The SolarWinds Breach

The SolarWinds breach reveals how companies in the global digital supply chain will continue to be targeted for compromise. This is an instance of a sophisticated attack deployed by nation state actors for the purpose of espionage and disruption. It raised the bar in terms of stealth and sophistication as it provided direct access to a multitude of organizations across the globe. This attack was especially hard to detect because the backdoor resided in software that was digitally signed and delivered to customers via a software update.


The SolarWinds breach is a wakeup call for organizations around the world. Many organizations must reevaluate their strategies and tactics for protecting critical applications and data.

VMware Insights and Recommendations

Enabling Zero Trust with an Intrinsic Security Approach


Attacks like the SolarWinds breach remind organizations to assume there is already a compromise somewhere in their environment. Organizations need to adopt a ’Zero Trust’ model that is realized by leveraging controls at four strategic points that surround critical applications and data: people, endpoints, workloads and networks. It is imperative that these control points align with each other via shared visibility and analytics leading to the ultimate goal of coordinated automation and orchestration.

The challenge with achieving Zero Trust in an efficient and effective manner stems from the constraints of a bolt-on model with many different point tools, a lack of context, and siloes between security and IT teams. An intrinsic security approach, which leverages your multi-cloud and mobile infrastructure, can improve the overall effectiveness of your security program. Advantages include:


  • Reducing complexity and cost
  • Reducing the misalignment of controls
  • Increasing coverage
  • Improving collaboration between IT and security teams
VMware Insights and Recommendation

Taking an Intrinsic Security Approach

For a more detailed perspective on VMware’s approach to Zero Trust and Intrinsic Security, click the video to the right to hear from Sanjay Poonen, COO at VMware.


VMware’s Intrinsic Security approach also leads to improved cyber hygiene at each of the above control points which should be an imperative for any security program.

Some basic principles of cyber hygiene on the journey toward Zero Trust include:

Hardening & Patching

Keep systems up to date and consistently maintained. Any critical system that is out of date is a meaningful security risk.

Multi-factor Authentication

Verify users and system components using multiple factors (not just simple passwords) and according to the risk associated with the requested access or function.

Least Privilege

Allow users only the minimum necessary access needed to perform their job and nothing more. System components should be allowed only the minimum necessary function required.


Divide the whole IT environment into smaller parts to make it more manageable to protect and contain the damage if one part gets compromised.


Encrypt all data, whether stored or transmitted. In the event of a data breach, critical files should only result in unreadable data.


Finally, it is imperative to implement behavior-based approaches for prevention, detection and response. The new breed of sophisticated attacks will not be addressed with legacy anti-malware solutions. Attacks that leverage legitimate software, like the SolarWinds breach, require behavior-based approaches for prevention, detection and response.

How We Can Help

VMware delivers a set of solutions for each of these control points that can work in accord and leverage existing infrastructure for a stronger, more intrinsic approach to Zero Trust:

Network Security
Network Security
Network Security
Network Security

User Access and Device Management

Threat Analysis Resources

We will continue to update these resources as the SolarWinds situation evolves. Check back for additional recommendations and analysis.