Is your IT department using network segmentation?

Despite the vast amount of technology that’s developing IT professionals are constantly battling sinking networks. To combat this, system administrators (sys-admins) are deploying segmented networks to limit network intruders’ reach into the network.

Network segmentation is the process of isolating portions or segments of a network to provide improved performance and security. By separating different segments of a network, you allow only the users who require specific tools or applications to access that portion of the network. This improves security. If a breach occurs, the offender is unable to glean sensitive material from the entire network. When a network is unsegmented, all users have access to more sensitive data, and the entire network can be disrupted. As verified in recent news, no one is immune to cyber-attack. Even our government’s premier organizations have been targets of these invasions. Whether your business is small or large, establishing more than one perimeter of defense can protect your investment.

Separation of layers in a network using segmentation can benefit from a firewall as well as utilization of Data Loss Prevention (DLP) technologies. In addition, an Intrusion Prevention System (IPS) can be applied to examine traffic flowing through the network and prevent vulnerabilities that allow an invader to damage the system.

As for network monitoring best practices, two types of network segmentation are explicit and implicit methods. The explicit approach divides specific groups of resources. This places security between the user and resources. The advantages to this methodology is to limit traffic and to create logs. Although users and servers are still visible to each other, the firewall policy allows the user to access only what is needed to perform his job. Although, this doesn’t totally protect your system from cyber-attack, it implements a more efficient way to manage and correct the intrusion if you know the type, target, and source of the offense.

Implicit segmentation divides all collections of resources. Implicit segmentation is used most efficiently when a new design is created. In this scenario, the firewall is the core, and each network segment has its own interface to the firewall. Although the implicit approach is an improvement over the explicit system, it usually increases latency and can be a challenge for an application with high loads. In such cases, you may have to modify the network design.

The benefits of network segmentation extend beyond security gains. Enhanced visibility and threat recognition are additional advantages. Granted, not every threat is going to be detected by simply deploying a segmented network, a robust network monitoring solution needs to be in place as well. There are many paid solutions out there, and a handful of strong and free network monitoring options too.

Implementation challenges have plagued network segmentation since it’s inception. Maintenance was time consuming and difficult to adapt as the network became larger. Updates required modification of access controls and enforcement locations that had to be changed separately. Segmentation relied on testing and implementation which could be problematic. But with the development of software based segmentation, even global networks can reap the benefits of increased security as well as other benefits that accompany it. By removing security guidelines from hardware relationships, security rules are more understandable, and reliability can be maintained even in a changing environment. By utilizing software-based segmentation, administrators can consolidate changes in a single point and drive it through the system to each execution location instantaneously.

With a network where each user is connected to many resources in excess of function necessities, a security breach will occur sooner or later. As each network is individual, a solution that works for one may not work for another. Each business has distinctive requirements, and executives have diverse tolerance to information risks. A network access control list, a virtual local area network, and appropriate firewall rules in combination with network segmentation can better protect sensitive information. These measures enhanced with a penetration test and recurrent security evaluations will identify vulnerable points in the system, create greater visibility, and reduce and identify threats.

Would you recommend this article?


Thanks for taking the time to let us know what you think of this article!
We'd love to hear your opinion about this or any other story you read in our publication.

Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada
Robert Cordray
Robert Cordray
Robert Cordray is a former business consultant and entrepreneur with over 20 years of experience and a wide variety of knowledge in multiple areas of the industry. He currently resides in the Southern California area and spends his time helping consumers and business owners alike try to be successful.

Featured Download

IT World Canada in your inbox

Our experienced team of journalists and bloggers bring you engaging in-depth interviews, videos and content targeted to IT professionals and line-of-business executives.

Latest Blogs

Senior Contributor Spotlight