Can micro segmentation and security policies limit exposure to the risk of a breach?

Micro Segmentation

Whilst it’s fair to say that no security system or protocol is 100% and will definitely guarantee to stop the potential of a cyber security breach, there are certain security practices that can be implemented that will significantly reduce the risk of exposure to a breach. But the use of micro segmentation and ensuring that governing policies are followed which will help to minimise the risk to a large degree.

Firstly, let’s define micro segmentation. It is a technique that enables security policies to be assigned to not only applications in the data centre, but to all levels. Security models can be deployed inside data centres via what is known as a software approach. A key benefit of micro segmentation is that it can be integrated directly into a virtualised environment so that security policies can be aligned with virtual networks, operating systems and virtual machines.

Forrester Research came up with the concept of the ‘zero-trust model’ within virtualised security whereby governing policies can be assigned to workloads, network connections or virtual machines. In turn, only the required actions are enabled within the application, or workload, and anything else is blocked. It’s this model that has become central to the art of micro segmentation.

With more and more organisations moving into the cloud and the use of software applications, protecting them is critical. Traditional physical security methods are no longer effective so organisations are transitioning to virtual security which can be integrated into their environments. Virtualised security presents more agile, scalable and cost effective advantages which former perimeter-based physical security options are not able to match

There are four micro segmentation architectural models that are commonly adopted:

  1. Native micro segmentation uses the capabilities that are included in the virtualisation platform, operating system or infrastructure.

  2. Third-party micro segmentation is based on virtual firewalls that are offered by third-party vendors.

  3. Overlay micro segmentation uses a form of software, or agent, for each host instead of moderating communications.

  4. Hybrid micro segmentation is a combination of predominantly native and third-party micro segmentation.

Micro segmentation allows administrators to adapt to different scenarios quickly by sharing knowledge between security functions. Security functions are embedded into the infrastructure ensuring that all workloads and functions are secure to a high level at the same time. Network changes create the need for security; protocols implemented when the workload was initially deployed allow administrators to maintain security based on the inherent characteristics of a workload.

When adopting micro segmentation within an organisation, an organisation’s flow of network traffic to and from the data centre, and the way it communicates with the data centre, needs to be completely understood. Technology can be isolated and the necessary security protocols can be applied to each application. With a zero-trust approach to security rules and policies, communication across the network can be monitored, ensuring application security and connectivity

But micro segmentation and linking governing security policies isn’t just about the technology. It’s also about processes and people. Any security model to be implemented needs to consider how the data centre operates, how applications are deployed, how users communicate with the data centre and implement the applications

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