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What is Microsegmentation?

What is Microsegmentation?

Blog Article Published: 03/27/2023

Originally published by TrueFort.

Written by Nik Hewitt.

Microsegmentation: The Zero Trust “best practice” becoming “standard practice.”

Often described by the broader term ‘Zero Trust,’ which is the name given to the overall security model, microsegmentation is the industry-recognized best practice under which security architects divide their data center into individual segments and apply uniquely defined security controls to those segments, even as deeply as the individual workload level. Only those who need permission to access specific parts of the data center (as part of their common duties) get that permission. Microsegmentation limits the lateral spread of any breach, letting security teams analyze any activity against a benchmark of normal data and application access conditions.

Microsegmentation provides protection, flexibility, and visibility anywhere – in local databases or the cloud. With 36% of organizations using it already and 91% planning to adopt microsegmentation within 12-24 months, what is “best practice” now will become “standard practice” by 2025.

We have been warned

As we enter 2023, the geopolitical climate means that the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) is actively warning businesses to prepare for attacks from the likes of nation-state bad actors. With tighter budgets, industry staffing and skills shortages, a surge in remote working, the move to the cloud, and devices outside of the traditional office network, best practices are now essential.

By applying tailored security policies to individual application workloads, microsegmentation prevents attackers from moving around (laterally) inside a network if the perimeter has been compromised. Microsegmentation protects any communication within a data center or between different data centers (east-west traffic) and communication with other systems outside of the data center, including the cloud (north-south traffic).

Best practices mean a safe environment

If we think of our data as a space station with individual sections and modules conducting the day-to-day station operations: science and engineering, habitation, storage, connection nodes, the command center, whatever. Using microsegmentation means that one section can be breached but the others will remain sealed and secure. As soon as the pressure drops from normal in one compartment, airlocks are sealed, lights flash/claxons sound, and station crew are instantly made aware – allowing the station to continue with its mission as localized repairs are undertaken.

Advantages of microsegmentation

One size, or security rule, does not fit all. Microsegmentation offers distinct advantages over an outdated ‘flat network’ approach or traditional, less granular network segmentation.

  • Rapid and siloed containment – By setting a benchmark for normal behavior and monitoring against that benchmark, security teams have better insight into their live data center environment and can quickly respond to any attack in real-time. With clear and actionable alerts, they can react swiftly – safely knowing that any compromise can’t spread any further.
  • Ongoing protection – Microsegmentation reduces an organization’s vulnerability profile, protecting against attacks targeting misconfigurations, zero-day vulnerabilities, out-of-date or missing patches, unsecured APIs, unauthorized access, and even insider threats – malicious or accidental.
  • Greater visibility – By the process of discovery and classification, microsegmentation tools provide a detailed visual representation of the applications, their interactions, and their context in relation to how it is they are used, where it is stored, how it is connected, and compare this graphically, in real-time, against any standardized benchmarks set by the security team.
  • Safeguarding critical applications – Limiting a cyberattack’s lateral spread from one cloud instance, compromised server, virtual machine, or container to another, microsegmentation gives security teams clearer visibility into any threat and means they can more easily enforce best practices across an organization’s multiple environments. Limiting permissions can give DevOps more freedom to be agile by offering security as default.
  • Improved conformity – Best practices are becoming compulsory. Regulated data is easily protected with microsegmentation. From cyber insurance compliance to legal local data standards, proving your organization is acting on the best security advice is critical for fostering trust, meeting data standards, and simplifying the data auditing process.

Microsegmentation is leading the way in smoothing the journey to digital transformation and cloud adoption. Perimeter-focused defenses aren’t as effective as they once were, and the Zero Trust security model is now the go-to solution for preventing breaches from becoming organizational disasters. Microsegmentation supports rapid development, and is generally recognized as the best practice for creating a layered security solution against an ever-evolving modern threat landscape.

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