Software-Defined Networking (SDN) is not a novel approach - it has been around in concept and practiced for nearly a decade. SDN involves the virtualization of network assets, offering greater visibility, scalability, and control. This action moves the network from being made up of individual pieces to a centralized dashboard.
A software-defined approach to security functions on the same principle, but instead of virtualizing the entire network, we add virtualized security components. Let’s take a look at the benefits of moving away from a traditional network security approach to a software-defined one.
SDN security defined
Software-defined network security involves virtualizing security functions from the traditional hardware they tend to operate on. They enforce virtual network functions, with data and monitoring accessible through one intuitive interface.
The latest generation of software-defined security applications make use of automation to better detect anomalies in network traffic and improve the enforcement of security policies. This makes it easier to detect suspicious activity more quickly and respond more efficiently to prevent intrusions and minimize damage in the event of a breach.
Benefits of SDN security
1. Network segmentation
One of the tenants – and intrinsic benefits – of software-defined network security is easier network segmentation. Network segmentation involves creating subnetworks inside of a larger network. Segmentation can help compartmentalize and organize your organization’s network traffic. For instance, it may restrict your sales department’s machines (physical or virtual) from communicating with your financial team’s machines.
This allows for more efficient bandwidth use by reducing the size of broadcast domains and reducing unnecessary traffic on the network. From a security perspective, it helps reduce an organization’s attack surface and thus restricts the area of data security breaches. Therefore, when one machine or application is infected, segmentation blocks it from affecting separate devices and applications.
2. Easier centralized remote management
Virtualized software-based network security is easier to manage from a single centralized dashboard. This means network and security administrators can access it and view it remotely, so if there is a breach, the relevant parties can be notified instantly.
The Covid-19 pandemic saw companies migrating their workforces offsite. Network security for remote and hybrid work environments must be more flexible. With software-defined security, your organization’s network security experts can track the security of all employees, no matter where they are. You can ensure that network security is consistent for onsite and offsite employees.
Virtualizing network functions such as firewalls facilitates a greater potential for automation. A good example of this is firewall architecture. Current firewall architectures do not scale well, and this may interfere with your business’s agility. Virtual network firewalls allow you to benefit from the same features as physical firewalls, but they add more agility, flexibility, and scalability.
Traditionally, to deploy and virtualize your network, you were required to script it manually. Today, companies can implement a turnkey solution to automate network firewall virtualization.
Furthermore, because functions like these are virtualized, they can be updated automatically – from their licensing to their policies. This makes it easier to keep up with the latest security trends. If you plan to migrate your databases or core network infrastructure, a virtualized infrastructure can offer a smoother transition,
A huge advantage of the virtualized and software-defined network is scalability. It’s far easier to scale virtualized processes and network components because they don’t require the purchase of new hardware. You don’t have to add more RAM and processing power to machines or buy new ones – especially if your virtual functions are running on a cloud server.
Most cloud vendors offer automated scaling. If your security requires more system resources, your vendor can provision new instances or services to it. And as your company continues to expand along with its network, its security requirements will also change. Security tools such as virtual firewalls can be deployed nearly at will, which allows for seamless growth in your operations.
5. Smaller physical footprint
Now that the physical network infrastructure doesn’t handle your security, it leaves a smaller physical footprint. Software-defined security is hosted on virtual machines. Multiple instances can be run from a single server, which may be located on the cloud. Virtualized functions can be scaled up or down depending on your company’s requirements at any given time which allows you to cut costs on infrastructure and service fees.
Furthermore, these days, security is built into network programs and other software as part of the development process. For software vendors, this means upskilling current employees through boot camps where they can learn how to code inherently secure software. For users, it means fewer resources are needed to secure their systems when software-defined security is built-in.
SDN security will help bring about other security trends, such as zero-trust network access and increased cloud adoption. The benefits of software-defined security are evident, and there is no reason to delay in implementing it in your organization.