Philip Cao

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Software-Defined Perimeter Architecture Guide Preview

4 min read

cyber security, lockThe Software-Defined Perimeter (SDP) Working Group was founded five years ago, with a mission to promote and evangelize a new, more secure architecture for managing user access to applications. Since the initial publication of the SDP Specification, we’ve witnessed growing adoption and awareness throughout the industry. As practitioners, vendors, evangelists, and guides, we (as the SDP working group) have learned a great deal about SDP in practice, and wanted to capture and share that knowledge.

This was the driver for us to create the forthcoming Software-Defined Perimeter Architecture Guide. We’ve decided to publish a preview blog series here to obtain feedback on this work-in-progress artifact, and to spark conversation about SDP architectures and deployments. Ultimately, we intend the final published Architecture Guide—scheduled for publication in Q4 2018—to encourage broader (and more successful) adoption of SDP architectures.

Please join the conversation in the SDP working group here—we’re open to feedback, questions, or even just good restaurant recommendations. Thanks for reading this, and we look forward to engaging with you.

In this first blog posting, we’re going to walk through the SDP Architecture Guide outline and provide color commentary. Keep in mind that this document is still a work-in-progress, so the content and structure may well change prior to publication. Let’s dive in:

  • Introduction
    • Why We Wrote This Document
    • Target Audience
    • Goals
    • SDP Scenarios

In the introduction, we provide the motivation for the document, articulate who our target audience is, and explain our goals. Then, we enumerate SDP scenarios (AKA use cases), briefly explaining each one, and exploring the benefits that SDP provides in that scenario.

  • SDP, Zero Trust, and Google’s BeyondCorp

In addition to SDP, there is a lot of noise and activity in today’s marketplace around the Zero-Trust philosophy, and to some degree about Google’s internal BeyondCorp security initiative. In this section, we attempt to make sense of this and explain the similarities and differences between them.

  • SDP Overview
    • Core SDP Concepts
    • SDP Architecture
    • SDP Deployment Models
      • Client-to-Gateway Model
      • Client-to-Server
      • Server-to-Server Model
      • Client-to-Server-to-Client
      • Client-to-Gateway-to-Client
      • An Alternative Architecture: The Cloud-Routed Model

This section presents the foundational elements of SDP, including its core underlying concepts. We also dive into the SDP architecture and discuss each of the SDP deployment models.

    • Single-Packet Authorization
      • SPA Benefits

Single-Packet Authorization (SPA) is one of most important parts of SDP. By compensating for the fundamentally open (and insecure) nature of TCP/IP, SPA enables secure and reliable deployment of SDP Controllers and Gateways onto insecure and public networks. In this section, we analyze the SPA protocol, suggest some improvements, and expand upon its benefits to SDP.

    • SDP Policy Model
      • SDP Policy Overview
      • Policy Components

SDP, as a specification, is silent on a policy model. In this section, we introduce the elements that an SDP policy model should have and the corresponding capabilities that an SDP platform should be able to express. We conclude this section with a few example policies.

  • SDP in the Enterprise
    • Architecture Considerations
    • Security and IT Technologies
      • SIEM
      • Firewalls
      • Intrusion Detection/Prevention Systems
      • Virtual Private Networks
      • Next-Generation Firewalls
      • Identity and Access Management
      • VPNs
      • NAC
      • SDN
      • IDS / IPS
      • EMM / MDM
      • Web Application Firewalls
      • Cloud Access Security Brokers

This section introduces a simplified (but prototypical) enterprise model, exploring how each of the Security and IT technologies shown above are impacted by the deployment of SDP.

  • SDP Business Benefits

We conclude with the business benefits that SDP can deliver. This section, which will be constructed in a tabular format, will provide an overview of these benefits. We look forward to providing more detailed, quantified benefits and case studies in a future document.

Thanks for reading through the outline. In our next blog post in this series we’ll talk through the SDP Core Concepts table.

Jason Garbis is Vice President of Secure Access Products at Cyxtera, a provider of secure infrastructure for today’s hybrid environments, where he leads strategy and management for the company’s security solutions. Jason has over 25 years of product management, engineering, and consulting experience at security and technology firms including RSA, HPE, BMC, and Iona. He is co-chair of the Software Defined Perimeter (SDP) Working Group at the Cloud Security Alliance, holds a CISSP certification, is a published author, and led the creation of the Cloud Security Alliance initiative applying Software-Defined Perimeter to Infrastructure-as-a-Service environments.

[Cloud Security Alliance Blog]

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