Automation helps introduce Zero Trust


Regulated access to data in the enterprise Automation helps introduce Zero Trust

Many companies are currently introducing zero-trust security models. Automation simplifies the process by improving collaboration between security and IT operations teams and simplifying the management of hybrid cloud infrastructures.

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Automation simplifies teamwork while helping to enforce permissions and track security breaches.Automation simplifies teamwork while helping to enforce permissions and track security breaches. (Image: Thedigital Artist / Pixabay )

Zero trust security models or zero trust architectures are actually nothing new. Developed by an analyst over ten years ago, they are now finally gaining acceptance as an effective model for enterprise security.

The basic principle is to regulate and authenticate privileged access to corporate data and systems. However, Zero Trust is very extensive and complex, ranging from corporate data centers to private and hybrid clouds to a growing number of edge systems.

If Zero Trust is to deliver on all of its promises, a unified framework is needed for security and IT operations teams to work together as a SecOps unit to manage the large and complex IT and cloud environments they serve.

Zero Trust encourages Chief Information Security Officers (CISOs) and their teams to adopt a whole new way of thinking by providing them with tools to conduct thorough risk analysis for everything that happens inside and outside the enterprise perimeter. Traditionally, the focus has always been on assessing and combating external threats.

However, the recent past has shown that threats within the company’s infrastructure, such as hidden security breaches that remain undetected for weeks or even months, pose an equally high risk. With Zero Trust, security teams handle both internal and external risks to assess, monitor and minimize threats.

IT teams grow together

In order to understand how SecOps teams can successfully deploy Zero Trust, we must first acknowledge that enterprise security is not a homogenous whole, but consists of solutions from different manufacturers operated by different and often isolated teams.

There are many different levels of enterprise security and automation already helps in many places with integrations and the regulation of responsibilities. This has resulted in automated processes and workflows that contribute to a more open culture of collaboration.

In the same breath, new communication channels have been established through which once independent teams can exchange opinions, solve problems together and discuss new ideas. This has created even closer ties between SecOps teams and their Itops and NetOps colleagues, creating a more unified, dynamic and therefore safer environment.

All of this becomes possible when security organizations use an open framework based on a universal and easily programmable language. Teams from different fields can then exchange information, share critical information and give each other access to different systems and applications. Combined with an appropriate management layer, this model is ideal for managing complex environments with solutions from multiple vendors.

When security and IT teams have a better understanding of each other’s tasks and responsibilities, they make it easier to cooperate and work together as one entity. The use of automated systems that support enterprise security functions can establish new processes and reduce human errors.

This change comes at a time when companies are increasingly exposed to dangerous attacks. The risks posed by security breaches-after some sensational incidents – now occupy the management levels. Security automation helps companies address this challenge while providing them with the foundation for zero Trust.

Restrict and isolate intruders

Once invaded the company, attackers usually move further laterally and disrupt systems, manipulate data or steal it. If the intruders remain undetected, they can cause chaos and cause great damage.

Zero trust architectures are therefore accompanied by a network segmentation that restricts the attackers ‘ movements, isolates them, and reduces the impact of their actions. In a zero trust environment, a profile is assigned to all users, devices, and applications based on, among other things, digital identities, device security checks, and application validation

Depending on the profile, the entities are granted limited access rights. This prevents attackers from moving freely within the infrastructure, but it is also a precise and methodical approach to allowing real users, devices and applications access when they need it.

Microsegmentation is only one aspect of a zero trust strategy, but it shows well how powerful the concept is. However, enforcing granular permissions based on the profile of a user or digital asset is a complex process. Automation helps to implement the process programmatically and also on a large scale. It also ensures that new technologies and solutions that expand or replace existing systems are implemented in accordance with zero trust requirements.

Minimize the reaction time

Against the backdrop of emerging threats and an IT infrastructure that is constantly evolving, automation helps SecOps teams adapt quickly. Policies can be changed, systems and processes reconfigured to respond to short-term changes or requests. This can happen both at the micro level with very specific problems and at the macro level with issues that affect the whole company.

An efficient automation platform allows SecOps teams to coordinate different technologies, ecosystems and solutions from individual manufacturers – both on-premises and in the cloud. It helps to streamline processes and improve efficiency. It supports the zero trust model by enabling organizations to test and implement zero trust models in the first place and update their framework of security policies, no matter how complex.

Automation helps teams scale exponentially in the event of business or market changes. And it gives you greater control over your environment by improving the management of risks and constantly evolving IT landscapes.

Open source supports automation

Open source is an integral part of automation, just as open source plays an important role in other areas of the company. CISOs are experts in risk management; they continuously review all security measures-whether they deliver, what they promise, whether they support the requirements of the business, and whether they comply with legal requirements and best practices.

CISOs appreciate that open source solutions are fully integrated into the IT stack of companies, and are pushing for them to be sourced with comprehensive enterprise support. This gives them the freedom and flexibility to connect with communities and drive innovation, but also to introduce reliable solutions that fit into an overarching strategy for security automation.

Zero Trust allows companies to develop a security strategy from the inside out, but the model requires careful planning, implementation and continuous management. Security automation helps security and IT teams work together and develop a common security practice for the entire, complex infrastructure they need to manage and protect. You can move an additional layer of protection between IT infrastructure and distributed cloud resources.

Massimo Ferrari

Massimo Ferrari (Picture: Red Hat)

Automation can also be used to create shared processes and share information so that problems can be quickly identified, diagnosed and resolved before they escalate. CISOs can also make informed decisions about the investments and solutions they need to meet business needs and deal with current and future threats.

* Massimo Ferrari is Consulting Product Manager, Ansible Security, at Red Hat.


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