Microsegmentation is a network security architecture that divides data centres into different segments. The sub-networks or zones can reach up to individual workloads that help organisations limit user access.
The technique allows the creation of boundaries between a network. The traffic moving between these boundaries has to pass security controls at specific points. Hence, microsegmentation works on the principle of “Zero Trust” and “least privilege”, aiding organisations to eliminate the element of trust from the entire system.
With microsegmentation, security teams can deploy flexible policies in their cloud systems and data centres without installing multiple firewalls.
Now that you know what microsegmentation is let’s discuss more about this unique security architecture and its types.
Types of Microsegmentation
You can implement microsegmentation in several ways depending on the security needs of the assets you want to protect. Here are the types of microsegmentation:
- Application Segmentation
Application segmentation aims to protect high-value applications that perform critical functions, contain sensitive data or need regulation like PCI DSS, SOX and HISAA.
This microsegmentation type helps establish a security perimeter around the application and control user access. It controls East-West sensitive communications taking place between applications.
Application segmentation also helps meet compliance mandates without the need to re-design your network. To implement application segmentation, you can leverage host-based enforcement points that already exist in the applications.
This segmentation approach allows responding to application changes like software updates or scaling events and acts as a base for the Zero Trust model by verifying all users.
- User Segmentation
Another microsegmentation type is user segmentation. This approach believes in granting limited access to the users. It means that individual users can only access a small part of the larger network and nothing more.
User microsegmentation works on the “never trust, always verify” approach and provides limited application visibility to users of specific groups. This is achieved by using identity services such as Microsoft Active Directory.
In user segmentation, every user in the Virtual Local Area Network (VLAN) might need different access permissions under different policies.
The foundation of this approach is user identity and group membership. Hence, it does not require making changes to the infrastructure.
- Process-Based Segmentation
Process-based segmentation allows you to achieve a higher granularity level and reduce the attack surface into much smaller zones.
The technique helps build a perimeter around each process or service level creating a single segment. Treating each bare metal server or Virtual Machine (VM) as a single unit, this microsegmentation approach requires precise security rules for every workload.
Process-based segmentation is suitable for cloud environments and on-premise data centres. It allows you to separate a specific software and permit communication on allowed network paths.
- Tier-Level Segmentation
Tier-level segmentation is a method to segment an application that has several tiers like application server, web server or database. This segmentation approach helps isolate each application tier from one another to prevent unauthorised movement between the tiers.
For example, a tier-level segmentation policy may permit communication between the processing tier and the data tier but not with the web server.
- Environmental Segmentation
A traditional network has different environments that include development, testing, production, and staging, where assets are spread over public or hybrid clouds. This makes it difficult to protect and control assets.
Environmental segmentation thus allows you to isolate different environments and restrict their communication preventing attackers from exploiting the loopholes.
The Way to Go- Microsegmentation Best Practices
You can successfully implement microsegmentation in your organisation by using the following best practices:
- Define Effective Boundaries
Microsegmentation is effective when it is founded on well-defined boundaries. You can define the objectives of different IT resources and applications according to the organisation’s needs and divide the end users. This helps you define suitable boundaries around segments with limited exchange of information.
- Begin with the Application-Centric Approach
Once you identify the desired boundaries, you can create different segments for each application. Now you can identify the users that require access to the application and the data they need to share.
- Define Levels of Access
Applications often include tiers for services that are meant for a specific group of users. For a successful microsegmentation strategy, you must use the “least privilege” approach, offering limited access to users to perform their functions. You can break down the application into its tiers and services and define which users will have access to what resources.
- Implement the Architecture Gradually
Once you identify critical assets and define boundaries and access levels, you can now group the end users, servers, applications and datasets. Check the effectiveness of the process in one group and gradually extend microsegmentation to other groups.
With organisations using more complex networks, the cyber threat landscape is also evolving. Therefore, implementing Zero Trust Microsegmentation is crucial. Microsegmentation is an efficient tool to reduce cyber threats that endanger your organisation’s critical assets. The architecture offers benefits like reduced surface attack, improved containment of security breaches and strong regularity compliance.
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