Securing Microservices in a Zero Trust Environment

Microservices provide a great number of advantages over a monolithic architecture but they also make securing the stack a greater challenge. Read this article to know how to deal with this challenge and make a secure service in a Zero Trust Environment.

Microservices are becoming an integral part of software development processes because of the agility and scalability they offer. When software is broken down into smaller components (microservices), developers can easily conduct update and maintenance operations without risking the operability of the whole system.

However, microservices create significant security concerns. They increase network complexity by adding up to a thousand parts to the network structure. A complex network also means that you have more surfaces that are vulnerable to attacks. Luckily, Zero Trust brings the much-needed security to microservices.

What is a Zero Trust Environment?

The Zero Trust security model was first introduced by security analyst John Kindervag in 2010. In his article, Kindervag argues that cyber security is much more straightforward when companies have zero trust in devices, networks, or connections.

The Zero Trust model creates a safe environment for business networks thanks to the principle of "never trust, always verify." In this approach, every device and user who wants to access a specific network is continually verified. A zero-trust environment basically doesn't have any implicit trust even for the devices in its network.

If you think about implementing a zero-trust environment to a microservices architecture, this model would translate into non-trusting components of a greater software or network. Thus, every part of the system asks for verification from each other repeatedly.

Since this is a cloud-first and usually cloud-only model, adopting a Zero Trust model is much easier than you might think. If you're looking to implement this security model, you can check out NordLayer Zero Trust solution which is our suggestion in terms of affordability and reliability. Nord Security is a well-known cybersecurity provider with great reviews and over the top security services.

How to secure microservices with a Zero Trust environment

The best way to ensure the security of a microservices architecture is probably adopting a Zero Trust approach. In general, if each component of a bigger software eliminates implicit trust in each other, they will be more ready and alert for potential cyber-attacks. Let's see in detail how a Zero Trust environment can help secure microservices.

Continuous authentication in service-to-service authorization

One of the most concerning issues about microservices is the possibility of one service getting compromised and accessing other services. This disastrous scenario will infect your whole software or network.

Implementing a zero-trust environment can help your microservices architecture with this issue. In this model, each service requests verification of other services and also their certificates before granting access and authorization. Thus, all components verify whether a requestor service can be trusted or not.

These authentications and authorizations can be granted depending on the context, user or device behavior, or certain access policies.

Secure communication between microservices

All parts of the structure within a microservices architecture communicate to operate smoothly. They always need to interact with each other as the whole system depends on all of them. Securing these interactions is a must to protect structural integrity.

Let's say you have a network consisting of consumers' personal information which needs to stay confidential at all costs. A Zero Trust model can help microservices deliver these sensitive data to each other in a secure, encrypted way.

Zero Trust is also great to ensure a possibly compromised service will not get the shared sensitive information. If the system cannot verify that particular service, it won't be able to join the interaction between other services.

Automated threat response and increased visibility

In a microservices architecture that can extend to hundreds of services, detecting each threat for each service is impossible for IT security teams. They will basically have no visibility over a complex structure like this.

A Zero Trust approach can automate threat detection and response processes if you put certain policies to it. They can also increase your visibility by defining the roles of the services and also delivering you a detailed threat report, especially with the help of AI.

You can easily see which services were granted to or rejected from accessing, and investigate the possible causes. It's a great way to have control over the whole architecture.

Zero Trust environments are here to secure microservices

Microservices are great for developers who don't want the whole system to go down when they carry out their operations. They offer a better user experience and less maintenance. It's the perfect structure that is greater than the sum of its parts.

IT security professionals rightfully have security concerns about microservices because of the increased number of attack surfaces they create. Well, now they have Zero Trust; the bulletproof tool that completely secures microservices and facilitates their work.


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