Navigating Security Zones in Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI)

Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI) is a cloud service that helps you create and execute several applications and services in a hosted environment.

Oracle Corporation provides the platform. It allows developers and businesses to deploy, build, and manage applications in the cloud. 

The OCI is designed to provide scalable, high-performance, and security for different workloads. The platform also offers robust security zones and prioritizes security features such as identity and access management (IAM) and monitoring. 

Understanding Security Zones

A. Definition and Scope

Security Zones ensure that your resources in the OCI, such as object storage, computation, networking, and database resources, comply with security policies. 

A security zone is associated with one or more compartments and a security zone recipe. The OCI validates these operations against the security policies when you create and update resources in a security zone. The security zone recipe defines the policies. 

B. Benefits of Using Security Zones

Security zones have policies in place to maintain the best security practices: 

  • Resource Isolation 

    Security zones help to group and isolate resources within the OCI. The segmentation helps to deploy your data assets an application in an environment fully detached from other tenants and from the Oracle staff. 

  • Improved Compliance 

    Security zones promote regulatory compliance by approaching resources with a structure and managing them effectively. 

  • Visibility 

    Provides comprehensive security analytics and log data to monitor and audit actions on your resources. The visibility helps to meet your audit requirements and reduce operational risks. 

  • Data encryption 

    Protects you in transit and at rest to help meet all security and compliance requirements for key management and cryptographic algorithms. 

  • Secure hybrid cloud 

    The platform lets you use existing security assets, like policies and user accounts. It also allows third-party solutions when accessing cloud resources and securing your application and data assets in the cloud. 

C. Security Zone Components

A security zone is an association between a compartment and a security zone recipe. The resource operations in a security zone are authenticated against all policies in the recipe.  The components include: 

  • Security Zone Boundaries

    Security Zone Boundaries define the logical borders within OCI, segregating resources and controlling communication, enhancing isolation and reducing the attack surface for a more secure infrastructure.

  • Security Zone Resources

    Security Zone Resources encompass the assets within defined boundaries, facilitating resource organization. This component ensures controlled access and efficient management of resources within distinct security zones.

  • Security Zone Policies

    Security Zone Policies establish fine-grained controls over network traffic within a security zone. These policies enforce least privilege principles, contributing to a robust defense-in-depth strategy for heightened cloud security.

Creating and Managing Security Zones

After you have created IAM policies and enabled Cloud Guard, you’ll have to create a security zone for a compartment and check for security zone policy violations. 

A. Setting Up a New Security Zone

Creating a new security zone helps to ensure the resources in a compartment adhere to security policies. Before creating a security zone, you must enable Cloud Guard in the tenancy. 

  1. 1

    Security Zone Naming

    Establish clear and organized Security Zone Naming conventions for easy resource identification and streamlining management within your OCI infrastructure for enhanced operational efficiency.

  2. 2

    Defining Security Zone Boundaries

    Delineate Security Zone Boundaries to logically segregate resources, ensuring controlled access and fortified security measures, optimizing your Oracle Cloud Infrastructure for a resilient environment.

B. Managing Resources in Security Zones

Streamline resource management within Security Zones to optimize organization and secure access. This process ensures a well-structured and protected environment in your Oracle Cloud Infrastructure deployment.

C. Implementing Security Zone Policies

Enforce security with precision using Role-Based Access Control, tailoring user permissions, and defining robust Policies for Network Security within Security Zones. The policies promote a resilient and secure cloud infrastructure.

  1. 1

    Role-Based Access Control

    Tailor user access with precision through Role-Based Access Control within Security Zones. This promotes a secure environment by restricting permissions based on specific roles for enhanced data protection.

  2. 2

    Policies for Network Security

    Secure your OCI with defined Policies for Network Security within Security Zones. These policies regulate network traffic. The policies ensure a secure foundation for your cloud environment.

Integrating Security Zones with OCI Services

OCI Security Zones are integrated with other OCI services, like IAM, to promote a unified security approach across the cloud infrastructure. 

A. Security Zones and Virtual Cloud Networks

The OCI Virtual Cloud Networks (VCNs) have customizable and private cloud networks in Oracle Cloud Infrastructure. The VCN provides users complete control over their cloud networking, which means added security. This includes creating subnets, configuring stateful firewalls, etc. 

B. Security Zones and Identity and Access Management (IAM)

Manage user access for OCI across several cloud and on-premises applications using a cloud-native platform. Oracle offers a cloud identity solution that centrers user identity as the security perimeter and promotes a zero-trust analogy. 

C. Security Zones and Data Encryption

Security zone resources must be encrypted using customer-managed keys. The data encryption must be completed when at rest or in transit. The OCI Vault lets you manage master encryption keys that protect the data you use to access resources securely. 

Security Zone Use Cases

Use Case 1: Securing Sensitive Data

For securing sensitive data, your role involves the secure setup of virtual networking, load balancing, DNS, and gateways, ensuring accurate communication among hosts and proper attachment of devices to storage. 

Oracle guarantees a secure network infrastructure, including L3/4 DDoS protection for all OCI accounts without additional configuration or monitoring.

