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What is Zero Trust?

Zero Trust is a security model that enables the DevSecOps team to deal with vulnerabilities that have arisen with massive digital transformations like cloud adoption, decentralized infrastructure, and container technologies. Though these have enabled teams to deliver products and services efficiently, the traditional security models pose a massive threat. The idea of trusting anyone inside the organization’s network is a massive flaw that needed rethinking.

The core of the Zero Trust security model is to trust no one and always verify. This approach establishes a hard rule to always validate every digital interaction. Zero Trust framework assumes an organization’s network security is always at risk to external and internal threats. It helps organize and strategize a thorough approach to counter those threats.

 

DevSecOps is all about integrating security into the DNA of DevOps framework. Let us understand some key tenets that can help the DevSecOps team to follow a path in their journey towards a Zero Trust Security ecosystem.

Top reasons why zero trust is so important for your Continuous Delivery Pipeline.

A Zero Trust ecosystem is difficult to achieve from a technical and cultural aspect, but the effects are broad-reaching. It will also be time and resource-intensive. But it is essential that DevSecOps Teams must begin their journey towards it. Let us discuss some reasons why Zero Trust has become so important to implement.

1. Perimeter security is obsolete

Traditionally, IT organizations assumed anything inside their network was secure. These perimeter security strategies for a container environment are an invitation for disaster. Systems that are geared to deflect external attacks are very vulnerable from the inside. A trojan file is a very dangerous software that can cripple the whole IT ecosystem.

2. Cloud is less secure

Organizations have distributed multi cloud applications and services that are accessible from anywhere in the world and on any device. When an organization deploys their application on a public cloud like Google Amazon or Azure, the data is now outside the safety of their on-premises servers.

 Solar winds mega breach and Colonial Pipeline’s DarkSide Intrusion are two examples where entire infrastructure could be compromised from malware attacks.

3 Implementing Security best practices is as important as coding

While microservices and distributed architecture enable agility and scale, they bring in additional responsibilities for the developers and Engineer. Besides writing business logics and codes, they have to tackle security and networks as well.

4. Remote is the new normal

Organizations have adopted a new business model where their workforce will be global and working from disparate locations. With customers and employees logging in the IT network from across Ips and across borders and across devices, it is getting difficult to maintain the safety and security of the connection. Employees’ home environments are more vulnerable to compromise, putting the business at risk.

5. Patchwork leads to vulnerabilities

Organizations leveraging patch work security practices become more susceptible to threats and their security teams end up spending more time on maintaining these.

6. Security adoption is lagging.

Delivery Orchestration tools have enabled teams to speed up deployments. Organizations can deploy applications into productions on demand. But this pace of innovation hasn’t kept pace with innovation in security due to lack of focus and robust security tools.   

Zero Trust core principles

Zero Trust aims at securing your data, applications, and network by providing an identity-centric policy model for controlling access. DevSecOps teams can achieve this by adhering to the three core Zero Trust principles from the foundation.

1. Ensuring all resources are connected and accessed securely, regardless of location

castle and moat model

In a Zero Trust ecosystem, DevSecOps teams must ditch the castle and moat model of security and open the applications’ access to the world wide web, securely. In doing so, they remove the barriers that have existed between security tools and teams. 

This principle also mandates that all humans and machines must have secured access to all resources, such as data applications and servers. This access must be provided regardless of the location of identity, location of data, or technology of the resource being accessed.

In short, teams must design systems that will encrypt network traffic and mandate access only through an policy model.

2. Adopting a least privilege strategy and strictly enforcing access control.

The least privileged strategy has been around for many years, but because of the complexity, it was difficult to enforce. Before the DevSecOps culture, teams engaged in software delivery used to manage privileges as teams or groups where anyone belonging to a group would have uniform access. But Zero Trust adopts a compliance-based access where privileges are not limited to a particular group but to a role they have to play. The DevSecOps teams must frame compliance policies that will consistently manage access across locations and resource types and at both the network and application layer.

