Thanks to a network security technique called micro-segmentation, data centers can be logically divided into several security segments based on various workloads. These distinct, divided parts are observed and governed separately to guarantee that each area receives the maximum attention.
Network virtualization technologies allow IT departments to implement flexible security policies in data centers and cloud platforms without building numerous firewalls. Security managers and engineers can separate the environment, applications, and hybrid networks by implementing distinct safe zones.
“Microsegmentation plays a crucial role in addressing regulatory requirements within organizations. Regulatory compliance often demands strict control over data access, protection, and privacy. Micro segmentation provides a powerful solution by dividing the network into isolated segments or zones, where each segment has its own set of security policies and controls. This approach ensures that sensitive data, such as personally identifiable information (PII) or financial records, remains segregated and only accessible to authorized personnel. By enforcing granular access controls and isolating different regulatory environments, microsegmentation helps organizations achieve compliance with industry-specific regulations like GDPR, HIPAA, or PCI-DSS. It minimizes the risk of unauthorized access, data breaches, and lateral movement within the network. Furthermore, microsegmentation enables detailed monitoring and auditing capabilities, facilitating compliance reporting, and demonstrating adherence to regulatory standards. Ultimately, microsegmentation helps organizations maintain a secure and compliant environment, protecting sensitive data and mitigating regulatory risks.” – Ken Fee, CEO at Business Technology Architects
Types of Micro-Segmentation
The most common approaches to micro-segmentation are:
East-west connectivity is restricted to protect special programs on bare metal servers, virtual machines, or containers. This approach can satisfy the requirements of the PCI, SOX, and HIPAA information security standards.
When an application has multiple tiers—for example, a web server, an application server, and a database—it is advantageous to separate each tier and keep it separate from the others. By doing so, hackers are prevented from switching between front-end and back-end systems.
The testing, development, and production environments are distinct from one another. The dispersed nature of environments across multiple data centers, on-premises, and in the cloud prevents conventional methodologies from offering this level of segmentation.
This segmentation operates at the process or service level using a fine-grained approach. For example, a particular software service might be isolated and restricted to communicating only through network paths, protocols, and ports that have been explicitly approved.
Steps to Create Micro-Segmentation Strategy
Creating a successful segmentation strategy requires the five steps listed below.
- Choose the items that need the most security in the first place. These might include crucial systems, databases, or applications. Determine which assets require the highest level of protection to focus your security efforts. To protect high-priority holdings of this nature, fine-grained market segmentation is needed.
- This stage calls for mapping all connections, including remote connections, environments, workloads, and applications. It can help you locate any mistakes and pinpoint the parts of your connections most vulnerable to data breaches.
- Different segmentation systems may exist depending on your security needs. After determining their needs, choose the security segmentation option that seems most likely. There are numerous segmentation methods available, such as user-based, location-based, and application-based segmentation.
- It is essential to consider whether areas require high-security calls for fine-grained segmentation while areas require low-security calls for coarse-grained segmentation. It can assist you in determining which areas of your operating environment are vulnerable and which call for extra caution.
- Once you've chosen your segmentation method, test it to ensure everything is perfectly aligned. Segmentation can significantly impact how regions function, so aligning it with the functions must be carefully considered. It keeps your segmented security at its highest level without affecting your operations.
Reasons for Using Micro-Segmentation
Many businesses have adopted micro-segmentation to protect their data better. The reasons for this are:
Security for Cloud Workload
Micro-segmentation is also simple to use with multi-vendor cloud infrastructure deployment and has automatic security policies that follow resources between clouds without increasing operational complexity. Additionally, it safeguards workloads and programs spread across numerous cloud data centers.
Micro-segmentation decreases the attack surface while providing much-needed fine-grained visibility into workload connections. Additionally, the solution offers real-time visibility into any suspicious behavior, ensuring that security professionals can recognize and react to suspicious behavior immediately.
Defense against APTs
Threats can appear in many forms, which are challenging to identify. Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs) are well-planned attacks orchestrated by a person or piece of software moving laterally through the network. Micro-segmentation goes much further than this by enhancing security and denying the threat access to resources. Data exfiltration ends when all CNC communication is stopped, enabling rapid containment and efficient cleanup.
The Ease of Compliance
Compliance may be hard to uphold, even with suitable systems and security precautions. Micro-segmentation makes it simpler to comprehend mandatory compliance regulations like PCI-DSS and region-specific standards like GDPR. It offers PCI-DSS policies that are automatically applied, reviewed, and improved across all locations and platforms.
It also allows for the protection of ePHI data, risk analysis and management, and the ability to limit the scope of an audit to comply with HIPAA.
Plain Environment Separation
Production data flow into an unauthorized or uncontrolled development environment may result in data breaches. However, separating environments to limit access to sensitive data has historically proven time-consuming and difficult. But modern data centers can easily separate different environments thanks to micro-segmentation.
Environment separation now offers the highest operational security and simplicity levels due to its flexibility in adapting to changing application settings. It uses labels to distinguish the resources hosting workloads or applications rather than IP addresses and VLAN to segment the network.
A high-quality micro-segmentation solution allows for reusable security policy templates that regulate user access to applications and databases and communication between workloads in various contexts. Businesses can use templates for uniform security and compliance in every environment developed or changed instead of spending hours on tiresome manual setup work.
Transparency in Hybrid Environments
The only way to deal with bare metal servers and hybrid cloud infrastructures' ongoing inspection, which occasionally calls for time-consuming repairs, is through micro-segmentation. Using the appropriate micro-segmentation solutions eliminates the requirement for multiple visualizations and monitoring tools by providing comprehensive insights into each resource and cross-segment traffic in data centers.
Access Control Security for Applications:
The switch to digital technology has brought about a lot of change and new challenges for security experts. Micro-segmentation is a technique for securing program access and streamlining the process of relevant access to relevant functions or resources. It is especially true for the visibility of remote network and application access.
With a level two micro-segmentation technique, security teams can develop flexible policy limits that respond to the users' location, identity, and role. As a result, organizations may shield users who want to access micro-segmented applications on campuses and in other locations.
Despite the difficulties in implementation that micro-segmentation always brings, it is a feasible and scalable method for tightening network security measures. An organization can quickly strengthen the network's defenses against hackers and data breaches by implementing micro-segmentation as part of its network security strategy. Even though managing this new type of protection may be challenging for many businesses, it is still worthwhile.