Remote Offices Make WAN Security a Big Headache for Companies

By: Jeff Bertolucci| - Leave a comment

Securing wide area networks (WAN), particularly at branch locations, continues to be a major challenge for large organizations. Enterprises struggle with a number of complex technical issues, such maintaining WAN security policies, managing network devices and controlling sensitive information in environments that may sprawl across multiple continents.

According to a recent Dimensional Research study sponsored by security vendor Versa Networks, WAN security issues are aggravated by large numbers of devices from multiple vendors at branch locations. The global survey, which polled 308 network professionals on five continents, had two primary goals: Explore how companies manage and secure their networks across branch locations, and study the benefits and challenges of a software-defined wide area networks (SD-WAN).

Too Many Devices and Vendors

As reported by Infosecurity Magazine, the Dimensional Research study found that managing remote sites is made even more complex by the sheer variety of network hardware at remote sites. Two-thirds of respondents said their companies manage more than six physical network and security devices at each branch. And 88 percent reported using multiple vendors, usually between two and five, to manage branch security and networks — another factor that adds complexity.

While nearly all respondents (97 percent) reported numerous WAN management challenges, most of their issues centered on remote sites. Their top five challenges were:

  • Managing network and security devices at branch locations (52 percent of respondents chose this).
  • Mitigating information security risks at branches (50 percent).
  • Deploying new network and security solutions at branches (42 percent).
  • Increasing costs due to growing traffic volume over the company’s multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) network (42 percent).
  • Amount of time it takes to bring up a new branch location (31 percent).

Over one-third of companies lacked proper security measures at remote offices, the survey found. When it came to deploying security solutions on branch networks, the respondents’ three biggest challenges were:

  • Growing network complexity due to cloud-based applications and mobile technology (37 percent).
  • Difficulty managing security policies across network devices (28 percent).
  • Not enough IT personnel (27 percent).

Deferring Action Is Common

Although they face numerous WAN security and management challenges at branch locations, companies are deferring actions that could fix these problems. Just 24 percent of respondents reported having an active project to reduce the number of network and security devices used in branch offices. Other respondents said they weren’t planning a device-reduction project (38 percent), or planned to launch one in the future (38 percent).

SD-WAN: A Possible Solution

Software-defined WAN and SD-Security may offer a solution to companies’ WAN security and management woes.

Nearly 6 in 10 companies surveyed would consider an SD-WAN managed service offering, the study found, and believe a managed solution would reduce costs, save resources and simplify things by making the service provider accountable for troubleshooting and other technical issues. In fact, 80 percent of respondents said they would prefer an integrated SD-WAN and security solution.

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About The Author

Jeff Bertolucci

News Writer

Jeff Bertolucci is a Los Angeles-based journalist specializing in technology, digital media, and education. His work has appeared in Kiplinger's Personal Finance, InformationWeek, PCWorld, Macworld, The Saturday Evening Post, The Los Angeles Times and many other publications.