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Zero-trust is a security concept that champions the idea that you don’t automatically trust anything outside or within predefined perimeters. Instead, you must verify anything that attempts to connect to enterprise systems before granting access.
It’s a concept that addresses the threat of lateral movement. Within enterprise networks, you can mitigate this threat through micro-segmentation and granular perimeter enforcement. In other words, it reaffirms the idea that users should always have only bare minimum access to complete their tasks.
The term was coined over a decade ago by former Forrester analyst John Kinderva. Recently, zero-trust started getting renewed attention with an explosion of cloud-native apps, the proliferation of microservices and containerization, and the masses moving to the cloud.
In a traditional perimeter-based security approach, companies could quickly define sub-perimeters within enterprise networks. We could do this by leveraging a specific set of controls based on the user, IP address, application traffic direction, and so on.
While this worked well in simple on-premises networks, it doesn’t cut it in cloud-native architecture. This is because applications are infrastructure agnostic, making such solutions irrelevant.
Zero-trust is built on the idea that any entity accessing corporate networks must continuously prove that they have the necessary rights and permissions to access any given asset or area. In this scenario, a simple username and password aren’t enough to be “trusted.”
This means that users will only have access enabled by specific permissions within an effective zero trust architecture (ZTA). Whenever user behavior is deemed suspicious or outside their usual purview, an automatic alert will be triggered.
Most modern zero-trust systems concentrate on device and user trust areas. This makes perfect sense, considering how companies think about cybersecurity. But in the cloud, there are many more variables that increase your risk exposure.
In response, other areas like application trust and data are coming into prominence in a cloud-first world. Instead of addressing security from just an identity standpoint, we must add breadth to strategies by addressing zero-trust from a controlled access standpoint.
With ZTA, we build the environment in a manner where users are blocked from accessing areas of the network, containers, applications, and data without permission.
In a way, this is a proactive solution that sets you off on a security journey that evolves with the threat. After all, achieving a “perfect zero-trust environment” takes a lot of work, and most of the time, it remains a work in progress.
In this scenario, you identify the “protect surface” with the network’s most vital and valuable applications, assets, data, and services. As the protect surface only contains what’s critical to the organization, its magnitude is much smaller than the overall attack surface. It’s also always knowable.
Once identified, observe how traffic moves across the network in relation to your protected surface. This approach helps you understand who the users are, their applications, how they connect to the network, and how they behave within the environment. This information helps enforce policies that ensure secure access to data.
Building robust ZTA comes down to understanding the interdependencies between all variables. Put strict controls in place as close to the protected surface as possible and create a micro perimeter around it. The micro perimeter moves with the protected surface.
We can set up a micro perimeter by implementing a segmentation gateway or what’s now called a next-generation firewall. This approach ensures that only traffic and applications with permission have access to the protected surface.
The segmentation gateway enables granular visibility into traffic. You can also enforce additional layers of inspection and access control with layer-based policies. These trust policies determine who gets to transit the micro perimeter and who doesn’t. You can take it a step further and add an extra layer of security by leveraging policy as code.
Magalix empowers organizations to define, manage, and deploy custom governance policies as policy-as-code using a robust OPA policy execution engine. We also implement the right workflows and playbooks and create compliance reporting and analytics.
As the policy-as-code framework leverages codified policies and automated enforcement, you can add an extra layer to your security protocols.
By shifting security left and using policy as code, businesses can quickly enforce governance standards across cloud infrastructure. Policy checks can also follow this with relevant rules in your cloud environment.
You can also quickly validate and ensure compliance across your infrastructure and embed it in your workflows. This means that you can monitor your infrastructure to quickly detect and respond to policy violations and more.
At Magalix, we help companies achieve a paradigm shift for application security. By leveraging policy as code and shifting security left, companies can move away from traditional security protocols and work seamlessly in cloud environments and across perimeters.
This approach enables DevOps teams to streamline the deployment process and accelerate time to market. To get a feel for how Magalix works.
Find out how to avoid misconfigurations in Kubernetes that may lead to security breaches or sensitive data leaks.
In this episode of the SaC, we will discuss with Daniel Feldman, Zero Trust Architecture, the SPIFFE and SPIRE project, and what the future holds for zero-trust networks.