Orchestration & Zero Trust

This is our final stop in a blog series walking through Zero Trust and how achievable it is. Previous entries:

The last piece of the Zero Trust puzzle: orchestration.

Let’s embrace a harsh reality up front: automation does scare some people at a micro-level when it comes to job stability. We’ve seen reports that somewhere between 47-54% of jobs will be automated out by 2030. Fortunately for security folks, automation is the answer – not the problem – to being more successful.

There’s just too much happening in network security. Threats emerge every day. Rules are obsolete by the time of deployment. The attack surface keeps spreading. (Hello, IoT!) Staffing is ramping up, but even that supply of talent isn’t meeting the demand. Burnout is common.

You know this because you live it.

The solution is finding ways to automate what you’re doing.

That’s where orchestration comes into play in terms of Zero Trust.

Orchestration is automation on steroids. It brings the Zero Trust ecosystem and consolidates the operation. This both reduces risk and makes Zero Trust manageable. Manually it would be impossible.

First: what do traditional access change workflows tend to look like?

Generally it’s something like this:

Open Ended Up to 1024 Px Wide - orchestration-workflow.jpg

These approaches are a management burden, because you have to account for every possible contingency before making a single move.

That won’t work in a Zero Trust ecosystem for a couple of reasons.

  • There are way too many enforcement points to keep track of manually. By the time you’d reach the end of this chart, you’d have a backlog of new change requests piled miles high.
  • Once you’ve finally implemented the change, it’s likely the network needs have shifted. You just wasted a bunch of time, effort, and salary on something that’s instantly not relevant.

What needs to happen instead?

Orchestration, instead, removes all that manual work, understanding what should be happening in your network and automatically commanding security to every enforcement point. You now have a central control over thousands of enforcement points and millions of controls and rules — as well as absolute precision with sub-second adaptations to Zero Trust fluctuations. 

It’s the only possible path.

To quote Forrester’s report on the Zero Trust eXtended Ecosystem:

“Avoid solutions that function in isolation and opt for those that integrate to form an ecosystem to aid better visibility and control across the ecosystem and robust orchestration of security defenses.”

You want to be a conductor of your security network. You want all the pieces playing together and the potential for rapid response. That’s what orchestration does.

Tying it all together

As we acknowledge our current-state (visibility), take note what could happen (analysis), determine what’s permissible (security intent), orchestration moves at the speed of Zero Trust and allows Zero Trust to fully come together.

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