Learning Center - What is the castle-and-moat network security model?

‘Castle-and-moat’ refers to a network security model in which everyone inside the network is trusted by default. “Castle-and-moat” is a network security model in which no one outside the network is able to access data on the inside, but everyone inside the network can. Imagine an organization’s network as a castle and the network perimeter as a moat. Once the drawbridge is lowered and someone crosses it, they have free rein inside the castle grounds. Similarly, once a user connects to a network in this model, they are able to access all the applications and data within that network.

Organizations that use this model dedicate a lot of resources to defending their network perimeter, just as a castle might place the most guards near the drawbridge. They deploy firewalls, intrusion detection systems (IDS), intrusion prevention systems (IPS), and other security products that block most external attacks — but are not as effective at stopping internal attacks, insider threats, and data breaches.

“Castle-and-moat” is not necessarily a deliberately chosen strategy. The term came into use to contrast traditional network architecture with zero trust architecture. Learn more in the Cloudflare Learning Center.

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