If You’re Benefiting from a Zero Trust Mentality for your Applications and Workloads, it’s Time to Think About your Users

According to the 2019 State of the Internet report, hackers made 30 billion attempts to attack businesses via successfully stolen credentials in 2018. Up to 2% of these attempts were successful. From just one entry point, the attackers were then able to make movements across an enterprise network, achieve fraudulent transactions, or take advantage of the business with malicious intent.

Once your organization has shored up its outer walls, and segmented the core applications that are business-critical, your people are your last line of defense. However, this doesn’t make this part of your security arsenal any less essential. As the Zero Trust eXtended framework says, “Most breaches are ultimately an inside job.” You don’t need an angry employee with an axe to grind, all you need is one instance of credential theft, and a flat network that’s easy to leverage for lateral movement within your data center.

Attacking this Head-on with your Zero Trust Model

A strong Zero Trust security strategy will include strict enforcement of user access, as well as authentication and monitoring of user behavior and movements, both within the data center and as users connect to the web. Governance of each user’s access and their privileges means that even if the worst happens and their credentials are successfully stolen, there is no way for an attacker to escalate this breach, or to make movements outside of what that specific user is entitled to access.

Think about an HR employee for example. An individual working in the HR team will need access to all the data and applications that are relevant to their role, and might also need permissions to certain financial systems for payroll, or applications that handle candidate information for on-boarding. However, they do not need extended access to anything outside of this, including other financial applications outside of their own purview, or further sensitive data connected to current employees such as medical information. In the same way as your workloads are isolated using micro-perimeters, your user access can follow suit, allowing each employee to access just what they need, and nothing further.

Features of a Strong Solution for User Identity that Leverages Zero Trust

Following the Forrester guidelines for a Zero Trust model, here’s how your security solution can check all the boxes for identity and access management, and achieve this high level of granularity and control. Whichever features you opt for, make sure that your solution can work seamlessly across any platform or infrastructure, and takes immediate effect on both active and new sessions of user activity. Without these two cornerstones, you’re starting from a place of blind spots and security gaps. With them, you’re well placed for success from the start.

  • Isolate user interactions: Using an Active Directory User Group, intelligent micro-segmentation can isolate user access exactly the way we described above, giving specific users access to certain servers and applications via specific ports and processes. This access control can be enforced between workloads in the same segment of the network, and even allows for simultaneous connections from the same server/Jumpbox.
  • Third party access management: User groups can support enforcing specific policies for each third-party connection, strengthening security where it’s weakest, while allowing the benefits of third-party integrations and partnerships. Define policies for the data center at large, as well as individual applications and workloads, providing access to just what each user needs – and no more.
  • Privileged identity management: Especially when it comes to administrative usage, this is an essential area for credential security. Admin/root access passwords are often left unchanged, and can be an open door for attackers to gain a foothold. When testing your network for weaknesses, it’s important to look at propagating using root passwords, as well as where attackers could move laterally from the initial breach.
  • Two-factor authentication: 2FA has become a baseline, heavily reducing the risk of credential compromise. If it isn’t already in place in your organization – it should be. If your managers worry that people will feel slowed down by this essential security tool, remind them of ordinary 2FA tasks that we all consider the norm, such as taking money out of an ATM with a bank card and a pin number. Soon, 2FA will be this equivalent for the workplace.
  • Web security: Phishing scams are becoming increasingly sophisticated and manipulative, and you can’t always rely on employee education to help users spot attacks ahead of time. Strong security solutions will include web security gateways that block user access ahead of time to any malicious websites.
  • User behavior analytics: You can learn a lot about the way your employees act from monitoring ‘business as usual,’ which can then help to build policy that learns from your real employees, and can alert you to anomalous actions. This could be anything from a login at an unusual time of day, to credential use when an employee should be on vacation.

Following the Zero Trust eXtended pillars is best-practice for protecting your network and its users from external and internal threats. This includes a Zero Trust model for more than just networks, applications and data alone. User Identity Access Management is a key part of your Zero Trust strategy, managing individual user access, simultaneous connections, and third-party access management. When done right, this can all be achieved from the same core technology that handles your application segmentation. This lessens the learning curve and streamlines your overall security posture with a truly holistic approach to Zero Trust.

