Microsegmentation for Network Security: Everything You Need to Know

Looking to secure your data across the environment and better traffic security? Here is how you can use microsegmentation for network security.

Segmenting traffic, analyzing, and filtration for better security is not new. For example, organizations have used perimeter firewalls with VLANs to segment IT infrastructure for secure operations. However, cloud adoption and increased use of hybrid approaches have been causing a new security threat.

Microsegmentation is a method of segmenting the traffic that helps organizations secure sensitive information. It creates secure zones inside a network where you can isolate workloads from one another. In other words, organizations have granular control over the traffic that enters and leaves the network.

Having granular control is crucial for organizations that face an average cost of $4 million for a data breach, according to experts at Cloudlytics. So, let’s discuss how to use microsegmentation for network security and understand its benefits for enhanced network security.

What is Microsegmentation?

Microsegmentation in networking is often called an “upgrade” of popular network segmentation. You can use the microsegmentation approach to identify corrupted traffic, isolate workloads and enforce specific data access policies.

Take an example of an intruder into your network who enters through a gated community and gets free reign. Microsegmentation creates locked houses inside your gated community to prevent unauthorized access to sensitive information.

What microsegmentation offers is more than just isolated and gated workloads. Even if an intruder enters the gated and remote zones for data access, microsegmentation ensures no information leakage.

How Microsegmentation Works

Microsegmentation in networking works on the technique of controlling traffic through inter-group policies. It helps implement fine-grained isolation between data groups based on

  • An Endpoint group (EPG) is a group of entities that carries servers and VMs.
  • Group-based policy (GBP) is a security policy for network traffic control within EPGs.

Why Do Organizations Need Microsegmentation?

The conventional approach to segmentation was to treat any external traffic as insecure and internal data flows as secure. So, to secure external traffic, companies used firewalls deployed. Security analysis technologies used on the external parameters to segment malicious incoming traffic were termed border security technology.

However, during data scaling, organizations need to segment external and internal traffic. Especially when attacks cross the initial perimeter, the data center network is under threat. So, when companies started moving to cloud-based databases, it was essential to have security analysis systems that could secure internal and external traffic.

This is where microsegmentation helped businesses improve security dynamically for internal and external traffic.  One of the key benefits of using a microsegmentation firewall is enhanced security policy control. However, it goes beyond policy enforcement, and there are many other benefits of using microsegmentation in networking.

Benefits of Microsegmentation for Network Security

Some of the top benefits of microsegmentation solutions are the following:

  • It helps define traffic groups based on specific IP addresses, MAC addresses, and names of Virtual Machines.
  • Microsegmentation firewalls enhance data access control and help implement a zero-trust security system.
  • It enables organizations to minimize the attack surface and prevent cyber attackers from accessing sensitive information.
  • The microsegmentation solution helps isolate the workload and reduce network bandwidth consumption.
  • It also helps prevent centralized control points from being a blocker for data flow.

There is no denying that choosing microsegmentation for network security makes sense with its several benefits, but implementing it has many challenges.

Challenges with Implementing Microsegmentation

Implementing microsegmentation has its challenges due to mixed data traffic, multiple tiers of environment, and system dependencies.

Compliance with Regulations

Many countries have stringent privacy laws that may preclude the implementation of microsegmentation. For example, if you are a business operating in Europe, GDPR compliance becomes key to your operations. At the same time, data regulations at another location can be different from GDPR, making it challenging to implement microsegmentation across regions.

Business Perspectives

Microsegmentation can be difficult to justify and manage from a business perspective. You have to invest in microsegmentation implementation on resources, tools, staffing, and more. So, if the cost does not justify the end goal, it is hard for top-level executives to take a call on using the microsegmentation approach.

Risk Assessment Difficulties

It can be hard to determine which traffic is most sensitive or whether any given segment should receive special treatment. Especially if your data is unstructured, microsegmentation becomes complex and requires more effort.

Microsegmentation Use Cases

There are various use cases for microsegmentation in network security, including targeted attacks on individual users, data leakage prevention, and traffic management.

Prevent Targeted Attacks

Targeted attacks on individual users or particular applications can be prevented by configuring your network security infrastructure. Using microsegmentation for network security, you can isolate certain network parts from each other. Further, you can allow authorized traffic to pass freely between them while blocking access to suspicious or unauthorized content and devices.

Avoid Data Leakages

Data leakage prevention can be achieved by segmenting sensitive data sources into different microsegments and monitoring each for signs of violations. If an incident is detected, you can take appropriate action based on the type of information involved.

Manage Data Traffic

Traffic management might be necessary when dealing with high-volume or time-sensitive traffic.  For example, you might use microsegmentation to divide your network into different queues based on the type of traffic and then prioritize each cue according to its importance.

This way, you can ensure that important transactions are completed within the prescribed timeframe while allowing other types of traffic to flow more freely.

Other use cases for microsegmentation in network security include:

  • Segregation of user traffic to improve overall performance and protect confidential information
  • Segregating infected machines from healthy ones to stop the spread of infection or malware
  • Segregating active malicious users from normal users to better monitor their activity
  • Segregating customer traffic to improve customer experience and reduce spam
  • Segregating traffic for different applications (such as office productivity software, streaming video, and online gaming) to improve QoS
  • Segregating traffic from different parts of the world to reduce potential attacks from cross-border threats

Conclusion

As the business scale and data grow, you need more than just segmentation at an external parameter. With data flowing through multiple tiers of environments, a microsegmentation solution is the best way to ensure better security. However, implementing microsegmentation has challenges, which is where security analytics from Cloudlytics can help. So, contact us for comprehensive security intelligence to improve data protection.

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