Current security solutions can either cater to a network or application layer. Bridging the disconnect between them has been difficult. Users with their devices gain broad access to a network but rely on applications for authentication. For example, anyone can log in to a banking website, but only a user with banking access can access the application. This security flaw lets attackers use DDOS to stall servers and services.

With Zero Trust If users are not authorized to access a service (e.g., having credentials to SSH into a server, or to authenticate to a VPN), they must not have the ability to connect to that service at a network layer.

3. Inspecting and logging all events

Networks allow distributed components of IT to connect with one another. This is the sole reason why zero trust mandates inspection and logging of network traffic. So, it is important that the zero trust system must broadly examine and log network traffic metadata. But inspection of network traffic content must be done judiciously because it will cost a fortune to process and store it.

The zero trust system should enrich network traffic content by adding identity and context before feeding into the monitoring tools. This will enhance their ability to detect and alert incidents, thus improving response.

Extended Zero Trust principles

DevSecOps team must take security a notch further to achieve an enterprise-class Zero Trust environment.

1. Ensuring all components support APIs for event and data exchange.

With disparate systems, DevSecOps teams must standardize all communications for extensibility. A Zero Trust system should enforce a holistic security policy where nothing will be a silo anymore. As stated by the first policy of the core principle, all components of the ecosystem must be able to integrate with one another.

 These integrations will not only help in exchanging data and information, but also initiate a response to security events. (3rd core principle)..Every siloed component adds friction, thus diminishing the effectiveness of a Zero Trust system. Whereas, every IT component integrated with the ecosystem will add value.

2. Automating actions across environments and systems, driven by context and events.

Automation is crucial in achieving a Zero Trust environment of any scale. Zero Trust relies on dynamic access control rules which change depending on identity, device, network, and context. Automated enforcement of the changing policies across the ecosystem is necessary. Dynamic policies ensure that external and internal entities remain trustworthy by being subjected to repeated assessments of security.

Automation doesn’t mean “automatic.” For example, if a workflow needs the approval of a manager to meet security and compliance guidelines, the human needs to read and verify before submitting a decision.

3. Delivering tactical and strategic value.

A Zero Trust project has a significant impact on infrastructure, teams, operations, and end-user experience. Though outcomes are positive, the DevSecOps team must ensure that they provide business value.

How does OpsMx help in achieving the Zero Trust system for your CICD pipeline?

Adopting the Zero trust guiding principles, OpsMx has emphasized on building robust pipelines that trusts no person, workflow, infra and network. Let us look at how OpsMx ISD can meet all the primary Zero Trust security requirements.

Secured connection: Restrict Access using OAuth, SAML, LDAP, X.509, Github teams.

OpsMx ISD can restrict access to pipelines, projects and accounts by hooking into the authentication systems that you are already using, such as OAuth, SAML, LDAP, X.509 certs, Google groups, Azure groups, or GitHub teams.

Least privilege strategy: No one has the keys to the kingdom.

Keep Spinnaker configuration files in source control while protecting secrets with a 3rd party secret store- HashiCorp Vault, AWS KMS/ Key Store, or Azure Key Vault.

Dynamic policy enables easy management of current and future compliance requirements. ISD gives DevSecOps teams the freedom and flexibility to tie policy and control into the rapidly changing IT services.

Smart Continuous event monitoring: make automated and informed decisions 

Instant visibility with correlated app visibility helps drive better decisions about app deployment, with rich insights and visibility into hidden relationships of Metrics, API Data, and Transaction Traces.

Further read:

Planning to implement zero Trust like security using Spinnaker? This might be of help.

Jyoti Sahoo

Jyoti creates delightful, rich and engaging content for business leaders and technology experts. He has delivered projects in Artificial Intelligence for Governments in the EU and clients in ANZ regions. On the sidelines he is a 3D printing enthusiast and a solar energy advocate.

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