Want to find out where your network stands when it comes to achieving a Zero Trust security strategy? Check out Infection Monkey: Zero Trust Edition, an open-source tool that can get you quick answers and recommendations in line with Forrester’s best-practices. And download our paper on how to get to zero trust implementation faster.

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Are You up to Date with the Latest Guardicore Cyber Security Ecosystem News?

2019 was an incredible year of growth and innovation for Guardicore and the world-class technology ecosystem that passionately supports it. The future for software-defined cloud and data center security transformation looks more attainable than ever. A growing number of technology vendors, both large and small, now work with us to deliver joint solutions to solve some of the biggest cyber security pain points of today’s enterprise customers.

We are honored to have some of the world’s most well-known companies as our customers, and to work together with them to secure their most critical assets as part of their digital transformation strategy. These customers build, run and manage an integrated set of applications and services to deliver a unique experience for their own internal and external customers in turn. Guardicore, alongside our technology alliance partners provides a pragmatic enterprise-ready solution that allows our customers to embrace a complex and innovative hybrid cloud environment, both culturally and through technology. As we continue to evolve in this new year, I wanted to mention and highlight a few updates.

Cloud Updates:

Guardicore is now available on the Microsoft Azure marketplace as a preferred solution after earning an IP co-sell status. Customers worldwide can now gain access to the Guardicore Centra security platform directly from the Azure marketplace.

Guardicore was selected to join the AWS’ Outpost announcement. Outposts are developed, installed and deployed by AWS on customer premises and managed as if they are part of the cloud. Read more about it in our recent blog.

Don’t miss the recent AWS and Guardicore Webinar featuring our own Dave Klein and Moe Alhassan, Partner Solutions Architect at AWS, on securing and monitoring critical assets and applications on AWS.

Native Cloud Orchestration Updates:

Guardicore now provides out-of-the-box native integration with all large Cloud Service Providers: Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform and Oracle Cloud Infrastructure. This is in addition to VMware and OpenStack integration and support for other orchestration services via built-in RESTful API. This allows our customers to truly embrace and use a hybrid cloud infrastructure, allowing them to migrate from on-premises data centers to any cloud or clouds choosing the right technology that meet their needs, whether that’s hosted servers, IaaS, PaaS or hybrid.

New Eco-system Product Certifications:

We are happy to announce that the Splunk application for Guardicore has passed the Splunk certification process. The application and the add on are now available directly from Splunkbase. Guardicore integration is available for version 7.3 and above, including the newly released Splunk version 8.x

Guardicore Centra is now listed in the SUSE catalogue which you can find here, and is a proud member of the SolidDriver program. It is also available in the IBM Global Solution Directory.

Identity Management Updates

Guardicore completed an integration as well as product certifications with Privileged Access Management solution provider CyberArk (Centra Privileged Session Management plugin available from the CyberArk marketplace) and identity providers Okta, Duo, Ping Identity, Ilex International, and Redhat SSO using SAML and Active Directory Integration. To learn more about using Guardicore Centra with CyberArk read our blog on the integration.

On-premises Virtual Desktops and Desktop-as-a-Service

Guardicore Centra is validated as Citrix ready for Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops and is listed in the Citrix Ready Marketplace. You can read more about it in this blog. In addition, we have shared information on how Centra can be used to segment users on Amazon Workspaces (DaaS).

We’re also excited about the future innovation that will be announced and demonstrated later this year. As our technology partners continue to work with us to deliver integrated solutions, you can expect more exciting announcements. Stay tuned and keep up with our blog for the most up-to-date information.

Want to learn more about how Guardicore micro-segmentation can help you protect AWS workloads? Download our white paper on supplementing cloud security and going beyond the shared security model.

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When Firewalls & Traditional Segmentation Fail, What’s the Next Big Thing?

Ask many of today’s enterprise businesses what the most important factors are to remain competitive in their industry, and you’re likely to get an answer that includes both speed and innovation. There’s always another competitor snapping at your heels, and there aren’t enough hours in the day to get down your to-do lists. The faster you can go live with new features and updates, the better.

For many, this comes at a severely high price – security. If speed and innovation are the top items on the agenda, how can you balance this with keeping your sensitive information or critical assets safe? Of course, pushing security onto the back burner is never a solution, as increased risk, compliance and internal governance mandates will continually remind us.

