What is network segmentation?
network segmentationis the process of splitting and routing email traffic coming from other IP addresses based on the various functions associated with your email application. Segmentation is used to maximize performance and organization.
Network slicing is an architecture that divides a network into smaller sections, or subnets. Each network segment acts as its own network, giving security teams greater control over the traffic flowing to their systems.
With network segmentation, organizations can prevent unauthorized users from gaining access to their most valuable assets, such as customer data, financial records, and intellectual property (IP). These assets are usually located in different organizations.Hybrid and multicloud environments, which means it's important to protect all locations from cyberattacks.
Network segmentation is also commonly known as network segregation, but it differs from other related concepts such as micro-segmentation, inner segmentation, and intent-based segmentation.
1. Network Segmentation vs. microsegmentation
microsegmentationtakes a more granular approach to segmenting networks through virtual local area networks (VLANs) and access control lists. Applies policies to individual workloads that provide greater resistance to attacks.
Micro-segmentation creates smaller, more secure zones on a network, allowing the organization to create policies that minimize data flow between workloads. This limits a hacker's ability to move between compromised applications and reduces the complexity of managing network segmentation.
2. Network Segmentation vs. internal segmentation
Traditionally, network segmentation was relatively easy as companies used static IP addresses and input and output ports that made the process easier to define. However, with the growth of distributed networks and multi-cloud environments, IP addresses are constantly changing. As a result, network segmentation must evolve with the changing landscape to prevent cybercriminals from gaining access to business systems, becoming part of a trusted network and remaining under the radar.
Internal segmentation allows organizations to segment their network and infrastructure resources regardless of their location and whether they are on-premises or across multiple cloud environments. The organization can then establish granular and dynamic access by continually monitoring trust levels and adjusting its security policies accordingly. Critical IT resources are isolated to ensure threats are quickly identified and risks prevented through methods such as analytics and automation.
3. Network segmentation versus intent-based segmentation
Organizations using network slicing can manage their assets through network semantics. However, this option may not provide the required level of security. This is because there are no rules or mechanisms in place to manage necessary tasks such as access control, authentication, and trust.
Intent-based targeting solves this problem by identifying where to apply targeting, how to establish trust, and what security inspections to apply to traffic. It combines traditional threading and Zero Trust principles, providing an integrated security architecture that adapts to organizations' changing needs. Intent-based targeting allows them to detect and mitigate advanced threats and grant variable access as needed.
Intent-based targeting spans an entire network and its assets, including all endpoints and devices, making it more complete than traditional solutions or a flat network. It also uses existing mechanisms such as B. Business logic and identity-based networking tools. This allows organizations to allow or deny access to network resources based on trust and risk scores for suspicious user behavior and actions.
Companies can also manage the required level of security inspection traffic and encrypt all traffic as it arrives at network speeds. This is crucial as trusted users could inadvertently fall victim to a malware attack and could provide a way for hackers to access the network.
Network Segmentation and the Zero Trust Model
Traditionally, organizations have built their security strategies around a trusted network perimeter. The theory was that anyone working within the four walls of the company is trusted and treated as such behind the corporate firewall. However, as people increasingly work remotely and on different devices, this approach is no longer effective.
Rather than securing the network perimeter, the Zero Trust model takes a never-trust, always-check approach to ensuring that only the right people have the right access to the right resources in the right context. Access is continuously evaluated without adding friction to users such as login requirements.
User credentials can be managed byIdentity and Access Management (IAM) solutions.that protect sensitive data and people. IAM is a framework of policies, processes, and technologies that enable organizations to manage their digital identities and user access to critical information and resources. Assign roles to users to ensure they have the right access to resources and networks, increasing security, providing greater agility and reducing costs.
IAM improves the user experience while keeping the business secure. This is done with tools likeSingle logon (SSO) and Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) that quickly and easily verify and authenticate users. It also automates time-consuming and human-error-prone tasks, which is critical as organizations embrace mobile and remote working and cloud adoption.
