Business

Micro-segmentation Guide For Businesses in 2022

Security

Organizational data is one of a business’s most valuable assets, and its protection is necessary at any cost. However, maintaining firewalls and network security policies on all the company’s data servers is time-consuming and hard to manage. Organizations can be left vulnerable to cyber attacks if these online security protocols are ineffectively managed.

In fact, recent statistics have shown that 43% of small businesses are vulnerable to cyberattacks, and among them, only 14% can defend themselves. Various practices such as regular backups, data encryption, and micro-segmentation can help organizations protect their data. It allows businesses to divide their networks into multiple segments and secure them against potential cyberattacks.

What is Micro-Segmentation?

Micro-segmentation is a security technique that eliminates the flaws of previous security methods, such as network segmentation and offers various advantages. Where traditional segmentation measures use tools such as subnets and firewalls to function, micro-segmentation uses software-defined network controllers (SDNs) to manage network access between workloads.

It works on the Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA) principle and allows businesses to closely monitor lateral movements within a network. Using this, organizational managers can limit access to users with specific privileges. In addition, micro-segmentation ensures the implementation of security protocols across east-west and north-south communications.

As a result of such an implementation, lateral cyber threats can not spread throughout data centers, and attackers’ are kept from breaching multiple parts of the environment.

Types of Micro-Segmentation

Micro-segmentation allows organizations to isolate workloads within a network without requiring any re-architecture of security protocols.

The three types of Micro-Segmentation are:

Network Micro-Segmentation

Network micro-segmentation divides the resources of a data center into Virtual Local Area Networks (VLAN) and then uses Access Control Lists (ACLs) to determine user access. It’s not one of the best cybersecurity practices and has significant security gaps caused due to misconfiguration and complex controls.

Hypervisor Micro-Segmentation

This type of segmentation uses a hypervisor in a virtual environment and relies on overlay network security architectures. This method does not require any changes to the network hardware, but it lacks support for workload containers and public cloud environments.

Host-Agent Micro-Segmentation

The host-agent micro-segmentation is built upon a Zero Trust security architecture and can be implemented across clouds, data centers, bare metals, and hybrid environments. Although this type of micro-segmentation requires installing an agent at the end of each host, it has many benefits, such as providing contextual visibility into workloads, communications, and potential vulnerabilities.

How Does Micro-Segmentation Work?

Most micro-segmentation solutions rely on SDNs to develop a virtual network or overlay to implement security policies and create segments on primary data centers. As opposed to using firewalls or subnets, micro-segmentation uses host workloads that operate within a data center or cloud and contain a native stateful firewall.

These protocols develop secure connections between the hosts and data centers and ensure that access is managed through multi-factor authentication. Such a protocol ensures that managers are notified when a security policy is breached. Using such security techniques, micro-segmentation provides organizations with complete flexibility over cyber security and eliminates the need for hardware-based firewalls.

Benefits and Challenges of Micro-Segmentation

Although micro-segmentation is a feasible option for cybersecurity, it’s not always the best for all businesses. Before implementing such security protocols, it’s important to consider their benefits and challenges.

Micro-segmentation allows organizations to contain data breaches by ensuring that managers are instantly notified when a security protocol has been breached. In addition, it reduces the size of threat surfaces by creating secure segments on primary data centers, which minimizes the chances of a successful cyber attack.

Even though micro-segmentation has been around for quite some time, organizations might still face challenges during implementation. Some of these challenges include identifying and configuring the right micro-segments and installing additional software for VMs.

How Can Businesses Implement Micro-segmentation?

Before implementing micro-segmentation, businesses must determine whether it’s the right option for their needs. Although micro-segmentation is not necessary for all types of businesses, it’s a must for organizations that deal with others’ personal medical data or credit card information. In order to develop a micro-segmentation strategy, businesses need to consider various factors, such as identifying high-priority assets, data vulnerabilities, and available segmentation options.

Identifying High-Priority Assets

When implementing micro-segmentation, the first step is to identify high-priority assets. These assets could include organizational databases, applications, or systems. Doing so will provide directional clarity for the implementation process.

Mapping Connection Structure

The next step is to map the organization’s connection structures. These maps must detail the connection structure between workloads, remote connections, applications and environments.

Assessing Vulnerabilities

Once the structural mapping is complete, organizations must identify and assess potential vulnerabilities. This will help in identifying loopholes and deploying segmentation accordingly.

Assessing Types of Segmentation

When businesses have isolated areas of high priority and vulnerability, the next step is implementing the micro-segmentation type that caters to their needs. There are various types of segmentation to choose from:

● Vulnerability-based segmentation – this type of segmentation provides significance to assessing and managing vulnerabilities in real-time.

● User-based segmentation – ensures security by segmenting users about particular workloads and access.

● Application-based segmentation – aligns individual applications with individual security segments based on high-security prioritization.

● Location-based segmentation – create segmentation with regard to the location of data centers or cloud databases.

Implementing Segmentation

When a segmentation approach has been finalized, businesses need to decide on a set of software-based security tools such as SDN controllers, hybrid softwares, or hypervisors to implement the micro-segmentation.

In addition to choosing the right security tools, developing security protocols is essential. Doing so will help businesses monitor security performance, control network traffic, and ensure that threat reporting and containment processes are comprehensively effective.

Conclusion

Microsegmentation works based on Zero Trust principles and ensures that organizations can monitor all lateral movements within a network. This results in the containment of lateral cyber threats and keeps attackers from spreading to multiple parts of an environment.

When implementing micro-segmentation, businesses must consider various factors, such as areas of vulnerability and the type of segmentation required. When implemented, these protocols allow managers to receive instant alerts about any breaches in security policies and help ensure that multiple vulnerabilities are not exploited.