A fellow cybersecurity evangelist Tricia Howard and I discussed this conundrum a while back. She came up with a terrific visual representation of this dilemma which can be seen in the Penrose Triangle, below. This diagram, also known as the ‘impossible triangle’ is an optical illusion. In this drawing, the two bottom points, speed and innovation, make the top point, security, seem like it’s further away – but it’s not.

penrose triangle

Penrose “Impossible” Triangle. Used in an analogy to modern IT challenges as proposed by cyber evangelist Tricia Howard.

First, let’s look at how organizations are achieving the speed and innovation corners of this triangle, and then we can see why securing our IT environments has become more of a challenge while still an ACHIEVABLE one.

Understanding the Cloud and DevOps Best Practices

There are two key elements to the DevOps process as we know it today. The first one is simplifying management by decoupling it from underlying platforms. Instead of managing each system/platform separately, DevOps and Cloud best practices seek solutions that provide an abstraction layer. Using this layer, enterprises can work across all systems, from legacy to future-focused, without impediment. It’s streamlining that has become essential in today’s enterprises which have everything from legacy, end of life operating systems and platforms, to modern virtualized environments, clouds and containers.

Secondly, DevOps and Cloud best practices utilize automated provisioning, management and autoscaling of workloads, allowing them to work faster and smarter. These are implemented through playbooks, scripts like Chef, Puppet and Ansible to name a few.

Sounds Great, but not for Traditional Segmentation Tools

These new best practices allow enterprises to push out new features quickly, remain competitive, and act at the speed of today’s fast-paced world. However, securing these by traditional security methods is all but impossible.

Historically, organizations would use firewalls, VLANs and ACLs for on-premises systems, and then virtualized firewalls and Security Groups in their cloud environments. Without an established external perimeter, with so many advanced cyberattacks, and with dynamic change happening all the time, these have now become yesterday’s solution. Here are just some of the problems:

  • Complex to manage: Having multiple systems just isn’t realistic. Using Firewalls, VLANs and ACLs on-premises and security groups in the cloud for example means that you have multiple systems to manage, which add to management complexity, are resource intensive and do not provide the seamless visibility required. The rule-sets vary, and can even contradict one another, and you don’t know if you have gaps that could leave you open to unnecessary risk.
  • Increased maintenance: Changes for these systems need to be carried out manually, and nothing less than automation is enough for today’s complex IT environments. You may have tens of thousands of servers or communication flows to handle, and it’s impossible to do this with the human touch.
  • Low visibility: For strong security, your business needs to be able to see down to process level, include user/identity and domain name information across all systems and assets. With a lack of basic visibility, your IT teams cannot understand application and user workflows or behavior. Any simple change could cause an outage or a problem that slows down business as usual.
  • Platform-specific: For example, VLANs do not work on the cloud, or Security Groups won’t help on-premises. To ensure you have wide coverage, you need a security solution that can visualize and control everything, from the most legacy infrastructure or bare metal servers all the way through to clouds, containers and serverless computing.
  • Coarse controls: The most common traditional segmentation tools are port and IP-based, despite today’s attackers going after processes, users or workloads for their attacks. Firewalls are innately perimeter controls, so cannot be placed between most traffic points. While companies attempt to fix this by re-engineering traffic flows, this is a huge effort that can become a serious bottleneck.

Introducing Software-Defined Segmentation: An Approach That Works with DevOps From the Start

With these challenges in mind, there are security solutions that take advantage of DevOps and cloud best practices, and allow us to build an abstraction layer that simplifies visibility and control across our environment in a seamless, streamlined fashion. One that allows us to take advantage of DevOps and cloud automation to gain speed as well.

Software-defined segmentation is built to address the challenges of traditional tools for the hybrid cloud and modern data center from the start. Just like with cloud or DevOps processes, the visibility and policy management is decoupled from the underlying platforms, working on an abstraction layer across all environments and operating systems. On one unique platform, organizations can gain deep visibility and control over their entire IT ecosystem, from legacy systems through to the most future-focused technology. The insight you receive is far more granular than with any traditional segmentation tools, allowing you to see at a glance the dependencies among applications, users, and workloads, making it simple to define and enforce the right policy for your business needs. These policies can be enforced by process, user identity, and FQDN, rather than relying on port and IP that will do little to thwart today’s advanced threats.

