Network segmentation (or microsegmentation) is a means of reducing the impact of an attack by logically splitting your network into multiple areas. These solutions essentially place firewalls within your network, requiring users to be validated before being granted access to another area. This means that if an attacker breaches one area of your network, there are barriers in place to prevent them from expanding the attack laterally and breaching more of your network.
Microsegmentation solutions are often part of a wider access management or network security solution. These tools continuously verify traffic based on user behavior and tags to ensure that your networks are not accessed by improper users. If a user is displaying abnormal behavior, the platform prevents them from accessing further areas of the network and notifies an admin so they can investigate the activity. This filtration can happen at a granular level – traffic flow can be monitored between applications, thereby allowing you to create micro-policies and security automations to reduce attack surface and contain network breaches.
In this article we’ll explore the top 11 network segmentation solutions that help reduce your attack surface and improve your security posture. We’ll give a brief overview of each product and its key specifications, before providing our expert opinion on the solution and suggesting who it would benefit most.
How Does Microsegmentation Work?
There are two stages in the microsegmentation process. First, your network areas are divided up into segments, with firewalls preventing free access across segments. This can be carried out at any scale, right down to individual workloads. When a user attempts to access one of these areas, their identity is verified. Microsegmentation enforces more frequent checks, ensuring users are only accessing areas that they are permitted to, as opposed to only verifying their identity once and granting access to the entire network.
If an attacker was able to gain access to one of the network areas, they would not be able to extend the attack laterally, into other segments. Instead, they would be restricted to a single segment before remediation efforts could take place. This reduces the potential blast radius of an attack, thereby limiting the potential damage.
With microsegmentation, you can spread a single customer’s information across segments. This increases security by preventing any user from having access to all the information regarding a specific customer. In a medical setting, for instance, you may store a customer’s financial and banking details within a segment that can be accessed by the accounts department but store their medical details in a different segment. This means that medical professionals can’t access their clients’ banking details, and the accounts department can’t access their medical details.
Who Should Have A Microsegmentation Security Solution?
Microsegmentation is an important part of an enterprise’s security infrastructure. Enterprises often have large network environments that can be difficult to manage and monitor. You want to ensure that only valid users are accessing your data and accounts. With microsegmentation, you can automate this verification process and ensure that sensitive areas aren’t breached.
Any organization could be adversely impacted if an attacker were to gain access to their network. However, some sectors that handle particularly sensitive data, such as PII or PHI, are required to implement more strict data protection processes. For these sectors – including government, financial, healthcare, retail, and aviation = micro-segmentation is particularly useful.
Alternatively, if you are operating technology that does not have sufficient patches, microsegmentation can add that critical security layer to protect your network.
What Are The Benefits Of Network Segmentation?
Within the umbrella benefit of “improving your cyber security”, there are two specific ways that network segmentation improves your posture: they reduce your attack surface area and help prove regulatory compliance.
Reduce attack surface area – Segmenting your network reduces the surface area that is open to being attacked. You can successfully limit the scope of any attack by requiring verification on each occasion that a user crosses a segmentation boundary. This increases the frequency of verification, ensuring that only users who should have access do have access. So, if an attacker successfully breaches one of your network areas, they will be unable to connect with adjacent areas and spread the attack.
Prove regulatory compliance – Due to the effectiveness of network segmentation, many regulatory frameworks will expect your organization to implement it as a security strategy. By doing so, you can ensure that you do not fall foul of these regulations.
PCI DSS, for example, requires that cardholder data is isolated from other systems – this ensures that it if the network is compromised, financial details are secure. Regulatory bodies do not always specify microsegmentation by name but implementing it can be an effective way to prove that you’re taking proactive steps to protect your business and customer data.