Illumio today announced the launch of Illumio CloudSecure, an agentless solution designed to support zero trust security in public, hybrid, and multi-cloud environments. The new offering can be deployed on its own, or in combination with the company’s agent-based Illumio Core product.
In an interview with eSecurity Planet, Illumio CTO and co-founder PJ Kirner said the company’s key focus is on segmenting enterprise environments to minimize potential damage from ransomware, malware, and other cyber threats.
“They find a way in, whether it’s phishing or something else – but then to find all the valuable assets, they have to use lateral movements in those environments,” Kirner said. “And we stop that lateral movement.”
One way to visualize that process, Kirner said, is to picture a submarine. “A submarine is built for resilience in warfare,” he said. “And how is it built? It’s built with compartments inside, so when there’s a breach, they close that compartment off and the rest of the submarine doesn’t sink. That’s a great metaphor for what we do for people’s data centers and clouds.”
Securing Multi-Cloud Environments
Kirner said the company’s new offering was developed in response to a quartet of current trends. First, cloud service providers are innovating by providing more and more managed services to help manage everything from databases to AI/ML infrastructure. “This is an area that continues to grow, and we need to help the companies who are adopting that protect those environments,” he said.
Other growing trends, Kirner said, include Infrastructure as Code (IaC); the increasing use of both hybrid and multi-cloud environments; and the fact that more and more people beyond IT now have the ability to influence a company’s use of cloud infrastructure. “There’s more people involved, which means there’s more risk in those environments,” he said.
It’s important to keep in mind, Kirner said, that many companies, from pharmaceutical manufacturers to oil and gas companies, will always need at least some on-premises infrastructure for everything from manufacturing equipment to oil derricks. “All those things talk to the cloud, so they’re hybrid, and they’re going to be permanently hybrid,” he said.
At the same time, many companies have also worked their way into increasingly complex multi-cloud environments. “People have done AWS and Azure or GCP, and based on their business, they’ve chosen the right public cloud for them – and then the IT folks and the security folks are stuck with securing a multi-cloud environment,” Kirner said.
Further reading: CNAP Platforms: The Next Evolution of Cloud Security
Security in the Gaps
The growing challenge in all those environments lies in the risk introduced between infrastructure types – the risk in the gaps. “When you talk about this hybrid, multi-cloud world, there’s the gaps in between those things, and that’s where risk creeps in,” Kirner said. “That’s where people are worried, and that’s where people need tools to solve that part of the problem.”
It’s about managing the security risks not just of individual software and services, but of the connections between them as well. “You have to have a big picture,” Kirner said. “You can’t just zoom into things and independently validate them. It’s the sum of all of them that is really your system, and that’s what has to be secure – not just any individual components.”
Over time, Kirner said, complex, heterogeneous environments will increasingly become the norm. “People are trying to find the right place to do the right job that’s most cost-effective either in terms of operational cost or speed of innovation,” he said. “That’s what’s driving this heterogeneity of infrastructure. And it’ll be interesting to see over the years if it just becomes kind of one substrate – it doesn’t really matter where things are, it all needs to work, and people need to see it holistically.”
Between Illumio’s agent-based product Illumio Core and the new agentless CloudSecure, Kirner says the company is ideally positioned to bridge the gap between public cloud and on-premises environments. “That’s something that’s unique to Illumio’s market position in terms of how we’ve built things out – having both an agent-based approach and an agentless approach simultaneously to solve this problem, and then having a unified single pane of glass across all of that data,” he said.
Zero Trust as a Process
While most companies now understand the importance of zero trust, many still struggle with where to begin. “It’s all good to say, ‘Let’s do least privilege,’ but if you don’t have the telemetry and understanding of what’s actually going on, you can try to achieve least privilege, and guess, and end up breaking applications,” he said.
Kirner said it’s critical to start with small steps in the right direction, rather than trying to solve everything at once. “People have to find quick, easy wins that get them on the way to that strategy,” he said. “Being able to accomplish those things is important to building something that’s successful in the long term. Finding easy wins, being able to get something done quickly, I think, is one of the keys to success.”
And the most successful deployments view it as a process. “People need to embrace that, with zero trust, there’s no solution, no easy button, no way to solve it all right now – but there’s a lot of ways you can get started,” Kirner said. “And using products in the right way with the right tactics can get you to those early wins – and do it quickly.”
Flush with the confidence of a recent $225 million funding round, Illumio is betting that it can help customers get those wins.
For more on Illumio, read How Zero Trust Security Can Protect Against Ransomware