Software-defined segmentation follows the DevOps mindset in more ways than one. It incorporates the same techniques for efficiency, innovation and speed, such as automated provisioning, management, and autoscaling. Developers can continue to embrace a ‘done once, done right’ attitude, using playbooks and scripts such as Chef, Puppet and Ansible to speed up the process from end to end, and automate faster, rather than rely on manual moves, changes, adds or deletes.

Embrace the New, but Cover the Old

Software-defined segmentation is a new age for cybersecurity, providing a faster, more granular way for enterprises to protect their critical assets. Projects that in the past may have spanned many years can now be done in a matter of a few weeks with this new approach, quickly reducing risk and validating compliance.

If your segmentation solution is stuck in the past, you’re leaving yourself open to risk, making it far easier for hackers to launch an attack, and you’re unlikely to be living up to the necessary compliance mandates for your industry.

Instead, think about a new approach that, just like your DevOps practices, is decoupled from any particular infrastructure, and is both automatable and auto-scalable. On top of this, make sure that it provides equal visibility and control across the board in a granular way, so that speed and innovation can thrive, with security an equal partner in the triangle of success.

Securing modern data centers and clouds needs a whole new approach to segmentation. To learn more about it, check out our white paper.

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What’s New in Guardicore Centra Release 31

With release 31 we’re continuing to expand our firewall capabilities while making it even simpler for you to build and enforce a segmentation policy.

We’re doing this with features such as identity and FQDN policies. With Identity-based policies, security administrators can set granular, per-user access policies to applications. Domain name (FQDN) rules allow you to set policies based on the target domain name and save time and hassle on typing lists of ever-changing IP addresses. We’ve also integrated a first of its kind Threat Intelligence Firewall that automatically feeds into Centra daily updated blacklists of known bad actors to create rules that alert and block these communications.

In this release we are also shipping many customer requested features that were evaluated on the merit of improving operational efficiency, reducing policy creation time and taking Guardicore usability to higher levels.

Here are some of the highlights of the version:

User-based Rules

One key feature introduced in v31 is user-based rules. With this new firewall capability, customers can create rules based on Active Directory user groups to provide granular per-user access to applications. This allows you to control user access to data center and cloud resources. By linking your Active Directory to Centra, Centra is able to retrieve user information. Based on user membership in those Active Directory security groups, we allow users different access to different resources. This way you can make sure that users only access what they are entitled to. For example, this can help allow just the Billing users in your environment to access Billing resources and just the HR users to access their HR resources. No additional infrastructure is required.

FQDN Rules

You can now create policies that allow access to a specific domain by its domain name rather than its IP addresses. For example, when you want to allow a server to access windowsupdate.com, instead of typing its IP or its IP lists, you can simply refer to it by its domain name. For example, when you want to allow a server to only access github.com, instead of typing its IP or its IP derivatives (dev.github.com, community.github.com, etc.) you can simply refer to it by its domain name – github.com or *.github.com. Select *.github.com to support wildcards. The ability to type a domain name saves the time and hassle of collecting all the possible IPs and keeping track of their validity.

Threat Intelligence Firewall

Guardicore is offering a threat intelligence-based firewall to Centra SaaS users. This feature uses Guardicore’s threat intelligence sensors, distributed across major cloud providers worldwide, to create blacklists of verified malicious IP addresses. Updated daily, these IP blacklists are automatically fed into Centra to create rules to alert and block communications via malicious IP labels: top attackers, top scanners, and top CnC. To get this feature, contact Guardicore Customer Success at support@guardicore.com.

Extended support for legacy systems

Since most of our customer environments include end of life Unix, Windows and Linux that can no longer be patched and therefore pose a risk to the organization, Guardicore has expanded its operating system coverage for those legacy systems and applications. With version 31, the Guardicore Agent supports more legacy operating systems such as Redhat, Oracle and Centos 5, and has also extended its support to AIX which is a proprietary UNIX operating system commonly used by enterprise customers. Now we have the ability to extend our policy coverage to these OSes and reduce the risk they may pose.

While we listed the features that seem to be the most important, there are many more enhancements. Fthe full list of enhancements and capabilities, see the release notes that can be accessed from our customer portal.

