Securing your Branches with Zero Compromise

Jul 28, 2023
5 minutes

This blog is part of the “Branch of the Future” series where we take a closer look at the four key tenets that next-generation SD-WAN and SASE provide to deliver a branch network that is digital-first, secure and powered by the latest AI/ML innovations.

Redefining Security and SD-WAN Solutions for Branch Locations

Organizations are constantly facing security threats. 65% of attacks originate from information disclosures when an application or cloud/internet service fails to protect user data.

At the same time, the explosion in IoT devices among branch locations has created new organizational security challenges. In fact, industry report states that there are 15 billion IoT devices in 2023 and that will double by 2030. A recent Palo Alto Networks Unit 42’s IoT Threat Report found that:

  • 57% of IoT devices are highly vulnerable.
  • 98% of all connected device traffic is unencrypted.
  • 83% of connected devices run an unsupported OS.

Unfortunately, current SD-WAN solutions fail to deliver the improved security outcomes required for today's branches.

Organizations continue to rely on security architectures and appliances implemented in centralized locations for all application inspections. However, the rise of the Internet, SaaS, and UCaaS apps forces businesses to implement these security tools locally at the branch edge. This approach becomes more difficult and costly as applications and branches are more distributed.

Moreover, security tools are often disparate point products, resulting in complex, fragmented security infrastructure. For instance, each tool serves a specific purpose, such as Data Loss Prevention (DLP), Firewall-as-a-Service (FWaaS), and Secure Web Gateways (SWG)—resulting in separate management interfaces and visibility challenges. Plus, organizations must ensure uninterrupted user access and constant data monitoring to maintain a robust security posture.

With the increasing prevalence of cyber threats, organizations must adopt a new approach to protect against attacks and secure valuable assets. Zero Trust has emerged as an essential component of this equation, offering a comprehensive security framework that ensures continuous protection across all aspects of the network.

Why the Evolution of Branches Calls for Distributed Cloud-delivered Security Services 

To overcome these challenges, today's branches need a highly distributed security service in the cloud. This cloud-delivered security solution should deliver Zero Trust Security natively integrated with SD-WAN to ensure seamless connections to the closest proximity for optimal application performance. Additionally, this service should support a full stack of security capabilities like zero trust network access (ZTNA), firewall as a service (FWaaS), cloud access security broker (CASB), and secure web gateway (SWG).

Most importantly, these services should be offered as a highly distributed multi-cloud solution, security nodes included. This approach can be the most effective line of defense in protecting people, apps, and things.

Prisma SD-WAN Protects all People, Apps and Things

One-Click Integration with Prisma Access 

Video conferencing and collaboration app adoption is ubiquitous. In fact:

  • 95% of organizations are already using cloud applications.
  • 48% of apps are moving at least half of their apps to the cloud in the next year.

Unlike legacy SD-WAN solutions that force integration with third-party security services or necessitate a complete security stack at the branch, Prisma SD-WAN offers a distinct advantage. It helps ensure the security of all directly accessed applications, encompassing SaaS, cloud, private, and internet applications, with the added benefit of Prisma Access by Palo Alto Networks. Prisma Access provides a highly distributed security service in the cloud, delivering a comprehensive stack of security capabilities accessible across all locations and applications.

Prisma SD-WAN offers the ability to identify and connect to the closest Prisma Access nodes automatically. As a result, all applications benefit from the enhanced security of zero trust through Prisma Access, without incurring any additional latencies that could negatively affect the end-user experience. In fact, it’s not uncommon for customers to notice performance improvements based on the sheer power and resiliency of the SASE backbone alone.

 ZTNA 2.0 Protecting all Apps and Users

The second major aspect revolves around adopting the appropriate security model when you're accessing different resources and apps. For instance, SaaS applications require CASB capabilities to be enforced, and accessing the internet applications might require a secure web gateway functionality to be applied against the traffic.

Prisma Access eliminates all fragmented solutions and combines security tools like FWaaS, NGFW, CASB, and SWG into one cloud-delivered security service - ZTNA 2.0. Prisma Access is delivered as a distributed cloud-delivered security service, all applications and users are protected with continuous trust verification and inspection.

Robust IoT Security

In addition to people and apps, organizations are now required more than ever to protect things. Prisma SD-WAN can help secure all IoT devices without the need for deploying any additional agents or sensors.

Prisma SD-WAN identifies all IoT devices at the branch and sends it to Prisma Access. Prisma Access takes this information, automates the IoT device classification with the power of AI and ML. In addition, Prisma Access is able to monitor traffic patterns, provide policy recommendations and enforce security policies to protect all IoT devices regardless of the vendor or the operating system.

Security + Visibility = Key

To reduce the complexities of modern branch environments, organizations need a complete security solution that combines Zero Trust principles with the benefits of SD-WAN.

By embracing ZTNA 2.0, enterprises today can ensure continuous trust verification and implement least-privilege access policies.

Palo Alto Networks' Prisma SD-WAN provides a powerful solution delivering the following benefits:

  • Exceptional user experiences
  • Protection against a wide range of threats (including those targeting IoT devices)
  • Automated complex IT operations

Curious about revolutionizing your branch architecture with an integrated platform approach to SD-WAN and SASE? Gain valuable insights by watching our complimentary on-demand virtual event. Discover how the power of AI/ML drives next-generation SD-WAN and SASE solutions for your branch network.

Subscribe to Sase Blogs!

Sign up to receive must-read articles, Playbooks of the Week, new feature announcements, and more.