Organizations now also need to be able to see and protect a wide range of devices that log on to their network. As a result,network access control(NAC) helps with Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies and supports Internet of Things (IoT) devices. This increases visibility into all devices and users connecting to the network, restricts the areas of the network devices can access, and automates responses to reduce event response times.
Benefits of network segmentation
Network segmentation offers many benefits to businesses. This includes reducing the attack surface and preventing attackers fromlateral movementbetween systems and improving performance levels. Key benefits of network segmentation include:
Segmentation improves security by preventing attacks from spreading across a network and infiltrating unprotected devices. In the event of an attack, segmentation ensures that malware cannot spread to other corporate systems. Additionally, by allowing different devices to pass through a firewall, organizations can enforce least privileges, giving users enough access to do their jobs and scan devices for potential threats.
A good example of this is targeting, which prevents a malware attack in a hospital from reaching mission-critical devices that do not have security software installed.
Network segmentation reduces congestion that often causes performance degradation. This is especially important for resource-intensive services such as online gaming, media streaming, and video conferencing.
For example, by reducing network congestion through segmentation, organizations that rely on videoconferencing tools to run meetings can prioritize the performance of their applications. Congestion can cause packets to be dropped, delaying transmission, making audio and video quality erratic and difficult to understand. However, network traffic segmentation can ensure high quality video conferencing.
3. Monitoring and Response
Network segmentation simplifies the monitoring processnetwork traffic. It helps an organization quickly identify suspicious activity and traffic, log events, and record connections that have been approved or denied. By dividing subnets, organizations can monitor inbound and outbound traffic, which is less difficult than monitoring the entire network. This simplifies security and reduces the likelihood that a threat will go unnoticed.
Use cases where this might apply are organizations that need to comply with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS). Effective traffic monitoring is critical to preventing credit card data from being compromised and minimizing the complexity of a PCI DSS assessment.
Types of Network Segmentation
Network segmentation allows an organization to divide its systems into smaller sections. You can do this physically and logically.
1. Physical Segmentation
Physical segmentation divides networks into multiple physical sections or subnets. A firewall acts as a gateway, controlling traffic in and out of the network along with hardware such as access points, routers, and switches. Physical segmentation is generally considered a simple method, but it can often be expensive and lead to unforeseen problems.
2. Logical segmentation
Logical segmentation is a more popular method of dividing the network into smaller, more manageable chunks. Often, the organization does not need to invest in new hardware or cabling, which helps reduce costs and is more flexible.
A logical segmentation approach employs existing network infrastructure concepts using VLANs or a network addressing scheme. VLANs automatically send traffic to the most appropriate subnet, whereas a network addressing scheme is more complicated and theoretical.
How Fortinet can help
Network segmentation is critical for organizations to protect their resources, systems and users and minimize the risk of attackers gaining access to their critical corporate information. To achieve this, traditional technologies that organizations have used for years to segment their networks must be combined with modern alternatives that offer protection against more advanced threats.
Traditional technologies like VLANs, which improve traffic management, and access control lists, which add a layer of security by acting as a firewall across subnets, help organizations segment network traffic. They must be combined with a modern solution like this.FortiGate Next Generation Firewall (NGFW), which allows organizations to filter network traffic and provide advanced visibility. This, in turn, allows them to detect and prevent advanced threats and malware. FortiGate not only blocks malware, it also ensures organizations are future-proof and receive updates that keep them in sync with the evolving threat landscape.
For high-performance threat protection and modern approaches to network segmentation,Segment in red with FortiGate.
frequently asked questions
What is network segmentation?
network segmentationis the process of splitting and routing email traffic coming from other IP addresses based on the various functions associated with your email application.
What are the three main advantages of network segmentation?
Network segmentation offers many benefits to businesses. This includes reducing the attack surface, preventing attackers from traversing systems and improving performance levels.