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Does Your Enterprise WAN/ SD-WAN/ SASE Meet Your Compliance Needs?

In this blog post, we'll explain how to assess whether or not your SD-WAN or SASE infrastructure meets your industry's compliance requirements.

sd wan sase compliance
Matt Pinto

Jan 17, 2024

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We live in a fast-paced world driven by technology. The only constant is change and Wide Area Networking (WAN) is no exception to this rule. We’ve seen the rise of smart use cases for moving servers, phone systems, and business-critical applications into the cloud, which has created a need for a cloud-centric WAN model that properly accounts for this augmented WAN perimeter. 

Several elements of Software-Defined Wide Area Networking (SD-WAN) are hosted on cloud resources, and even more elements of Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) infrastructure typically live in the cloud and affect the security posture of an enterprise. For many Lightyear users, whether these cloud-based solutions can meet the compliance needs of their industry is a critical question that must be answered before deployment.

The Cloud and Compliance

Let’s start by managing expectations. If you’re looking for a simple answer to the cloud and compliance, there isn’t one. Why?

No single network topology holistically meets all compliance requirements. 

Rather, the network framework you use should be set up to align with the components that contribute to the overall regulatory compliance your business is trying to achieve (or maintain). The specifics of compliance vary considerably by industry and are shaped by the unique challenges each industry faces. However, there are some common compliance requirements. It’s critical your security and compliance officers are aware of your compliance needs, and they can communicate these to the network providers with whom you work to validate specifics.

Common Compliance Needs in Networking

Here are some of the compliance challenges common to enterprise networking.

Documentation

Almost all compliance frameworks involve creating and documenting policies and procedures that outline your business’ security posture, employee policies, and incident response procedures.

Physical Security

Physical network elements should be installed in a secure physical environment. In all networking solutions, there are going to be elements that are installed at the customer site. The business will be responsible for ensuring that it’s installed in a secure environment.

Employee Training 

Human, or Social, Engineering is a sneaky cyber threat where employees or other individuals are manipulated to compromise network security elements. A few common tools are phishing attacks, impersonation, and pretexting. Your business will be responsible for ensuring that your employees are regularly participating in security awareness training.

User Authentication and Level of Access

Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA), Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA), and Cloud Access Security Brokers (CASB) are all tools that can be used to ensure users are properly authenticated and only able to access data and network areas that directly relate to their job functions. Many of these tools are available via SASE network components. Your business compliance officer should play a key role in determining and scrutinizing which business tools and applications each user should be able to access to ensure this solution is smartly deployed.

Comprehensive Network Security 

Web gateways, firewalls, antivirus software, and other common tools build in layers of smart security to any network’s compliance needs. Some of these need to be properly integrated with a SASE deployment and will need to be configured accordingly. 

Data Protection 

Ensuring the security and safety of client data is paramount. The encryption of data at rest on servers and within applications, as well as in transit, is a critical tool in that fight. There are several decisions IT leadership and compliance officers must make about where data is stored and safeguarded. Once this framework is known and understood, the use of network security elements will come into play, ensuring it complements your wider data-security topology.

Ongoing Maintenance 

Remember, compliance is never one-and-done. Keeping your security appliances up to date with patches, performing vulnerability scans (a.k.a. penetration testing), and conducting configuration audits should be standard as part of your ongoing maintenance. Some of these could be offered as part of a SASE product, while some will be the sole responsibility of the business.

These are, of course, not the only factors that should be factored into networking regulatory compliance. It is an ongoing, ever-changing landscape. However, these are core elements of most regulatory standards and should be a critical part of your networking security plan. 

The Lightyear Telecom Operating System was created to help enterprises make smart, informed decisions about their WAN topology. If you’ve enjoyed this blog, and you have any additional questions about how different network topology elements will affect your regulatory compliance, the Lightyear Platform can help you. Feel free to reach out today.

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