Netskope named a Leader in the 2024 Gartner® Magic Quadrant™ for Security Service Edge. Get the report

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What is Microsegmentation?

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Microsegmentation defines the act of logically or physically dividing a large network into smaller security segments.
What is Microsegmentation?
4 min read

Why is microsegmentation important? link link

The goal of microsegmentation is to improve security by limiting the lateral movement an attacker can make and controlling the access within parts of a data center or cloud deployment.

Microsegmentation enhances security by limiting an attacker’s movement and controlling access in specific areas of a data center or cloud setup. It aims to restrict lateral movement (east-west traffic) and improve security within the network. This technique helps prevent unauthorized access and reduces the potential damage caused by an attacker. By dividing the network into smaller isolated segments, microsegmentation provides an additional layer of protection against cyber threats and unauthorized access.

This process has been around for a long time in network security. It has become easier to use with software-defined networking and more virtualization. Top microsegmentation vendors provide products that create secure areas in data centers and cloud networks. These products enforce strict rules on traffic between these areas to prevent security incidents.

Microsegmentation limits the risk of breaches by reducing attack surfaces and restricts damage attackers can inflict by limiting their ability to expand access across a system. With virtualization and cloud, microsegmentation allows organizations much more granular control in security architecture.

 

How Does Microsegmentation Work? link link

Microsegmentation divides networks into isolated segments with granular security policies governing communication between workloads across segments.

A High-Level View:

  • Networks are divided into small, secure zones or isolated segments.
  • Segments have strict access controls that limit the lateral movement of threats.
  • Granular security policies enforce communication rules between workloads.
  • Restricts access using multiple methods like VLANs, ACLs, and firewalls.
  • Software-defined approaches automate policy across virtual segments

Microsegmentation divides networks into isolated segments with granular security policies governing communication between workloads across segments. This is possible through VLAN segmentation, access control lists, firewalls, and virtualization constructs. Rules enforce which workloads can communicate with each other across these locked-down segments. This zero trust approach limits lateral movement for attackers and reduces breach impact from malicious activity.

Implementing microsegmentation requires network security tools like firewalls and network access controls that can bridge across virtual infrastructure as well as VLANs to carve a large network into controlled zones. Cloud microsegmentation products utilize software-defined perimeters and identity-based segmentation rules to divide cloud environments and restrict resource access. Organizations can segment on-premise data centers by integrating virtualization platforms with physical network security.

Organizations should begin by inventorying assets, identifying trust boundaries between workloads, and designing segmented architecture. By leveraging microsegmentation tools for visibility and policy automation, organizations can deploy robust security frameworks with reduced complexity compared to legacy network architectures. The result is reduced internal exposure to threats, unauthorized access, limited blast radius from any breach, and much stronger data protection overall through microsegmentation security.

 

Network Microsegmentation link link

Network microsegmentation is the concept of dividing a large, flat enterprise network into smaller, more secure segments. This approach contains access and limits lateral movement across networks by restricting communication between individual workloads. Microsegmentation in networking establishes granular security zones that group related systems, applications, data, and services.

This process defines network-level access policies per segment, specifying approved inbound and outbound traffic flows. This forms a least privilege framework shaped to organizational needs and risk models. Microsegmentation allows next-generation firewalls, access control lists, VLANs, and software-defined perimeters to programmatically enforce communication rules within modern virtual environments.

Network microsegmentation evolved from legacy network segmentation approaches like ACLs and VLANs which were complex to scale and manage. With enterprises shifting to cloud and hybrid infrastructure, microsegmentation through software-defined networking provides greater visibility and control over sprawling, dynamic virtual network segments and communication paths. The result of entire network microsegmentation is reducing the internal exposure from breaches by building secure enclaves to isolate critical network segments via user identity-based policies which are easier to validate and maintain long term.

 

ZTNA and Microsegmentation link link

Microsegmentation and zero trust network access (ZTNA) are highly complementary concepts when securing modern network environments. Both zero trust and microsegmentation solutions embrace a “never trust, always verify” approach grounded in the least access principles.

However, while zero trust focuses on identity-based perimeter enforcement and secures remote access, microsegmentation deals with secure network segmentation and granular lateral movement controls. Together they provide overlapping security controls with zero trust setting the external perimeter and access policy enforcement while microsegmentation divides and locks down the interior network surface itself.

Zero trust microsegmentation combines the two frameworks to consistently govern resource access and communication flows based on dynamic policy regardless of user, workload, or network location. This layers access controls to reduce attack paths, limit breach impact, and incorporate a deny-by-default posture. As enterprises blend on-premises data centers and cloud deployments with increasingly porous edges, zero trust, and microsegmentation give security architects robust tools to divide network attack surfaces into logical trust zones and consistently control communication between them based on verified identity and authorization.

 

Microsegmentation FAQs link link

What is the difference between VLAN and microsegmentation?

VLANs separate broadcast domains logically, microsegmentation enforces granular security policies between network segments.

What is an application dependency?

Application dependency refers to connections and traffic flows required between software, systems, and services for correct operation.

What is segmentation and microsegmentation?

Traditional Network Segmentation divides networks broadly, microsegmentation creates granular secure segments with strict access controls.

What types of Technology Insight for Microsegmentation are Required to Deploy Properly?

Asset discovery, workload dependencies mapping, network visualization, and security policy planning tools.

What is the difference between firewall and microsegmentation?

Firewalls filter permitted traffic at a network edge, microsegmentation enforces internal security within a network.

What problem does microsegmentation solve for?

Limits internal lateral movement from breaches, and reduces blast radius of attacks via network restrictions.

Are network segmentation and microsegmentation different?

Microsegmentation takes segmentation further with dynamic, automated policy enforcement within modern virtualized networks.

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