In today’s world, businesses’ scope is no longer measured by a perimeter, and every day more businesses become more dependent on cloud services to host applications or store data. Additionally, the global pandemic permanently brought remote work models to our lives, that’s why businesses have to implement modern security solutions to protect end-points in their networks. In these decentralized working environments, traditional perimeter-based security approaches aren’t effective anymore.
As of 2022, businesses should adopt modern security solutions to secure endpoints and corporate networks against all kinds of malicious intrusions. In this regard, implementing network segmentation and micro-segmentation solutions are critical for maintaining network security. Additionally, micro-segmentation reduces surface areas of potential attacks, prohibits lateral movement, and allows wider visibility and control over the complete network. Let’s explain what is Micro-Segmentation further.
What Is Micro-Segmentation?
Micro-segmentation is an improvement of conventional network segmentation that reduces the flaws related to traditional methods. Traditional network segmentation solutions separate networks into VLANs and subnets, with these smaller network sections, IT admins can monitor the information flows, and user behaviors, and mitigate the risks of unauthorized access to resources.
Additionally, traditional network segmentation strategies are dependent on perimeter-based security solutions such as subnets and firewalls to build barriers between resources. On the other hand, Micro-segmentation uses Software Defined Network controllers (SDNs) which diminishes the need for perimeter-based security solutions to construct barriers.
With micro-segmentation, IT admins have wider visibility and greater control over corporate networks, and it allows managers to control east-west network traffic better. In micro-segmented networks, managers can assign access privileges to each user or group so that they can only reach necessary resources in accordance with their job roles, and daily tasks.
Additionally, by implementing micro-segmentation, managers can put lateral movement policies in place and prohibit lateral movement within the corporate networks. In this regard, micro-segmentation reduces the surface areas of potential attacks and allows IT admins to isolate and contain breaches immediately. So, even if a cyber attack occurs, malicious actors won’t be able to roam or laterally move within the network, and this breach will be contained instantly. Lastly, these features make micro-segmentation an essential component of Zero Trust Access (ZTNA) systems.
What Are the Main Types Of Micro-Segmentation?
1- Network Micro-Segmentation
Network micro-segmentation is very similar to older versions of network segmentation. It divides resources of the data center into smaller sections “Virtual Local Area Networks (VLANs)”, and employs Access Control Lists (ACLs) and IP construct to establish user access. Since micro-segmentation is implemented at the VLAN level, it might not be the best micro-segmentation solution. Additionally, it can create major security gaps in corporate networks and it is inefficient to control east-west network traffic. To gain wider visibility and control over the networks, Access Control Lists (ACLs) and IP construct tools are needed and these can be very expensive and unsustainable.
2- Hypervisor Micro-Segmentation
Hypervisor micro-segmentation virtualizes the security environment and all data flows over the hypervisor. Virtual security machines function the same as Software Defined Networks, and this makes hypervisor micro-segmentation an excellent choice for networks that are dependent on VMware infrastructures. Additionally, this approach might not be the best fit for companies that rely on cloud services and hardware-based infrastructures.
3- Host Agent Micro-Segmentation
In the Host Agent Micro-Segmentation setup, managers install agents to work stations, and data flows through agents. This setup finds agents of Software Defined Networking in the network endpoints and hosts. These agents constantly report to central management tools and allow IT, admins, to monitor data flows in the network. Additionally, host agent micro-segmentation is compatible with cloud, hardware-based, or hybrid settings, but each host needs an agent to maintain overall security.
Host agent micro-segmentation allows managers to segment the networks whatever they want, and they can control access privileges for different roles when there is an agent in place. Lastly, this setup requires constant updates as the systems evolve and the number of devices increases.
As of 2022, employees still work remotely, and businesses are more dependent on cloud services. In these settings, traditional perimeter-based security solutions can’t maintain overall security. To secure endpoints and cloud resources, micro-segmentation is needed as it reduces surface areas of potential attacks, prohibits lateral movement, and enables wider visibility and control.