Computer systems today need to be robust enough to cope with more users and devices than ever before. This can pose a visibility problem, with the ever-expanding needs for system access making securing a particular network a major challenge. Network segmentation can be a valuable approach when it comes to maintaining compliance and minimizing risk against this increasingly complex backdrop. Especially when SASE technology is involved.
In short, network segmentation refers to a way of controlling how traffic flows through a network by segmenting it into multiple zones or sections. Each of these zones or sections can have its own security protocols, a bit like having multiple country borders within a continent, each with its own entry requirements. Segmentation makes it possible to stop traffic in one part reaching another part of the network by way of a virtual local area network (VLAN).
What segmentation has to offer
By isolating sections of a network to force cross-segment traffic to pass through a firewall, segmentation makes it tougher for attackers to move laterally through a computer system. In this way, segmentation can improve cyber security by effectively limiting the extent to which an attack can spread. Another analogy for thinking about it is a comparison with the flood control doors in a ship. Even if water manages to breach the inside of a vessel, these watertight doors stop it from spreading to other sections and thereby sinking the ship.
With more cyber attacks taking place than ever, network segmentation can offer security without having to have a detrimental impact on performance.
This isn’t the only advantage, either. Network segmentation can also improve operational performance by reducing network congestion, protect devices that are vulnerable to attack, and potentially help improve the ease and cost with which compliance can be carried out by reducing the number of “in-scope” systems connected to systems related to sensitive data such as cardholder information. Segmentation can additionally be used to more rapidly detect malicious behavior taking place inside the network by informing relevant parties of any attempts to access certain systems that should not be accessed.
Challenges of network segmentation
But network segmentation isn’t necessarily easy. Network environments can be complex, while there may also be a lack of infrastructure control in the cloud or a lack of control over network traffic (for example, mobile or remote workers.) Outdated castle-and-moat-based cyber security (which assumes anyone inside a network can be trusted) and potential misconfigurations and management challenges all add to the challenge. In a world in which networks are no longer stored centrally, but may be distributed across different data centers and cloud environments, network segmentation approaches can require some thinking in order to allow them to scale effectively with modern requirements.
Fortunately, SASE is here to help. Short for Secure Access Service Edge, SASE unites wide area networking (WAN) with cutting-edge network security tools like cloud access security brokers (CASB), firewall-as-a-service (FWaaS) and zero trust methodologies into a unified, cloud-based model. SASE is the perfect solution for modern cyber security requirements, boasting a mix of flexibility, cost savings, increased performance and security, and reduced complexity.
The answer is SASE
SASE is an excellent choice for network segmentation, with all traffic flowing through SASE points of presence (PoPs). This makes it easy to implement consistent network segmentation anywhere required. While SASE’s benefits extend far beyond providing easier network segmentation, this is a perfect illustration of how this approach to cyber security can be such a game-changer — with features like its use of zero trust network access (ZTNA) perfect for providing native segmentation for restricting access.
Zero trusts requires that all users, endpoints and devices have to pass a verification check before they are able to receive access to a network or certain part of a network. Although zero trusts is not exactly the same as network segmentation, and vice versa, the concept of network segmentation aligns well with the zero trust model of cyber security. The presence of zero trusts, alongside some of the other security offerings that form part of SASE, therefore make it a “must-have” for any organization that is currently grappling with challenges like the ones described above.
The requirement for network segmentation grows
The need for network segmentation is only going to get greater over time, as is the case with many of the security-focused aspects of computing. Unfortunately, the traditional approach for deploying it is no longer effective. But by incorporating new technologies like SASE, organizations can benefit from the protections of segmentation without having to deal with any of the challenges and disadvantages that might otherwise accompany it.
The results promise to be transformative for whoever requires it — which, increasingly, is virtually every organization out there.