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Guardicore vs. VLANs. No Contest. All That’s Left is Deciding What to Do with Your Free Time

A fast-paced business world deserves security solutions that can keep up. Speed isn’t everything, but reducing complexity and time when deploying a new strategy can be the difference between success and failure. Let’s look at the process of segmenting just one business critical application via VLANs, and then compare how it works with Guardicore Centra micro-segmentation. Then you can decide how to use all that spare time wisely.

VLANs – How Long Does it Take?

If you decide to go down the VLAN route, you will need to spend around 4-6 months preparing your network and application changes. On the networking side, teams will configure switches, connect servers, and generally get the network ready for the new VLANs. On the application side, teams will build a migration strategy, starting with discovering all the relevant infrastructure, making changes to application code where necessary and preparing any pre-existing dependent applications for the change ahead of time.

After this 6-month period, you can start to build policy. It can take anywhere from 2-4 months to submit firewall change requests and have fixes and changes signed off and approved by the firewall governance teams. Meanwhile, your critical applications remain vulnerable.

Once you’re ready to move on to policy enforcement, you’ll need to spend a weekend migrating the application to the new VLAN. This includes manually reconfiguring IP addresses, applications and integration points. Don’t forget to warn your users, as there will be some application downtime that you can’t avoid. Altogether, you’ve spent up to 10 months performing this one segmentation task.

VLANs vs Guardicore

Guardicore Centra – How Long Does it Take?

Now let’s take a look at how it works when you choose smart segmentation for hybrid cloud and modern data center security with Guardicore. The preparation time is just a few days, as opposed to half a year, while Guardicore agents are deployed onto your application. This installation is simple and painless, and works with any platform. Labeling is also done during this time, integrating with your organizational inventory such as CMDB or cloud tags. Guardicore’s Reveal platform automatically discovers all traffic and flows, giving you an accurate map of your IT ecosystem, in real time, and continues to give you historical views as you proceed as well.

As policy creation is automatic, your policy suggestions can be tested immediately, and then run in ‘alert mode’ for two weeks while you tweak your policy to make sure it’s optimized to its full potential. When you’re ready to go – pick a day and switch from alert to enforce mode, with no impact on performance, and no downtime.

You’ve Just Saved 9 Months – Let’s Use It!

With security handled, and 9 months of time to kill, here are just some of the things you could achieve in your organization.

Start a Language Lunch Club

quick segmentation - start a language lunch club

90% of employees say that taking a regular lunch break helps them to feel more productive in the afternoon. Despite this, most of us often grab a quick sandwich, or don’t even manage to get up from our desks. Why not use some of your newfound company “free time” to encourage teams to eat lunch together, socializing and enjoying some much needed down-time? This time ‘off’can give colleagues a chance to get to know one another, forming new friendships, social bonds and levels of trust between your staff. If you want to try to combine this with learning a new skill and further enriching your staff (expanding their minds and improving memory and brain function), you could start a language club where your team members can learn basic skills that can support them in reaching global customers. With 180 hours to kill – that’s a whole lot of lazy, or super-productive, lunches!

Play with Lego!

quick segmentation - play with lego

Many organizations struggle with how to make team meetings more productive, especially when everyone is always so short on time. If you’re known for sharing memes like “I survived another meeting that should have been an email,” then isn’t it time you did something about it?

Lego Serious Play is one great methodology that can get staff thinking and working outside of the box. As 80% of our brain cells are connected to our hands, building and creating can unlock hidden thoughts and ideas. It’s also a fantastic way to get input from quieter team members, as it works for both introverts and extroverts, and uses visual, kinaesthetic and auditory communication. If you have some free time left over, why not try beating the world record for the tallest Lego tower, built in Tel Aviv in 2017. You’ll have to make it to 36 meters to stand a chance though!

Put more Time into Health and Wellness

quick segmentation - put time into health and wellness

With more time in the day, there’s no need to take shortcuts that adversely affect your health. Tell your employees to skip the elevator and take the stairs, or to come in slightly later and cycle instead of jumping on available public transport. If your staff take the stairs twice a day for the whole nine months of saved time – that’s 12,600 calories, or the equivalent of 50 pieces of cheesecake!

Research has shown that employees who have work wellness programs report taking 56% fewer sick days than those without. Use some of the free time you’re saving to set up 8:30am or 5:00pm wellness classes, such as yoga, mindfulness, aerobics or Zumba and give your employees more reasons to love coming to work! Activity also encourages greater focus and productivity while on the job, so consider it a triumph to flex the muscles of your body and your mind.

