Flux Research Group / School of Computing

eZTrust: Network-Independent Zero-Trust Perimeterization for Microservices

Zirak Zaheer, Hyunseok Chang, Sarit Mukherjee, and Jacobus (Kobus) Van der Merwe

ACM Symposium on SDN Research (SOSR) 2019.

Networking, Security, Virtualization


Emerging microservices-based workloads introduce new security risks in today’s data centers as attacks can propagate laterally within the data center relatively easily by exploiting cross-service dependencies. As countermeasures for such attacks, traditional perimeterization approaches, such as network-endpoint-based access control, do not fare well in highly dynamic microservices environments (especially considering the management complexity, scalability and policy granularity of these earlier approaches). In this paper, we propose eZTrust, a network-independent perimeterization approach for microservices. eZTrust allows data center tenants to express access control policies based on fine-grained workload identities, and enables data center operators to enforce such policies reliably and efficiently in a purely network-independent fashion. To this end, we leverage eBPF, the extended Berkeley Packet Filter, to trace authentic workload identities and apply per-packet tagging and verification. We demonstrate the feasibility of our approach through extensive evaluation of our proof-of-concept prototype implementation. We find that, when comparable policies are enforced, eZTrust incurs 2–5 times lower packet latency and 1.5–2.5 times lower CPU overhead than tradi- tional perimeterization schemes.