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Rethinking Segmentation for Better Security

Cloud services and their related security challenges will continue to grow

One of the biggest shifts in the enterprise computing industry in the past decade is the migration to the cloud. As more and more organizations discover the benefits of moving their data centers to private and public cloud environments, this trend is expected to continue dominating the enterprise landscape. Gartner projects cloud services will grow exponentially from 2019 through 2022, with Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) being the fastest growing segment of the market, already showing an increase of 27.5% in 2019 compared to 2018.

So what’s the big challenge?

The added agility of cloud infrastructure comes with a trade-off, in the form of increased complexity of cyber security. Traditional security tools were designed for on premise servers and endpoints, focusing on perimeter defense to block the attacks at the entry point. But the dynamic nature of hybrid cloud services meant that perimeter defense became insufficient. When the perimeter itself is constantly shifting, as data and workloads move back and forth among public and private clouds and on premise data centers, the attack surfaces became much larger and required network segmentation to control lateral movement within the perimeter.

From the early days of clouds, segmentation became a popular concept. Traditionally, businesses were looking to divide the network into segments and enforce some sort of access control between the segments. In practice, the way it worked was that relevant servers were put into a dedicated VLAN and routed through a firewall. The higher level of segmentation meant smaller segment size, which reduced the attack surface and limited the impact of any potential breach.

Then – the rules of the game changed! Moving from one static cloud to dynamic, hybrid cloud-based data centers

Simple segmentation by firewalls used to work in the past, when the networks were comprised of relatively large static segments. However, the “rules of the game” have changed significantly in recent years. Dynamic data centers and hybrid cloud adoption have created problems that cannot be solved with legacy firewalls, and yet achieving segmentation is now more vital than ever before. The cadence of change to the infrastructure and application services is very high, accentuating the need for granular segments with an understanding of their dependencies and impacting their security policy.

Take, for example, the 2017 Equifax breach. The US House of Representatives report on this incident pointed directly to the lack of internal segmentation as one of the key gaps that allowed the breach impact to be so big, affecting 143 million consumers.

Regulation is another driver of segmentation. One of Guardicore’s customers, a global investment bank, needed to comply with a new regulation of SWIFT – which requires all SWIFT servers to be put into a separate segment and whitelist all connection allowed in and out of this segment. Using traditional methods, it took the bank 10 months and a costly labor-intensive process to complete this change, spurring them on to find smarter segmentation methods moving forward.

The examples above demonstrate how although segmentation is a known and well understood security measure, in practice organizations struggle to implement it properly in a cost-effective way.

Adapt easily to these changes and start micro-segmentation

To deal with these challenges, micro-segmentation was born. Micro-segmentation takes enterprise security to a new level and is a step further than existing network segmentation and application segmentation methods, adding visibility and policy granularity. It typically works by establishing security policies around individual or groups of applications, regardless of where they reside in the hybrid data center. These policies dictate which applications can and cannot communicate with each other.

Micro-segmentation includes the ability to fully visualize the environment and define security policies with Layer 7 process-level precision, making it highly effective at preventing lateral movement in a hybrid cloud environment.

Take the first step in preparing your enterprise for a better data security

Want to learn more? Listen to Guardicore’s CTO and Co-founder, Ariel Zeitlin, as he walks through the challenges and the solutions to better secure your data in his latest interview with the CIO Talk Network. In this podcast, Ariel discusses the new approaches to implementing segmentation, the key aspects you need to consider when comparing different vendors and technologies, and what comes ahead of the curve for security leaders in this space.

 

Want to learn more about how to first think through, then properly implement micro-segmentation? Read our white paper on operationalizing your segmentation project.

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The hidden costs of VLAN segmentation

Network segmentation is a simple-to-understand and effective tool for reducing the attack surface and, as a result, the risk to applications, groups of servers, and other critical IT assets. The idea is simple – instead of having a flat anyone-can-talk-to-anyone-on-any-port environment where an infected server has unlimited access to all other servers, with network segmentation you can limit the connection possibilities.

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