January 2020’s Patch Tuesday

Guardicore Labs extracts what you need to know regarding the January 2020 Patch Tuesday and data centers.

Desktop Virtualization Journey Can be Safe and Sound

Show me an industry that isn’t increasing its usage of Desktop Virtualization (DV) and I’ll show you an industry that doesn’t exist. While different DV technologies are available, Virtual Desktop Infrastructure and Desktop-as-a-service are the clear choice, DaaS is essentially VDI hosted in the cloud. With VDI one deploys virtual desktops in her own on-premises data centers while DaaS takes the In-house IT burden and responsibilities to the cloud.

From Education and Healthcare, to Financial institutions and Governmental agencies, Remote application and DaaS is growing year on year. In fact, industry experts Gartner predict that by 2023 the combined number of on premises VDI users and cloud DaaS will grow by more than 50%.

Organizations are using different types of remote desktop technologies and solutions for a number of key reasons, including operational efficiency, improving their end-point compliance and remote access opportunities, enjoying the centralized management and security backups, as well as the end-user support supplied by market leaders such as Citrix. Newer deployment models provide a popular way to streamline costs, with no need to purchase software licenses, or individual workstations, items that can quickly add up. But what about keeping your data and applications secure? How does security measure up in a VDI environment?

When Shared Infrastructure Raises Risk

Traditional data centers allow for servers to be monitored for signs of threat, and isolated where necessary. However, in a VDI environment, you’ll often find that all servers and applications are on the same infrastructure, even end-user applications and those which need more security and control. Desktops are likely to be shared among a large number of users, perhaps only a step away from critical assets, applications, and data. As all of this takes place inside the data center, you’re not covered by traditional security solutions such as perimeter firewalls that only protect the entrance to your network.

An added element to consider is traffic inspection. Most end-user application traffic is encrypted using SSL or TLS, and compliance mandates require a high level of data privacy. At the same time, for security you need to have insight into traffic and communications.

For many organizations, these risks of VDI are too great. If just one VDI machine is compromised, the attacker can make movements elsewhere within the data center, and may well go undetected because of the complex environment.

User Identity Access Management and Application Segmentation: Two Solutions that Work in Tandem to Mitigate this Risk

Two powerful technologies can be used together to allow enterprise organizations to leverage VDI without worrying about security concerns. First, let’s look at User Identity Access Management.

This solution often comes hand in hand with a Zero Trust model, as the idea is that any user can only access what they need for their role or activity, and no more. Rather than simply rely on initial authentication, smart User Identity Access Management allows you to create policy based on the identity of the user that is logged in, even when multiple users are connected to the same system at the same time.

Identities can be pulled from the Active Directory, and policy will control both new sessions, and ones that are currently active. Even before a user has logged into an application, protection is in place.

active directory app protection

Now Couple Access Management with Application Segmentation

A micro-segmentation solution with granularity can create control over even the most complex environment, helping you to build out your infrastructure in a secure way that gives you peace of mind when using VDI, even defining policy based on a process, label, or other asset information.

For example, using application segmentation, you can ensure that all applications and users within the VDI environment are segmented away from specific business-critical or sensitive applications in the wider data center. You can also ring-fence the VDI environment so that no attackers can achieve lateral movement elsewhere, even in case of a breach.

application segmentation and VDI

Together, you now have a powerful, unbeatable solution. First, your user is limited to only the applications and servers they are allowed to access as mandated by your User Identity Access Management policy. Secondly, each user cannot move outside of their relevant environment, an added layer of defense, without added reliance on any specific network or location.

Reducing Complexity with Visibility

Still in fear of attacker dwell time? Make sure that your security solution comes with real-time visibility into all of your active VDI sessions and their connections. You should be able to see:

    • What specific users are doing, with identification
    • Which processes are currently running and for what purposes
    • How and where the processes are communicating
    • The exact flows that are being generated
    • Which specific applications are being used, and by whom

Another Zero Trust model mandate is to ‘Assume Access’. In this situation, when the assumed breach occurs, your IT team has accurate visibility into the source of the attack, and can see in seconds, (and without any physical or virtual taps) any lateral movement attempts from the original VDI environment to the main data center.