Do More with Your Day Job

quick segmentation - do more with your day job

Spend some time getting to know other departments in the company, sitting down with Procurement to understand recent contracts, or heading over to R&D and having that conversation you’ve been meaning to have about Intellectual Property. Nine months makes 1440 hour-long coffee meetings! Better yet, why not plan a stint to an at least semi-exotic location to visit your offshore development teams on site? Allow yourself a bit of time out of the office while getting some all-important face-time with other members of your team.

You could also use some of your extra time to visit some customers or other stakeholders in the supply chain, identifying the risks that they pose to your organization and the mitigation you could put in place. Interested in some more informal professional development? It’s the perfect time to start a training to develop or expand a new skill, or mentoring some junior employees, or think about your own career enrichment. After all, you’ve just saved nine months!

Encourage Innovation

quick segmentation - encourage innovation

Most people have heard of Google’s 20% rule, where employees are encouraged to work on side projects, new hustles, or research for 20% of their working day. But for many companies this is a huge privilege – only possible if you have enough time in the day to get all the urgent work off your desk- which we know is never the case. But now with more time to play with, literally, you can implement some enforced innovation time. With 9 months of extra time to use up, it will take four and a half years of an hour a day before your staff have used up the surplus.

Now It’s your Turn to Innovate: What Will Your Teams Do With Their Free Time?

Why not draw up a bucket list of what you could do with an extra nine months, and how it could benefit your company?

Take a look at the seven steps to operationalize micro-segmentation so you can see just how simple it would be to get started.

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Guardicore is Excited to Support AWS Outposts

Like the real clouds that can be seen in the Earth’s atmosphere, the IT clouds are constantly changing in the DCsphere. Last year, AWS announced plans to expand the public cloud into on-premises data centers and introduced AWS outposts, which will allow customers to run AWS infrastructure on-premises or other co-location facilities, creating a new type of hybrid cloud. AWS customers expect to have a consistent experience managing infrastructure on the public cloud or Outposts.

Today, I am excited to share the news that we will support AWS outposts just like any other part of the hybrid cloud. Together with AWS and their hardware partners we are looking forward to expanding the Guardicore ecosystem to additional areas of the ever-expanding cloud.

Guardicore will support the two variants of AWS Outposts: both VMware Cloud on AWS Outposts by using the same VMware orchestration integration we already have as well as the AWS native variant of AWS Outposts running on premises.

I am looking forward to sharing specific use cases in the upcoming days.

Read more about our ever-evolving capabilities for AWS security and stay tuned for more details on this exciting news and other collaboration.

Want to know more about how Guardicore, a trusted AWS technology partner, helps you nail hybrid cloud security by partnering with AWS? Download our white paper on the shared security model.

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Segmenting Users on AWS WorkSpaces – Yes It’s a Thing, and Yes, You Should Be Doing It!

I recently came across a Guardicore financial services customer that had a very interesting use case. They were looking to protect their Virtual Desktop (VDI) environment, in the cloud.

The customer’s setup is a hybrid cloud: it has legacy systems that include bare metal servers, Solaris and some old technologies on-premises. It also utilizes many Virtual environments such as VMware ESX, Nutanix and Openstack.

Concurrently with this infrastructure, the customer has started using AWS and Azure and plans to use containers in these platforms, but has not yet committed to anything specific.

One interesting element to see, was how the customer was migrating its on-premises Citrix VDI environment to AWS workspaces. The customer was happy using AWS workspaces and had therefore decided to migrate to using them in full production. AWS workspaces were especially useful for our customer since the majority of its users work remotely, and it was so much easier to have those users working with an AWS WorkSpace than relying on the on-premises, Citrix environment.

So, what is an AWS WorkSpace anyway?

In Forrester’s Now Tech: Cloud Desktops, Q4 2019 report, cloud desktops and their various offerings are discussed. Forrester states that “you can use cloud desktops to improve employee experience (eX), enhance workforce continuity, and scale business operations rapidly.” This is exactly what our customer was striving to achieve with AWS WorkSpaces.

AWS Desktops are named “Amazon WorkSpaces”, and they are a Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS) solution that run on either Windows or Linux desktops. AWS provides this pay-as-you-launch service all around the world. According to AWS “Amazon WorkSpaces helps you eliminate the complexity in managing hardware inventory, OS versions and patches, and Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI), which helps simplify your desktop delivery strategy. With Amazon WorkSpaces, your users get a fast, responsive desktop of their choice that they can access anywhere, anytime, from any supported device.”

To get started with AWS workspaces click here.

