In December 2009, Google was the target of a series of highly coordinated, sophisticated advanced persistent threat (APT) attacks in which state-sponsored hackers from China stole intellectual property and sought to access and potentially modify Google source code the companys crown jewels. Dubbed Operation Aurora, the attack proved to be a referendum at Google on the layered, perimeter-based security model.
Five years later, in 2014, Google published a paper titled “BeyondCorp: A New Approach to Enterprise Security,” which detailed the companys radical security overhaul, transitioning to a trustless model where all applications live on the public Internet. Google wrote:
Virtually every company today uses firewalls to enforce perimeter security. However, this security model is problematic because, when that perimeter is breached, an attacker has relatively easy access to a companys privileged intranet. As companies adopt mobile and cloud technologies, the perimeter is becoming increasingly difficult to enforce. Google is taking a different approach…We are removing the requirement for a privileged intranet and moving our corporate applications to the Internet.
Yet while much of the world is in the throes of adopting the open, on-demand IT paradigm characterized by agility and elasticity that Google helped define, security has yet to be reimagined in the image of cloud and DevOps, much less Google.
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