Lose the Fear of a VDI Environment

First, restrict the access from your VDI environment. Secondly, block access by user identity. In two steps, you’re done.

Guardicore Centra makes it simple to say yes to the benefits of a VDI environment. It integrates with Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops, and Active Directory to reduce the attack surface and improve visibility, even when considering the complex security reality of Virtual Desktop Infrastructure.

Threats Making WAVs – Incident Response to a Cryptomining Attack

Guardicore security researchers describe and uncover a full analysis of a cryptomining attack, which hid a cryptominer inside WAV files. The report includes the full attack vectors, from detection, infection, network propagation and malware analysis and recommendations for optimizing incident response processes in data centers.

Iran Cyber Threats and Defenses

Guardicore Labs explains the danger and current status of online Iranian attacks

3 Game-Changing Reasons to Deploy User Identity Access Management

Segmenting critical applications is nothing new. We’ve long since established the benefits of isolating sensitive data or essential assets in the enterprise data center, preventing potential breaches from escalating, and stopping lateral movement in its tracks. User Identity Access Management is the next essential layer of control, establishing with fine-grained policy exactly which users can access various applications in the first place, and how.

Here are our top three use cases, all of which are revolutionary for today’s enterprise data center.

Control User Access Anywhere

Many enterprises networks currently have broad permissions to business-critical systems, dangerously coarse controls that can be taken advantage of by attackers, or even manipulated with the help of human error. Not only is this bad practice for any enterprise security posture, but it also makes it increasingly difficult for organizations to remain compliant with the latest regulatory mandates.

In contrast, strong user access management policies allow specific users to be either given access or denied entry, with granular options such as permissions over specific servers, ports and processes.

Even in cases where your organization started out with a network design that allowed all users equal access, user access can be segmented to only the applications, servers and processes to which each individual user or group is entitled. Not only will your organization keep the infrastructure of a single data center, there will be no physical changes, downtime, or additional overhead as there would be with network segmentation projects, and you will be massively simplifying the road to compliance. Take PCI-DSS for example. With strong access management, you can ensure that only those users who are allowed to view cardholder data can physically access your CDE (Cardholder Data Environment).

Just as Guardicore Centra’s segmentation follows the workload rather than any particular underlying infrastructure, our User Identity Access Management follows the individual user, enforcing user governance across any environment, from legacy and bare-metal, physical desktops and laptops, to VDI and hybrid cloud platforms.

follow the user with identity access management

Manage Multiple Users, Even When Logged in at the Same Time to the Same System

Think about users who are connected to the same servers at the same time, but who have different access requirements. Perhaps one employee works for HR, and needs access to sensitive personnel files stored in HR management servers, while another works for the Finance team, and is working on an accounting application. They are both administrators, and are working within the same data center.

Without User Identity Access Management policies, the traditional way to secure their access would be with multiple jumpboxes, setting up one for each, with its own network connectivity. This gets expensive and complicated, fast.

A smart access management tool removes the complexity, and streamlines the route to secure user access, even for simultaneous logins to the same server. Each admin can connect from the same jumpbox, at the same time, and yet only have access to their own application, and be blocked from any applications outside of their purview.

user identity access management ame jumpbox no problem

Handle Third Party or Administrators Access 

It’s more important than ever to manage access for third-party vendors and partners, who may be connected to your network through SaaS, IoT devices, or as contractors working on your own systems. Third-party access management needs to be able to seamlessly handle and define user groups based on these examples and more. Traditional solutions that are based on IP addresses are complex to manage, especially when multiple users are logging on simultaneously to the same server. By using policy creation based on user-identity rather than IP, each user group can have its own policies defined for entry, giving specific access to every group or even individual user, and blocking them from moving any further. 

As there is no centralized firewall needed, and access is controlled at the endpoint, your organization can enforce control of users between workloads, even within the same segmented section on the network. Policies take effect immediately, for both new and active sessions, allowing you to act quickly and incisively in case of a security gap. 

Solving Three Problems with One Tool

In conjunction with the benefits of application segmentation, User Identity Access is an obvious step to enhance your data center security. Not only can you keep critical assets away from an attack, you can now enforce exactly who should be accessing these applications in the first place, wherever they reside. 

Want to read more about how micro-segmentation can enhance your data center security? Download our white paper on how to choose the right segmentation solution.

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