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Software Defined Perimeter in 2024: Importance & Use Cases

The way employees work has significantly changed after Covid-19 pandemic. Remote/hybrid work becomes the new normal as 87% of businesses are embracing hybrid working in the post-pandemic era. Organizations invest in cloud platforms to replace on-premises technologies, allowing employees to work from anywhere. For instance, the average number of SaaS tools used per organization increased almost seven fold between 2017-2021 (see Figure 1). 

As a result, today’s cyber dangers are no longer limited to on-premises software and devices. Companies should change their traditional cybersecurity measures and adopt them to the “new normal of working”. In this post, we introduce software defined perimeter (SDP) in depth to minimize the cyber security risks of companies. 

Figure 1: Average number of Saas tools used per organization.

In 2017 an average company used 16 SaaS tools on average now this number is around 110.
Source: Statista

What is SDP?

SDP is a cybersecurity solution that minimizes the risk of external and internal threats. 

SDP masks web hardware (DNS, networks, and so on) from outside entities and hackers, whether it is located on-premises or in the cloud. The SDP aims to make the network perimeter software-based rather than hardware-based. Even though SDP makes a company’s servers and other infrastructure obscured to outsiders, authorized individuals can use the infrastructure. 

SDP takes a zero-trust approach to cybersecurity, based on the notion of continual authentication of users, devices, and networks. SDP’s least privilege access principle and micro segmentation ensure access for authorized documents only. As a result, it improves internal security and reduces the risk of hacking due to a smaller attack surface. 

SDP can be considered with a simple analogy as follows:  You live in a building complex with many rooms (one of which is yours) and with strong security. Every time you try to enter your house, security verifies your identity and issues you a pass. You can only use the elevator or stairs to reach the floor where your room is located with this pass, and the pass only opens your door to enter. As a result, the system reduces the threat of both internal and external threats.

You can read our article on Top 8 Cybersecurity Best Practices for Corporations to improve your cybersecurity posture.

What are the steps of gaining access with SDP?

As we mentioned before SDP is a cybersecurity solution that adopts a zero trust mentality. Therefore, a potential user should pass through following steps in order to have access to tools/data:

  1. User identity authentication: Permission to use the systems should be allowed exclusively to specific individuals, according to the principle of zero trust. As a result, continuous identity authentication becomes a crucial security feature. SDP mainly uses third-party identity providers like Google Authenticator to identify users.
  2. Device authentication: It checks whether the applications on the user’s device are up-to-date and scan for computer viruses. 
  3. SDP controller approval: The SDP controller directs users to the gateway to reach the micro segment that the user is allowed if the device and user are accepted.
  4. Secure connection development: Thanks to transport layer security, once the secure gate permits users in, nobody or servers can share this connection. 
  5. User access in an encrypted network: The user is separated from the public internet with an encrypted network.

Why is SDP important now?

The traditional cloaking instrument for networks is virtual private network or VPN. They are ineffective for today’s work practices since:

  • VPN does not allow micro segmentation: VPNs allow network level access which implies that users can see all resources once they access the system. Thus, it increases the attack surface for both internal and external threats.   
  • VPN provides lack of wifi and device security control: VPN is designed for office environments where office laptops and wifi are used for working therefore, they do not check the security of them. Nowadays, people are working via non-corporate gadgets and public wifis which requires constant authentication of devices.  
  • VPNs’ integration with major cloud platforms is challenging: In contrast to SDP solutions, which are typically pre-integrated with cloud platforms like AWS or Microsoft Azure, VPN solutions require hours of manual configuration to interface with them.

These are the reasons why 60% of businesses have already switched from VPNs to SDP.

3 SDP use cases  

  • Limits the consultants/contractors’ visibility over corporate data: SDP is adaptable and can be deployed for individuals or groups. So by using SDP, it is feasible to permit consultants or contractors access to only the systems and data they require. As a result, confidential information remains within the organization.
  • Limits developers’ visibility over corporate data: Similarly, if your organization outsources part of its IT tasks, using SDP to limit developers access to information they don’t need can be advantageous. 
  • Compliance management: SDP restricts access to only those employees that require it. It predetermines which devices will have access to the data and for how long. As a result, the company has more control over its data.

You can also check our SDP software list to find a suitable SDP tool for your firm.

If you need more information about SDP you can reach us:

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Access Cem's 2 decades of B2B tech experience as a tech consultant, enterprise leader, startup entrepreneur & industry analyst. Leverage insights informing top Fortune 500 every month.
Cem Dilmegani
Principal Analyst
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Cem Dilmegani
Principal Analyst

Cem has been the principal analyst at AIMultiple since 2017. AIMultiple informs hundreds of thousands of businesses (as per similarWeb) including 60% of Fortune 500 every month.

Cem's work has been cited by leading global publications including Business Insider, Forbes, Washington Post, global firms like Deloitte, HPE, NGOs like World Economic Forum and supranational organizations like European Commission. You can see more reputable companies and media that referenced AIMultiple.

Throughout his career, Cem served as a tech consultant, tech buyer and tech entrepreneur. He advised businesses on their enterprise software, automation, cloud, AI / ML and other technology related decisions at McKinsey & Company and Altman Solon for more than a decade. He also published a McKinsey report on digitalization.

He led technology strategy and procurement of a telco while reporting to the CEO. He has also led commercial growth of deep tech company Hypatos that reached a 7 digit annual recurring revenue and a 9 digit valuation from 0 within 2 years. Cem's work in Hypatos was covered by leading technology publications like TechCrunch and Business Insider.

Cem regularly speaks at international technology conferences. He graduated from Bogazici University as a computer engineer and holds an MBA from Columbia Business School.

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