Menu
Is SDN your next security nightmare?

Is SDN your next security nightmare?

Before you jump into SDN, be aware that there might be some security risks

The big buzzword in networking these days is Software-Defined Networking (SDN),  a de-coupling of the data plane and the control plane that allows you to manage physical devices via a software-based controller sitting on a general purpose server.

There are numerous benefits associated with SDN. Instead of having to touch every switch and router, the controller enforces policies by using the OpenFlow standard to talk to the physical networking devices. Also, customers can theoretically use any OpenFlow enabled hardware, meaning you no longer have to buy all of your networking gear from the same vendor.

But before you jump into SDN, be aware that there might be some security risks. That's the view of Robert Hinden, an industry veteran and Check Point Fellow, who spoke at the RSA Conference.

+ ALSO ON NETWORK WORLD Hot, new products at RSA | A running list of stories from RSA +

Hinden points out that once you've established centralized control of your network on this server, what happens if that server is attacked? What if a hacker gains control of the SDN controller?

Theoretically, the hacker could direct traffic around your firewalls, insert malware into the network, run man-in-the-middle attacks or send traffic to compromised nodes.

Also, what happens when outages or bugs occur in the network? It's unclear today how the SDN controller would deal with network outages that might require the re-routing of traffic, Hinden says.

In addition to security concerns, Hinden questioned how well SDN can scale. He pointed out that traditional routing and switching is destination based, with the physical devices reading headers and using routing tables to send packets to the appropriate destination.

But SDN is flow-based, which is good because it allows network managers to create fine-grained policies. On the other hand, all of those flow entries must be sent out to all of the devices on the network. Hinden worries that this could get unwieldy.

On the other hand, Hinden sees some positives when it comes to SDN and security. The controller can push security policies to all routers and switches on the network, creating a uniform SDN security posture for all traffic.

Also, if there is a compromised host, for example, the controller can easily isolate that host from the rest of the network, he says.

While it's still very early in the SDN adoption cycle, Hinden recommends that networking teams and security teams begin working together, because in an SDN world, "all network staff will be responsible for security."

Read more about lan and wan in Network World's LAN & WAN section.


Follow Us

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags LAN & WANSDNrsa 2014

Featured

Slideshows

The making of an MSSP: a blueprint for growth in NZ

The making of an MSSP: a blueprint for growth in NZ

Partners are actively building out security practices and services to match, yet remain challenged by a lack of guidance in the market. This exclusive Reseller News Roundtable - in association with Sophos - assessed the making of an MSSP, outlining the blueprint for growth and how partners can differentiate in New Zealand.

The making of an MSSP: a blueprint for growth in NZ
Reseller News Platinum Club celebrates leading partners in 2018

Reseller News Platinum Club celebrates leading partners in 2018

The leading players of the New Zealand channel came together to celebrate a year of achievement at the inaugural Reseller News Platinum Club lunch in Auckland. Following the Reseller News Innovation Awards, Platinum Club provides a platform to showcase the top performing partners and start-ups of the past 12 months, with more than ​​50 organisations in the spotlight.​​​

Reseller News Platinum Club celebrates leading partners in 2018
Meet the top performing HP partners in NZ

Meet the top performing HP partners in NZ

HP has honoured its leading partners in New Zealand during 2018, following 12 months of growth through the local channel. Unveiled during the fourth running of the ceremony in Auckland, the awards recognise and celebrate excellence, growth, consistency and engagement of standout Kiwi partners.

Meet the top performing HP partners in NZ
Show Comments