Our customer was using AWS WorkSpaces and scaling their utilization rapidly. This resulted in a need to add a security layer to these cloud desktops. In AWS when users access the WorkSpaces, upon access, they are automatically assigned a workspace, and a dynamic IP. Controlling this access is challenging using traditional network segmentation solutions that are IP based. Thus, our customer was looking for a solution with the following features:

    • Visibility:
      • First and foremost within the newly adopted cloud platform
      • Secondly, not just an understanding of traffic between legacy systems on-premises and in the cloud individually, but visibility into inter-platform communications, too.
    • Special attention for Amazon WorkSpaces:
      • User-level protection: Controlling which users from AWS workspaces should and could interact with the various applications the customer owned, on-premises or in the cloud.
      • Single policy across hybrid-cloud: What was once implemented on-premises alone, now needed to be implemented in the cloud, and not only in the cloud, but cross cloud to on-premises applications. The customer was looking for simplicity, a single tool to control all policies across any environment.

Tackling this Use Case with Guardicore Centra

Our customer evaluated several solutions, for visibility, segmentation and user identity management.The customer eventually choose Guardicore Centra, for the ability to deliver all of the above, from a single pane of glass, and do so swiftly and simply.

Guardicore was able to provide visibility of all workloads, on premises or in the cloud, across virtual, bare metal and cloud environments, including all assets, giving our customer the governance they needed of all traffic and flows, including between environments.

On top of visibility, Centra allowed an unprecedented amount of control for the customer. Guardicore policies were set to control and enforce allowed traffic and add an additional layer of user identity policies to control which users from the AWS workspaces could talks to which on-premises applications. As mentioned previously, upon access to AWS workspaces, users are automatically assigned a workspace, with a dynamic IP. Thus traditional tools that are IP based are inadequate, and do not provide the flexibility needed to control these user’s access. In contrast, Guardicore Centra enables creating policies based on the user’s identity to the datacenter and applications, regardless of IP or WorkSpace.

 

Where Guardicore Centra Stands Apart from the Competition

Guardicore Centra provides distributed, software-based segmentation, enabling user identity access management. This enables additional control of the network, among any workloads.

Centra enables creating policy rules based on the identity of the logged in user. Identities are pulled from the organizational Active Directory integrated with Centra. Centra requires no network changes and no downtime or reboot of systems. Policies are seamlessly created, and take real time effect, controlling new and active sessions alike.

This use case is just one example of how Guardicore Centra simplifies segmentation, and enables customers fine-grained visibility and control. Centra allows an enterprise to control user’s access anywhere, setting policy that applies even when multiple users are logged in at the same time to the same system, as well as managing third party, administrators and network users’ access to the network.

Want to learn more about securing and monitoring critical assets and applications on AWS? Join our live webinar with AWS on Thursday, December 12th at 1:00pm Eastern.
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Environment Segmentation is your Company’s First Quick Micro-Segmentation Win

We often tell our customers that implementing micro-segmentation technology should be a phased project. Starting with a thorough map of your entire IT ecosystem, your company should begin with the ‘low hanging fruit’, the easy wins that can show quick time to value, and have the least impact on other parts of the business. From here, you’ll be in a strong vantage point to get buy in for more complex or granular segmentation projects, perhaps even working towards a zero-trust model for your security.

One of the first tasks that many customers take on is separating environments from one another. Let’s see how it works.

Understanding the Context of your Data Center

Whether your workloads are on-premises, in the cloud, or in a hybrid mix of the two, your data center will be split into environments. These include:

  • Development: Where your developers create code, try out experiments, fix bugs, and use trial and error to create new features and tools.
  • Staging: This is where testing is done, either manually or through automation. Resource-heavy, and as similar as possible to your production environment. This is where you would do your final checks.
  • Production: Your live environment is your production environment. If any errors or bugs make it this far, they could be discovered by your users. If this happens in this environment, it could have the greatest impact on your business through your most critical applications. While all environments are vulnerable, and some may even be more easily breached, penetration and movement in this environment can have the most impact and cause the most damage.

Of course, every organization is different. In some cases, you might have environments such as QA, Local, Feature, or Release, to name just a few. Your segmentation engine should be flexible enough to meet any business structure, suiting your organization rather than the other way around.

It’s important to note that these environments are not entirely separate. They share the same infrastructure and have no physical separation. In this reality, there will be traffic which needs to be controlled or blocked between the different environments to ensure best-practice security. At the same time however, in order for business to run as usual, specific communication flows need to be allowed access despite the environment separations. Mapping those flows, analyzing them and white-listing them is often not an easy process in itself, adding another level of complexity to traditional segmentation projects carried out without the right solution.

Use cases for environment segmentation include keeping business-critical servers away from customer access, and isolating the different stages of the product life cycle. This vital segmentation project also allows businesses to keep up with compliance regulations and prevents attackers from exploiting security vulnerabilities to access critical data and assets.

Traditional Methods of Environment Segmentation

Historically, enterprises would separate their environments using firewalls and VLANs, often physically creating isolation between each area of the business. They may have relied on cloud platforms for development, and then used on-premises data centers for production for example.

