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Software Defined Perimeter: What Security Does It Offer?

Software Defined Perimeter is a technology that fits into a context where virtualization and Cloud infrastructures are now predominant. The need is to offer users the possibility of remote access in a standardized way and to carry out their activities online without fear of becoming a victim of cyber attacks. What exactly is this innovative solution? What are the advantages? Let’s see every detail in this article.

What Is A Software Defined Perimeter

Software Defined Perimeter (SDP), which means software defined Perimeter, is a technology that controls access to resources through authentication processes to ensure security. It creates an actual virtual boundary around network resources and establishes a perimeter based on software rather than hardware. By doing so, it hides the corporate infrastructure from anyone who does not have regular permissions, making resources inaccessible and protected. 

The architecture connected to the Internet (therefore, the elements such as servers and routers), regardless of whether it is hosted on-site or in the Cloud, is consequently invisible to outsiders and potential attackers, who see their attack surface drastically reduced. But what differentiates a Software Defined Perimeter from other access-based control methods? The novelty is that the virtual boundary created is a perimeter at the network level, not at the application level, distinguishing itself from other solutions that limit user privileges but allow wide access to the network. Furthermore, an SDP authenticates not only the identity of a user but also the connected devices.

How An SDP Works

Thanks to a Software Defined Perimeter, it is not technologically possible to connect a server to a network unless authorized. The SDPs allow users to access only after verifying the user’s identity and evaluating the device’s status. What process starts next? As soon as the user and the device are authenticated, the SDP sets up an individual network connection between that device and the server it is trying to access. This way, the authenticated user does not log in to a more extensive network but has their own assigned network connection that no one else can access. It includes only the services they have permission to access. Just like a web server connected to the Internet but does not open other connections, does not accept requests, does not send replies, and has no open entry points.

The Advantages Of The SDP Related To Security

Why should a company rely on a Software Defined Perimeter? What are the advantages available? Let’s analyze the main ones:

  1. It’s an alternative to VPN – most businesses want to reduce or eliminate VPNs by looking for a faster, easier-to-manage, and more secure option.
  2. Secure multi-cloud access: thanks to an SDP, it is possible to use different cloud computing services in a single environment. You are not tied to any particular Cloud or network, and you can have a connection based on company policies regardless of where users connect, or apps are hosted.
  3. Risk reduction: Very frequently, third-party users obtain excessive access privileges creating holes in a company’s security system. With an SDP, only authorized users have access to the applications for which they have been granted permission, while the entire infrastructure remains invisible to outsiders.
  4. Constant monitoring: Thanks to the virtual network perimeter, control of the corporate architecture is increased, and network-based attacks and data breaches, such as DDoS, ransomware, and malware, are reduced.
  5. Accelerated M&A (Mergers and Acquisition) Integration: With traditional mergers and acquisitions, IT integration can be a process that can take several years to converge networks and manage similar IPs. An SDP simplifies the process and significantly reduces the time it takes to ensure M&A is successful.

A Software Defined Perimeter has many points in common with a VPN but has more significant advantages and is a much more secure solution.

The Zero Trust Model

Speaking of security, a Software Defined Perimeter can be defined as a way to implement the Zero Trust model effectively.

What Is It About?

It’s a concept that no user, device, or network is trusted by default: as the name implies, trust is zero and can only be granted under certain conditions. This model provides a rigorous identity check for every person and device attempting to access internal resources, whether inside or outside the Perimeter of the network (or the Perimeter defined by the software). Before verification, you are only entitled to the minimal network access they need. No device, not even a CEO’s personal computer, can establish a network connection with a resource it is not authorized to use.

SDN vs. VPN, Which One To Choose?

Software Defined Perimeters can incorporate Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) into their architecture to create secure network connections between user devices and the servers they need to access. However, there are substantial differences between the two technologies. SDPs are, in fact, more secure because – unlike VPNs, which allow all connected users to access the entire network – SDPs do not share network connections. Software-defined perimeters are also easier to manage than VPNs, especially if internal users need multiple access levels. This is because multiple VPNs can be deployed and configured simultaneously on the same network, risking compromising general security and accidentally creating access gates to a company’s confidential data.

The Software Defined Perimeter, on the other hand, establishes a private network connection for each user – as if they created a kind of private VPN for each – and there is no overall architecture that everyone who accesses the same resources accesses. Plus, they simultaneously verify devices and users, making it much more difficult for a hacker to break into the system with just stolen credentials. Finally, SDPs can be deployed anywhere to protect on-premise infrastructure, Cloud infrastructure, or both, easily integrate with multi-cloud and hybrid cloud deployments, and connect users anywhere despite not being physically within a company’s network perimeter.

Software Defined Perimeter, Open Source Solutions

Let’s now analyze the best vendors on the market and the most reasonable open-source solutions:

  1. Perimeter 81 SDP protects all hardware elements of a company’s Cloud network. It also marshals internal access to resources by authorized corporate users by integrating access rights management systems.
  2. Nord Layer: a network security service that connects sites, Cloud platforms, and remote users capable of implementing a software-defined perimeter or complete SASE technology.
  3. Good Access: offers a secure access service provided by the Cloud. The free version offers a basic VPN; the paid plans provide a complete software-defined perimeter strategy and Zero Trust environments.
  4. Twingate SDP: Apply the Zero Trust model to any business infrastructure without needing on-site hardware or software changes.


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