What is a software defined perimeter (SDP)?

The evolution of the corporate network has rendered legacy security models and solutions obsolete. Software Defined Perimeter solutions, which are devised to limit access to resources only to authorized users, offer cybersecurity and access management designed for the modern enterprise.

The evolution of network has rendered legacy security models and solutions obsolete. Software Defined Perimeter (SDP) solutions, which are devised to limit access to resources only to authorized users, offer cybersecurity and access management designed for the modern enterprise.

A Software-Defined Perimeter is an approach to computer security that segments or separates network access. It establishes direct connections between users and the resources they access. The Cloud Security Alliance established the SDP in 2013 as a solution for robust networks that reduced the risks of data breaches. 

SDPs are more secure alternatives to conventional perimeter-based networks such as a Virtual Private Network (VPN). The infrastructure supports a zero-trust protocol, where every user is denied access by default and requires a stringent verification process. SDP verifies access through a two-step approach, which includes user identities, or something the user know’s, and devices, or something a user has. 

SDPs restrict User network access to a need-to-know basis, establishing private dedicated connections between users and servers. The network is location and infrastructure-agnostic, enabling IT experts to deploy gateways from anywhere to monitor user activities remotely. SDP’s flexibility supports global implementation and the customization of automated access policies. 

SDP ensures that devices are valid and authorized, which is crucial in a BYOD (bring your own device) workplace where employee systems may be compromised. Software-defined perimeters also eliminate the security risks from IoT devices that are easily accessible from third-party sources. SDP’s dynamic functions connect users to any application through a process without tedious management processes while maintaining strict access to required IT resources. 

A Software-Defined Perimeter focuses on three main functions it relies on.

How Does a Software Defined Perimeter Work?

Each user needs to authenticate their identity and device before access, within, or beyond a network. SDP collects the information from a third-party identity provider (IdP) before conveying the details to the SDP controller.

Once the user and device are authenticated, an individual network connection is established between the device the server.

The SDP controller is the logical component of the network that validates the provided information through a mutual TLP (transport layer security). Mutual TLPs are network security protocols that authenticate the legitimacy of users and service providers before enabling a safe encrypted connection. 

SDP gateways grant access to users upon confirming authentication from the controller. The established connections are exclusively accessible by authenticated user and service providers. Once an individual network connection is established, a user can access the Internet, but no other user can access that individual network and the network connection only includes the assets that the user has approved access to.

Zero Trust

It uses micro-segmentation to install the axiom of least privilege to a network. It eliminates the surface of attack. 

Identity-Centric

It operates around a user’s identity and not a user’s IP address.

Cloud Ready

It operates in cloud networks and provides expandable security. SDP Software authenticates and authorizes all endpoints trying to access a particular infrastructure. It also makes unauthorized networks inaccessible. This reduces the surface area of attack by hiding network resources to unauthenticated or unauthorized users.

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Cybersecurity Engineer | Website

Jordan is a Cybersecurity Engineer who has consulted in numerous sectors such as finance, education, manufacturing, and public sector organizations within the United States.