Today, some organizations adapt VLANs to create separations inside a data center. This relies on multiple teams spending time configuring network switches, connecting servers, and making application and code changes where necessary. Despite this, In static environments, hosted in the same infrastructure, and without dynamic changes or the need for large scale, VLANs get the job done.

However, the rise in popularity of cloud and containers, as well as fast-paced DevOps practices, has made quick implementation and flexibility more important than ever before. It can take months to build and enforce a new VLAN, and become a huge bottleneck for the entire business, even creating unavoidable downtime for your users. Manually maintaining complex rules and changes can cause errors, while out of date rules leave dangerous gaps in security that can be exploited by sophisticated attackers. VLANs do not extend to the cloud, which means your business ends up trying to reconcile multiple security solutions that were not built to work in tandem. Often this results in compromises being made which put you at risk.

A Software-Based Segmentation Solution Helps Avoid Downtime, Wasted Resources, and Bottlenecks

A policy that follows the workload using software bypasses these problems. Using micro-segmentation technology, you can isolate low-value environments such as Development from Production, so that even in case of a breach, attackers cannot make unauthorized movement to critical assets or data. With intelligent micro-segmentation, this one policy will be airtight throughout your environment. This includes on-premises, in the public or private cloud, or in a hybrid data center.

The other difference is the effort in terms of implementation. Unlike with VLANs, with software-based segmentation, there is no complex coordination among teams, no downtime, and no bottlenecks while application and networking teams configure switches, servers and code. Using Guardicore Centra as an example, it takes just days to deploy our agents, and your customers won’t experience a moment of downtime.

Achieve Environment Segmentation without Infrastructure Changes

Environment segmentation is a necessity in today’s data centers: to achieve compliance, reduce the attack surface, and maintain secure separation between the different life stages of the business. However, this project doesn’t need to be manually intensive. When done right, it shouldn’t involve multiple teams, result in organizational downtime or even require infrastructure changes. In contrast, it can be the first stage of a phased micro-segmentation journey, making it easier to embrace new technology on the cloud, and implement a strong posture of risk-reduction across your organization.

Want to learn more about what’s next after environment segmentation as your first micro-segmentation project? Read up on securing modern data centers and clouds.

More Here.

Guardicore Centra Security Platform Verified as Citrix Ready

Micro-segmentation Solution Enables Strong Security for Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops by Isolating Workloads and Preventing Lateral Movement

Boston, Mass. and Tel Aviv, Israel – November 12, 2019 – Guardicore, a leader in internal data center and cloud security, today announced its solution has been verified as Citrix® Ready. The Citrix Ready technology partner program offers robust testing, verification, and joint marketing for Digital Workspace, Networking, and Analytics solutions – with over 30,000 verifications listed in the Citrix Ready Marketplace. Guardicore completed a rigorous testing and verification process for its Guardicore Centra security platform to ensure compatibility with Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops, providing confidence in joint solution compatibility.

“Using Guardicore Centra’s micro-segmentation capabilities, Citrix customers can now more effectively create and enforce policies that isolate Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops securely, delivering a Zero Trust approach and preventing unauthorized access as well as lateral movement,” said Sharon Besser, Vice President of Business Development, Guardicore. “By integrating with critical technologies from Citrix and other members of our partner ecosystem we enable customers to maximize the value of existing investments while transforming security in the cloud and software-defined data center.”

“The Guardicore Centra security platform delivers a simple and intuitive way to apply micro-segmentation controls to reduce the attack surface, detect, and control breaches,” said John Panagulias, Director, Citrix Ready. “With this integration and Citrix Ready validation, we can offer customers integrated security solutions that combine Guardicore Centra with Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops to protect virtual workloads while enhancing productivity.”

Virtual desktop infrastructure deployments require effective security controls that can scale without losing visibility and control. Unlike traditional deployments where end-user machines can be physically isolated from the data center and controlled and monitored, securing virtual environments requires a different approach, especially when applying principles of Zero Trust. Micro-segmentation is central to the network virtualization paradigm. It enables better security for these environments by isolating workloads from each other, controlling and enforcing security policies that prevent lateral movement attacks. Guardicore augments Citrix Virtual Apps and Citrix Virtual Desktops with micro-segmentation, using its advanced capabilities for flows, applications and users to create secure zones that enhance the application of Zero Trust without compromising productivity or user experience.

Available now, Guardicore Centra supports Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops, and older versions of Citrix XenApp and Citrix XenDesktop. Guardicore Centra for Citrix products can be found immediately in the Citrix Ready Marketplace.

About Guardicore

Guardicore is a data center and cloud security company that protects your organization’s core assets using flexible, quickly deployed, and easy to understand micro-segmentation controls. Our solutions provide a simpler, faster way to guarantee persistent and consistent security — for any application, in any IT environment. For more information, visit www.guardicore.com.

