and response.

However, many of the same challenges that drive the need for security automation also impair security visibility. As the organization’s attack surface becomes more complex and encompasses a wider variety of endpoints, it is more difficult to source solutions that are capable of operating in all deployment environments. As a result, organizations are operating with a fragmented security architecture composed of standalone security solutions not designed to work together.

Solving the visibility challenge is the first step to achieving security automation in an enterprise environment. However, consistent security and monitoring require an integrated security deployment.

Achieving Global Visibility with SD-WAN

The wide variety of endpoints in the corporate WAN makes it difficult to find a security solution that operates on every possible endpoint. However, it is possible to achieve consolidated visibility across all of an organization’s network traffic, which provides a great deal of valuable security data and enables security automation.

Many organizations are using a wide variety of transport media for business communications, including multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) circuits, broadband Internet, mobile networks, and public Internet connections. This variety of transport media makes it difficult to achieve and maintain full visibility into all enterprise network traffic.

SD-WAN offers a solution to this. SD-WAN abstracts away the networking layer for applications, presenting them with a single “pipe” to send and receive traffic through. Under the hood, SD-WAN optimally routes this traffic based upon predefined rules and priorities.

Deploying SD-WAN enables an organization to achieve consistent, centralized visibility for all traffic entering and leaving locations with an SD-WAN appliance. Integrated security functionality, such as a next-generation firewall (NGFW) and an intrusion prevention system (IPS), moves security to the network edge, which can provide significant performance improvements.

However, achieving full visibility into the corporate WAN requires cloud-based SD-WAN. Cloud, IoT, mobile, and other remote devices do not have an on-site SD-WAN appliance to connect through. Globally distributed SD-WAN points of presence (PoPs) fix this problem, but they need to be close to the user in order to minimize network latency. This is why a cloud-based SD-WAN, with globally distributed PoPs connected by dedicated Tier 1 links, is the ideal solution for achieving global network visibility and high network performance.

SD-WAN Enables Security Automation

As the corporate attack surface expands and the global cyber threat landscape evolves, security automation is the only option for businesses to keep up with new threats. However, effective security automation is only possible if an organization has consistent, global visibility of their corporate network.

SD-WAN provides organizations with the ability to achieve this level of consistent visibility throughout their network. By providing a high-performance network for all corporate WAN users and integrating network, security, and monitoring functionality into every appliance, SD-WAN provides integrated security and lays the groundwork for security automation.


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