Designing the Corporate WAN for the Security Needs of Tomorrow

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Technological innovation, an evolving threat landscape, and other factors mean that the security needs of tomorrow may be very different from those of yesterday. However, many organizations are still reliant on security models and solutions designed for IT architectures that are rapidly becoming extinct. Keeping pace with digital transformation and protecting against cyber threats requires a new approach to security and security architecture capable of supporting it.

Cybersecurity is Only Going to Get More Complicated

In many organizations, security teams are understaffed and overwhelmed by their current responsibilities. However, the challenge of securing organizations against cyber threats will only grow more difficult and complex. Some of the main contributors to these challenges include:

  • Evolving Networks: Corporate networks have grown and evolved rapidly in recent years with the adoption of cloud computing, remote work, and Internet of Things (IoT) and mobile devices. As technology continues to evolve, corporate IT networks will continue to grow larger and more diverse, making them more difficult to monitor, manage, and secure.
  • Sophisticated Threats: The cyber threat landscape is changing rapidly as demonstrated by the evolution of the ransomware threat and the emergence of a cybercrime service economy. Security teams must develop and deploy defenses against the latest attacks faster than attackers can circumvent them.
  • Regulatory Requirements: The enactment of the EU’s GDPR kicked off a wave of new data privacy laws, complicating the regulatory landscape. As laws are created and updated, security teams must take action to demonstrate that they are in compliance with the latest requirements.
  • Complex Policies: Changes in corporate networks, work models, and cyber threats drive the evolution of more complex corporate IT policies. For example, the introduction of bring your own device (BYOD) policies makes it necessary for security teams to enforce these policies and ensure that devices not owned by the company do not place it at risk.

Security teams can’t scale to keep up with their growing responsibilities, especially since a cyber skills gap means that many are already understaffed. Protecting the growing enterprise from the security threats of tomorrow requires a more manageable and maintainable security strategy.

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Zero Trust Is a Core Pillar for Balancing Business and Security Needs

A corporate security policy should complement, not conflict with an organization’s business needs. Corporate security programs should be designed to support business processes and goals such as:

  • Remote Access: Employees need remote access to corporate resources, but the company needs to ensure that this remote access does not create additional risk to the organization. Corporate security programs should provide secure, high-performance remote access to corporate resources.
  • Access Management: Access management is essential to managing corporate security risk and maintaining regulatory compliance. Access control policies should allow legitimate users efficient access to corporate resources while preventing unauthorized access.
  • Compliance: Companies must be able to achieve and demonstrate compliance with a growing array of regulations. This includes global network visibility and security controls that meet regulatory requirements.

A zero trust security architecture provides a logical balance between security and business needs. With zero trust, access is granted to corporate assets on a case-by-case basis with decisions made based on least privilege access principles. This ensures that legitimate users have the access needed to do their jobs while minimizing the impact of compromised accounts and other intrusions. Additionally, authenticated users’ sessions should be monitored and terminated if risky or malicious activity is detected.

However, a zero trust security strategy is only useful if it can be enforced consistently across an organization’s entire corporate WAN without compromising network performance. Traditional, perimeter-focused security strategies — depending on virtual private networks (VPNs) and security appliances — force choices between network performance and security.

Zero Trust Security Requires a Strong, Stable Foundation

The effectiveness of a zero trust architecture depends on the solutions that it is built on. Zero trust must consistently apply access controls and security policies across the entire corporate WAN. If a weak point exists in an organization’s defenses, an attacker can use it as an entry point to gain access to corporate resources.

Implementing consistent security protections across the enterprise can be a significant challenge. The modern corporate WAN is composed of a variety of environments, including on-prem and cloud-based deployments, as well as IoT and mobile devices alongside traditional computers. These varying environments and endpoints affect the security solutions that can be deployed, which can result in a security architecture that suffers from visibility and enforcement gaps and complex management and maintenance.

However, while endpoints may differ across the corporate WAN, the network is mostly consistent regardless of environment. Deploying access management and security controls at the network level makes consistent enforcement of zero trust access controls and security policies possible.

Security Service Edge (SSE) and Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) provide an ideal foundation for a zero trust architecture. They converge zero trust network access (ZTNA) — which offers the access management that zero trust requires — with the tools needed to secure legitimate users’ sessions, including Firewall as a Service (FWaaS), an intrusion prevention system (IPS), a secure web gateway (SWG), and a cloud access security broker (CASB). In SASE solutions, these security functions are combined with built-in network optimization technologies to apply zero trust access controls and enterprise-grade security protection before routing traffic on to where it needs to go.

Cato provides the world’s most robust single-vendor SASE platform, converging Cato SD-WAN and a cloud-native security service edge, Cato SSE 360, including ZTNA, SWG, CASB/DLP, and FWaaS into a global cloud service. With over 75 PoPs worldwide, Cato optimizes and secures application access for all users and locations, and is easily managed from a single pane of glass. Learn more about how Cato SASE Cloud can help your organization to build a zero trust architecture that grows with the organization by signing up for a free demo today.

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