Guardicore Achieves Microsoft IP Co-Sell Status: Available for Download on the Azure Marketplace – Here’s What That Means for You

A couple of weeks ago we announced that the Guardicore Centra security platform is available in the Microsoft Azure Marketplace. As you might know, Centra was available in the marketplace before, as Guardicore has worked with Microsoft for a very long time, providing various integrations as well as research for Azure and Azure Stack. Now, the latest version of Centra is available and Guardicore has achieved an IP Co-Sell status.

One of the most important capabilities that we developed for Azure provides Centra with real-time integration to Azure orchestration. This provides metadata on the assets deployed in your Azure cloud environment, complementing the information provided by Guardicore agents.

For example, information coming from orchestration may include data that can’t be collected from the VM itself, including: Source Image, Instance Name, Private DNS name, Instance Id, Instance Type , Security groups, Architecture, Power State, Private IP Address and Subscription Name.

Using this information, Centra will accelerate security migration from an on-premises data center to Azure.

In addition, we are very proud that Guardicore has achieved the Microsoft IP Co-Sell status. This designation recognizes that Guardicore has demonstrated its proven technology and deep expertise that helps customers achieve their cloud security goals. Achieving this status demonstrates our commitment to the Microsoft partner ecosystem. It also proves our ability to deliver innovative solutions that help forward-thinking enterprise customers to secure their business-critical applications and data with quick time to value, reduce the cost and burden of compliance, and securely embrace cloud adoption.

Banco BASE Selects Guardicore Centra Security Platform to Protect Critical Banking Applications

Guardicore Chosen for Superior Visibility and Segmentation Policy Management to Reduce Risks

Boston, Mass. and Tel Aviv, Israel – October 22, 2019 – Guardicore, a leader in internal data center and cloud security, today announced that Banco BASE, a Mexican financial group and a leader in financing and foreign trade industries, is deploying Guardicore’s Centra Security Platform to provide advanced data center security.

“Banco BASE has built its success by providing the most innovative financial solutions, with agile and personalized service,” said Prudencio Frigolet Gómez. Director of Technology and  Operations at Banco BASE. “A big part of our commitment to our customers is ensuring the protection of their critical data and availability of services. Guardicore Centra gives our IT team deep visibility into east-west traffic for our critical banking applications and the ability to reduce risk with micro-segmentation.”  

Banco BASE is part of the Mexican Financial Group Grupo Financiero BASE. With over 32 years of experience, Banco BASE provides products for corporate and private banking, including loans, investments, digital accounts and currency exchange. 

“We are honored Banco BASE has selected Guardicore to help protect their most critical applications,” said Pavel Gurvich, co-founder and CEO of Guardicore. “Banco BASE quickly recognized that a new, software-defined approach to segmentation is essential for reducing risk and simplifying ongoing policy management for critical applications and payment systems like SWIFT.”

Guardicore’s flagship product, the Centra Security Platform, is a comprehensive data center and cloud security solution that delivers the simplest and most intuitive way to apply micro-segmentation controls to reduce the attack surface and detect and control breaches within east-west traffic. It provides deep visibility into application dependencies and flows and enforcement of network and individual process level policies to isolate and segment critical applications and infrastructure.

About Banco BASE

For nearly three decades, Banco BASE has specialized in providing companies with financial advice solutions, to help them grow and achieve their goals, through a strong services portfolio, including Foreign Currency, Hedging Instruments, Credit, Digital Accounts and Investments. We deliver very efficient financial services due to our network of offices in Mexico’s major cities from which we cover all the country; plus, we have as well a representation office in Toronto, Canada. Furthermore, we have correspondence relationships with the world’s main banks and most Mexican banks, which ensure our transparency, reliability and transaction swiftness.

Our credentials include: Rated by Standard & Poor´s, since February 2000 and by Fitch Ratings since 2006 always increasing our ratings; Approximately 2,000 FX transactions per day and a daily trading volume of USD $450 million; Members of the Association of Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialist (ACAMS) and founders of the Monterrey-Mexico Chapter; Placed among the 500 most important companies in Mexico, and a “Super Empresa” (one of the best places to work for) by Expansion Magazine (A Time Inc. Enterprise). Our best recommendation comes from our more than 20,000 satisfied national and international customers.

For more information, visit www.bancobase.com 

About Guardicore

Guardicore is a data center and cloud security company that protects your organization’s core assets using flexible, quickly deployed, and easy to understand micro-segmentation controls. Our solutions provide a simpler, faster way to guarantee persistent and consistent security — for any application, in any IT environment. For more information, visit www.guardicore.com.

