Improving Network Security With Software-Defined Networking

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Businesses today compete in an increasingly complicated IT environment. Nearly everyone from co-location providers, to traditional telco operators, international organizations and small and medium enterprises are adopting cloud solutions.

The migration to cloud is leading to massive changes in network design and security. Now your network needs to be automated, and requires highly advanced tools to improve security and help meet the challenges presented by digital transformation. At this point, software-defined networks are better positioned to respond to these challenges.

The impact of SDN on network appliances will be extremely positive for enterprises. This new technology has shifted the perception of value from hardware to software, and has made it crucial to understand the evolving cyber threat landscape and security challenges around SDN. 

How Does SDN Impact Network Security?
As security issues become more complex at the edge of the network, it’s no wonder that network and security professionals are looking for new ways to approach network protection. Nowadays, it seems like SDN is going to be the answer. Now is a good time to show how SDN can have a positive impact on network security. 

Centralized Network Control 
In a traditional network, devices (router/switches) make their own decisions locally about where and how best to send traffic. Importantly, SDN technology has the ability to route all traffic through a single, centralized controller. SDN can separate the control plane from the data or forwarding planes. It can “see” the entire network topology and architecture, including where the hosts connect to the network. In terms of network security, SDN can be used to route data packets through a single firewall and make IDS and IPS data capture more efficient.

Simplify Configuration 
Anyone who manages VLANs configurations knows it isn’t an easy task. VLANs are being used by companies for greater security. The more VLANs implemented within companies bring more complications for people managing them.

The SDN makes it easier to automate configuration and improves the traceability of those configurations. The introduction of SDN allows dynamic programming and restructuring of network settings, which reduces the risk of DDoS attacks. It is also worth adding that SDN has automatic quarantine capabilities. Quarantine may be subjected to a selected point or part of a network that has been infected with a malicious code.

Creation of High-level Network Policies
Rather than physically configuring security solutions, SDN facilitates the central management of security policies to make network operator roles more efficient and flexible. Moreover, SDN helps to move away from current management approaches such as SNMP/CLI and build more effective policy management. 

Easy to use Application Programming Interfaces (APIs)
Cloud APIs are interfaces presented by software and play a vital role in SDN controllers and applications. Easy to use APIs help to manage network resources, improve the efficiency of IT resources, and aid integration with IT tools. Additionally, a number of good cloud security practices have been introduced recently. However, there are still miscreants in the public clouds, which is why many companies still refuse to use cloud computing solutions. Cloud providers treat security as one of their highest priorities.

The pioneer in this respect was Amazon, which created its own audit trail which was completed by the Certified Advanced Security exam. Meanwhile, Cisco has announced the launch of ACI (Application Centric Infrastructure – one of the best Cisco solutions connected with SDN) integrations to work with Amazon. Fortinet, Microsoft (with its Microsoft Azure solution) and Google (with Google Cloud Platform) will also be included in this work. The whole process is aimed at applying global security policies. Users will be assured of the security of their data, everywhere in the world.

Has your company invested in a software-defined security strategy yet? SDN technology offers clients great benefits, but we need to remember that it also introduces security vulnerabilities. Attacks on software-defined networks are similar to those on other computer systems, including malicious software and attempts to obtain unauthorized physical or virtual network access.

Such destabilization of infrastructure can lead to failure within an organization. It opens the possibility of a user capturing "uncontrolled" traffic and raises the specter of “man in the middle attacks”. SDN introduces new risks and challenges, the biggest among them being the requirement to prepare an IT environment with care, so that there is no possibility of a third party hijacking the controller. Failure to do so would allow an attacker to initiate new network flows by sending fake messages to network devices.

SDN has both its advantages and its disadvantages. Therefore, it is critical to be clear about your network security priorities, how you understand SDN technology, and how you implement your SDN plans. Remember, accurate planning always reduces risk, and this is of particular importance in the case of software-defined networking security.

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