Cloud Native / Culture / Security / Contributed

Reasons to Implement HashiCorp Vault and Other Zero Trust Tools

6 May 2021 11:00am, by

Rob Newsome
Rob Newsome is the head of product management at Stack.io — a Toronto-based business for technology companies that seek DevOps expertise through modern, open source solutions. With a passion for the people-first approach on both sides; end user and business, his aim is to build promoters of the service both inside and out.

You know those things — whether chores or tasks or projects — that you should do, but just don’t ever get around to?

Back in January Stack.io founder and CEO, Hany Fahim, was taking part in a virtual DevOps Toronto meet-up and towards the end of the conversation, talk turned towards credential security and management.

While there was a lot of thought around stop-gap measures, when Fahim had raised the suggestion of implementing Vault by Hashicorp there was an audible acknowledgment on the call of the effectiveness of this software. It was like everyone knew this was clearly the ideal solution, but also that they were not doing it themselves. A common response being that they would love to implement it, they just do not have the time.

This was one of those things that everyone knew they should do, they just don’t get around to it, which in the age of Zero Trust security, can be a gamble.

Zero Trust

Zero Trust addresses many security challenges that have been highlighted due to the exponential increase in remote workers, adding pressure to mobile workforce infrastructures. Zero Trust demands stringent verification as it assumes that any entity with access is a potential threat. Each entity is given an identity and assigned roles to which policies are attached, coupled with secrets used to verify the entity’s identity via an encrypted authentication process.

It was like everyone knew [implementing HashiCorp Vault] was clearly the ideal solution, but also that they were not doing it themselves. A common response being that they would love to implement it, they just do not have the time.

As the security layer transitions from a fundamentally “high trust” world enforced by a strong perimeter and firewall to a “low trust” or “zero trust” environment with no clear or static perimeter, the focus shifts from IP-based to identity-based access to resources.

This type of architectural approach, unsurprisingly, is not achieved overnight; rather, it comes into effect over a period of time. In order to get the ball rolling, we must look into assembling the right pieces of the puzzle. One significant piece is Dynamic Credential Rotation (DCR).

What Is Vault?

Vault is a secrets management system that is responsible for protecting sensitive information. It can be used to store sensitive credentials, grant access for any specific or particular data, as well as to authenticate users accessing respective secrets.

Ultimately, it applies a Zero Trust approach towards the retrieval of credentials and secrets. Vault’s modular secrets engine provides a centralized workflow for managing credentials for each respective system. Vault can be configured to issue unique credentials to each service instance requiring access. By doing this, each service instance receives a unique set of credentials.

Therefore, any abnormal access pattern can be mapped to the specific service instance and the credential can be revoked immediately. The software is designed to allow users to regulate access to credentials and to keep track of previous users that have accessed secrets. This management of credentials allows organizations to not only stay one step ahead of the curve but also facilitates the path towards a Zero Trust architecture.

So let’s talk Vault implementation, why is it a good fit for your organization?

  • Human error — mistakes happen!
  • Inadequate tools for managing credentials.
  • Employee turnover — Easily manage changes in your staffing and their access.

So, in other words, it is a good fit for pretty much any organization. Then why is it a daunting task to just implement it?

  • Learning curve.
  • Lack of time.
  • Lack of priority.
  • Lack of resources.

That said, it is not as daunting as you might think, more importantly, it does not need to be “one of those things” that you keep putting off.

Stay ahead of the curve! Click here to download our whitepaper on Secure Dynamic Infrastructure Management now and learn more about Vault, how to implement it, and how to keep ahead of changes in the world of DevOps and the security of your company.

Feature image via Pixabay.

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