Limitations of Azure Security Groups: Policy Creation Across Multiple vNets

In our previous post, we discussed the limitations of Cloud Security Groups and flow logs within a specific vNet. In today’s post, we will focus on another specific scenario and use case that is common to most organizations, discussing Cloud Security Group limitations across multiple regions and vNets. We will then deep dive into Guardicore’s value in this scenario.

In a recent analysis, Gartner mentions the inherent incompatibility between existing monitoring tools and the cloud providers’ native monitoring platforms and data handling solutions. Gartner explains that an organization’s own monitoring strategies must evolve to accommodate these differences.

As the infrastructure monitoring feature sets offered by cloud providers’ native tools are continuing to evolve and mature, Gartner comments that “Gaps still exist between the capabilities of these tools and the monitoring requirements of many production applications… Remediation mechanisms can still require significant development and integration efforts, or the introduction of a third-party tool or service.”

To understand the challenges faced when using native monitoring tools, in this post I’ll again share details from an experiment that was performed by one of our customers. The customer created a simulation of multiple applications running in Azure, and created security policies between these applications.

The lab setup

Let’s look at the simulation environment. There are multiple Azure subscriptions, and within each subscription, there is a Virtual Network (VNet). In this case, SubscriptionA is the Production environment based in the Brazil region, and SubscriptionB is the Development environment, based in West Europe. Each has its own vNet. Both VNets are peered together.

ASGs:
The team created 3 Application Security Groups (ASGs). Note that the locations correspond to the locations used for the Virtual Networks (VNets).

The customer wanted to test the following scenario:
Block all communication from the CMS application over port 80, unless CMS communicates over this port with the SWIFT and Billing applications.

However, CMS application servers reside in the West Europe region, and the Swift and Billing application servers reside in the Brazil South region.

In this scenario, with 2 Virtual Networks (vNets), our customer wanted to know, will an Application Security Group (ASG) that exists in one Virtual Network (VNet), be available for reference in the opposite Virtual Network’s (vNet’s) Network Security Group (NSG)? Would it be possible to create a rule with an ASG for the CMS App servers to the SWIFT & Billing applications even though they are in separate vNets?

The limitations and constraints of using Azure Security Groups were immediately clear

The team attempted to add a new inbound security rule from the CMS servers’ ASG to the SWIFT servers’ ASG. As you can see from the screenshot, the only Application Security Group (ASG) that appears in the list of options, is the local one, CMS servers ASGs.

Let’s explore what happened above. According to the documentation provided by Azure:
Each subscription in Azure is assigned to a specific, single, region.
Multiple subscriptions cannot share the same vNet.
NSGs can only be applied within a vNet.

Thus each region must contain a single vNet, and each region will have its own specific NSGs in place. The team attempted a few options to troubleshoot this issue using Security Groups.

First, they attempted to use ASGs to resolve this and create policies cross regions. However, the customer came up against the following Azure rule.
All network interfaces assigned to an ASG have to exist in the same vNet. You cannot add network interfaces from different vNets to the same application security group.
If your application spans cross regions or vNets, you cannot create a single ASG to include all servers within this application. A similar rule applies when application dependencies cross regions. ASGs therefore couldn’t solve the problem with policy creation.

Next, the customer tried combining two ASGs from different vNets to achieve this policy. Again, Azure rules made this impossible, as you can see below.
If you specify an application security group as the source and destination in a security rule, the network interfaces in both application security groups must exist in the same virtual network. For example, if AsgLogic contained network interfaces from VNet1, and AsgDb contained network interfaces from VNet2, you could not assign AsgLogic as the source and AsgDb as the destination in a rule. All network interfaces for both the source and destination application security groups need to exist in the same virtual network.

Simply put, according to Azure documentation, it is not possible to create an NSG containing two ASGs from different vNets.

Thus if your application spans multiple vNets, using a single ASG for all application components is not an option, nor is combining two ASGs in an NSG. You’ll see the same problem when application dependencies cross regions, like in the case of our CMS, SWIFT and billing applications above.

Bottom line: It is not possible to create NSG rules, using ASGs for cross-region and vNet traffic.

Introducing Guardicore to the Simulation

The team had an entirely different experience when using Guardicore Centra to enforce the required policy settings.

The team had already been using Guardicore Centra for visibility to explore the network. In fact, this visibility had helped the team realize they needed to permit the CMS application to communicate with SWIFT over port 8080 in the first place. The team was therefore immediately able to view the real traffic between both regions/vNets and within each region/vNet, visualizing the connections between the CMS application in West Europe and the SWIFT and Billing application in the Brazil region.

With Guardicore, policies are created based on labels, and are therefore decoupled from the underlying infrastructure, supporting seamless migration of policies alongside workloads, wherever they may go in the future. As the customer planned to test migrating the CMS application to AWS, policies were created based on the environments and applications, not based on the infrastructure or the underlying “Cloud” context.