Use Case 2: Protecting Multi-Tier Applications

Oracle Cloud Infrastructure emphasizes security through Network Security Groups (NSGs). This promotes simplified configurations and granular IAM policies. NSGs enhance security lists. 

These allow application-level control for compute instances and ensure tailored security measures for resources within a subnet, especially in multi-tier applications. Configuration involves creating NSGs, defining rules, and associating them with instance VNICs to promote security on the platform. 

Use Case 3: Isolation for Compliance

Users can use compartments and tags to organize isolating resources for access control. You can create and designate compartments for specific categories of resources and write IAM policies to allow access to only users who need them. 

Also, you can restrict access by assigning privileges by role and defining Maximum Security Zones to enforce security policies for compartments in OCI. 

Security Zone Limitations and Challenges

A. Scalability Issues

Upscaling and downscaling require manual adjustments subject to varied calculations for the required amount of change in capacity. This also includes the maintenance duration required, which makes it challenging to manage the requirements of scalability. 

B. Complex Configurations

Security Zones have complete configurations. The number of security zones that can be created can be multiple, but managing all these security zones involves manual tweaks that are complex to handle. 

C. Cost Considerations

Security Zones are free to use in general. However, the resources within a security zone have different charges, and the cost depends on the usage of these resources. 

Implementing Security Zone Best Practices

1. Steps to Optimal Security Zone Implementation

  • Define clear boundaries for each Security Zone.

  • Enforce co-location of all required resource components within the same Security Zone.

  • Restrict public internet access to resources within Security Zones.

  • Mandate encryption with customer-managed keys for Security Zone resources.

  • Implement automated and regular backups for resources within Security Zones.

  • Restrict copying of privileged data outside the Security Zone.

  • Adhere to Oracle-approved configurations and templates for resources within Security Zones.

B. Automating Security Zone Management

You can automate processes in Security Zones for managing resources. After you create a security zone for a compartment, it will automatically prevent operations, such as modifying or creating resources that violate security policies.  

C. Regular Security Zone Audits

Routinely monitoring your security zone helps identify security loopholes. Some routine security tasks include performing a security audit and evaluating and enabling new security zone policies. 

Security Zones and Disaster Recovery

A. Ensuring Business Continuity

Establish continuity plans within Security Zones to mitigate the impact of disasters. Ensure resource availability and functionality to maintain critical business operations.

B. Security Zone Backup and Recovery Strategies

Users can automate backups for resources. The OCI Console-managed automatic backups is the preferred method for backing up Oracle Cloud databases, as they can be easily configured using the console. 

Regulatory Compliance and Security Zones

A. Meeting Regulatory Requirements

Security Zones categorize policies by security principle, such as the Restric Resource Movement. Each policy affects different cloud resources, such as Compute or Networking, making it important to meet all the regulatory requirements. 

B. Compliance Audits and Reporting

For Security Zones, certain types of compliance documents are required. These include a general suit report, attestation, a Service Organization Controls 3 audit report that provides information related to a service organization’s internal controls for security, etc. 

Security Zones and Industry Trends

A. Evolving Security Threat

Adapt Security Zone configurations to address emerging challenges and vulnerabilities. Scale security resources as required to adapt to security threats. 

B. Future of Security Zones in OCI

Anticipate and align Security Zones with future advancements in cloud security. Understand different technologies to enhance the use of Security Zones in Oracle Cloud Infrastructure.


Security Zones let you be confident that your resources in the OCI, such as Block Volume and Networking, all adhere to security policies.

Thus, implementing security zone policies not only promotes compliance but also validates operations against a list of defined policies in the security zone recipe. 


Which feature is not provided by OCI Security Zones Oracle?

OCI Security Zones do not allow customers to create their policies; access to Oracle-provided policies is available.

What is a Security Zone?

A Security Zone in OCI actively enforces compartment security that prevents actions that could weaken a customer's security posture.

In which two ways can Oracle Security Zones assist?

Oracle Security Zones enforce resource-based security policies and enable users to define custom security sets tailored to their needs.

What is a Security List in OCI?

A Security List in OCI defines security rules for all VNICs in a subnet, which ensures comprehensive subnet-level security.

Difference between a Security List and a Security Group in OCI?

A Security List applies to all VNICs in a subnet. In contrast, a Security Group (NSG) applies rules to a group of VNICs associated with a compute instance, load balancer, or DB system.

What is the Security List and NSG in OCI?

A Security List applies to all VNICs in a subnet, and an NSG applies rules to a group of VNICs associated with compute instances, load balancers, or DB systems.

How many Oracle OCI regions are there?

Oracle OCI is available in all commercial regions, offering global coverage.


To initiate the journey toward bolstering security with OCI, start by creating a security zone for an existing compartment.

This can be achieved through the implementation of either a custom recipe or by utilizing one managed by Oracle.

It is imperative to meticulously adhere to and ensure compliance with all established security policies for optimal effectiveness.

About the author


Youssef is a Senior Cloud Consultant & Founder of

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