A critical layer added to Guardicore Centra’s visibility is labeling and grouping. This context enables deep comprehension of application dependencies. While Centra provides a standard hierarchy that many customers follow, our labeling approach is highly customizable. Flexible grouping enables you to see your data center in the context of how you as a business speak about your data center.

Labeling decouples the IP address from the segmentation process and enables application migration between environments, seamlessly, without the need to change the policies in place. With this functionality, the lab team were able to put the required policies into place.

 

One of the most impactful things we can do to make Guardicore’s visualization relevant to your organization quickly, is integrate with any existing sources of metadata, such as data center or cloud orchestration tools or configuration management databases. In the case above, all labels were received automatically from the existing Azure orchestration tags.

As Guardicore does not rely on the underlying infrastructure to enforce policies, such as Security Groups or endpoint firewalls, policies are completely decoupled from the underlying infrastructure. This enables the creation of a single policy across the whole environment, and covers those use cases that are cross environment, too. In the case of Azure, it allowed our customer to simulate policies that cross vNet and Region, while doing so seamlessly from a single pane of glass.

Guardicore Now Available in the Microsoft Azure Marketplace

Microsoft Azure customers worldwide now gain access to the Guardicore Centra security platform to take advantage of the scalability, reliability, and agility of Azure to drive application development and shape business strategies

Boston, Mass. and Tel Aviv, Israel – October 8, 2019 – Guardicore, a leader in internal data center and cloud security, today announced the availability of its Guardicore Centra security platform in the Microsoft Azure Marketplace, an online store providing applications and services for use on Azure. Guardicore customers can now take advantage of the scalability, high availability, and security of Azure, with streamlined deployment and management.

Guardicore Centra helps accelerate security migration from an on-premises data center to Azure. Additionally, it supports hybrid clouds and can protect legacy applications for those customers that prefer to keep such applications in their traditional data centers while migrating other applications to Azure. The Guardicore Centra security platform is also among the first cloud and data center micro-segmentation solutions in the market to achieve Microsoft IP Co-Sell status. This designation recognizes that Guardicore has demonstrated proven technology and deep expertise that helps customers achieve their cloud security goals.

“By implementing Guardicore Centra, combined with the range of powerful tools from Microsoft Azure, customers are able to gain the highest level of visibility and implement micro-segmentation for enhanced security. And they can do it faster and more effectively than traditional firewall technology with our simple-to-deploy overlay that can go to the cloud, stay on-premise, or do both at the same time,” said Pavel Gurvich, CEO and cofounder, Guardicore. “Achieving this status demonstrates our commitment to the Microsoft partner ecosystem and our ability to deliver innovative solutions that help forward-thinking enterprise customers to secure their business-critical applications and data quickly, reduce the cost and burden of compliance, and secure cloud adoption.”

Sajan Parihar, Senior Director, Microsoft Azure Platform at Microsoft Corp said, “We’re pleased to welcome Guardicore and the Guardicore Centra security platform to the Microsoft Azure Marketplace, which gives our partners great exposure to cloud customers around the globe. Azure Marketplace offers world-class quality experiences from global trusted partners with solutions tested to work seamlessly with Azure.”

The Azure Marketplace is an online market for buying and selling cloud solutions certified to run on Azure. The Azure Marketplace helps connect companies seeking innovative, cloud-based solutions with partners who have developed solutions that are ready to use.

About Guardicore

Guardicore is a data center and cloud security company that protects your organization’s core assets using flexible, quickly deployed, and easy to understand micro-segmentation controls. Our solutions provide a simpler, faster way to guarantee persistent and consistent security — for any application, in any IT environment. For more information, visit www.guardicore.com.

The Risk of Legacy Systems in a Modern-Day Hybrid Data Center

If you’re still heavily reliant on legacy infrastructure, you’re not alone. In many industries, legacy servers are an integral part of ‘business as usual’ and are far too complex or expensive to replace or remove.

Examples include Oracle databases that run on Solaris servers, applications using Linux RHEL4, or industry-specific legacy technology. Think about legacy AIX machines that often manage the processing of transactions for financial institutions, or end of life operating systems such as Windows XP that are frequently used as end devices for healthcare enterprises. While businesses do attempt to modernize these applications and infrastructure, it can take years of planning to achieve execution, and even then might never be fully successful.

When Legacy Isn’t Secured – The Whole Data Center is at Risk

When you think about the potential risk of legacy infrastructure, you may go straight to the legacy workloads, but that’s just the start. Think about an unpatched device that is running Windows XP. If this is exploited, an attacker can gain access directly to your data center. Security updates like this recent warning about a remote code execution vulnerability in Windows Server 2003 and Windows XP should show us how close this danger could be.

Gaining access to just one unpatched device, especially when it is a legacy machine, is relatively simple. From this point, lateral movement can allow an attacker to move deeper inside the network. Today’s data centers are increasingly complex and have an intricate mix of technologies, not just two binary categories of legacy and modern, but future-focused and hybrid such as public and private clouds and containers. When a data center takes advantage of this kind of dynamic and complex infrastructure, the risk grows exponentially. Traffic patterns are harder to visualize and therefore control, and attackers are able to move undetected around your network.

Digital Transformation Makes Legacy More Problematic

The threat that legacy servers pose is not as simple as it was before digital transformation. Modernization of the data center has increased the complexity of any enterprise, and attackers have more vectors than ever before to gain a foothold into your data centers and make their way to critical applications of digital crown jewels.

Historically, an on-premises application might have been used by only a few other applications, probably also on premises. Today however, it’s likely that it will be used by cloud-based applications too, without any improvements to its security. By introducing legacy systems to more and more applications and environments, the risk of unpatched or insecure legacy systems is growing all the time. This is exacerbated by every new innovation, communication or advance in technology.

Blocking these communications isn’t actually an option in these scenarios, and digital transformation makes these connections necessary regardless. However, you can’t embrace the latest innovation without securing business-critical elements of your data center. How can you rapidly deploy new applications in a modern data center without putting your enterprise at risk?

Quantifying the Risk

Many organizations think they understand their infrastructure, but don’t actually have an accurate or real-time visualization of their IT ecosystem. Organizational or ‘tribal’ knowledge about legacy systems may be incorrect, incomplete or lost, and it’s almost impossible to obtain manual visibility over a modern dynamic data center. Without an accurate map of your entire network, you simply can’t quantify what the risks are if an attack was to occur.

Once you’ve obtained visibility, here’s what you need to know:

  1. The servers and endpoints that are running legacy systems.
  2. The business applications and environments where the associated workloads belong.
  3. The ways in which the workloads interact with other environments and applications. Think about what processes they use and what goals they are trying to achieve.

Once you have this information, you then know which workloads are presenting the most risk, the business processes that are most likely to come under attack, and the routes that a hacker could use to get from the easy target of a legacy server, across clouds and data centers to a critical prized asset. We often see customers surprised by the ‘open doors’ that could lead attackers directly from an insecure legacy machine to sensitive customer data, or digital crown jewels.

Once you’ve got full visibility, you can start building a list of what to change, which systems to migrate to new environments, and which policy you could use to protect the most valuable assets in your data center. With smart segmentation in place, legacy machines do not have to be a risky element of your infrastructure.

Micro-segmentation is a Powerful Tool Against Lateral Movement

Using micro-segmentation effectively reduces risk in a hybrid data center environment. Specific, granular security policy can be enforced, which works across all infrastructure – from legacy servers to clouds and containers. This policy limits an attacker’s ability to move laterally inside the data center, stopping movement across workloads, applications, and environments.

If you’ve been using VLANs up until now, you’ll know how ineffective they are when it comes to protecting legacy systems. VLANs usually place all legacy systems into one segment, which means just one breach puts them all in the line of fire. VLANs rely on firewall rules that are difficult to maintain and do not leverage sufficient automation. This often results in organizations accepting loose policy that leaves it open to risk. Without visibility, security teams are unable to enforce tight policy and flows, not only among the legacy systems themselves, but also between the legacy systems and the rest of a modern infrastructure.

One Solution – Across all Infrastructure

Many organizations make the mistake of forgetting about legacy systems when they think about their entire IT ecosystem. However, as legacy servers can be the most vulnerable, it’s essential that your micro-segmentation solution works here, too. Covering all infrastructure types is a must-have for any company when choosing a micro-segmentation vendor that works with modern data centers. Even the enterprises who are looking to modernize or replace their legacy systems may be years away from achieving this, and security is more important than ever in the meantime.

Say Goodbye to the Legacy Challenge

Legacy infrastructure is becoming harder to manage. The servers and systems are business critical, but it’s only becoming harder to secure and maintain them in a modern hybrid data center. Not only this, but the risk, and the attack surface are increasing with every new cloud-based technology and every new application you take on.

Visibility is the first important step. Security teams can use an accurate map of their entire network to identify legacy servers and their interdependencies and communications, and then control the risks using tight micro-segmentation technology.

Guardicore Centra can cover legacy infrastructure alongside any other platform, removing the issue of gaps or blind spots for your network. Without fear of losing control over your existing legacy servers, your enterprise can create a micro-segmentation policy that’s future-focused, with support for where you’ve come from and built for today’s hybrid data center.

Interested in learning more about implementing a hybrid cloud center security solution?

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