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When it comes to network security, there are a lot of methods to help strengthen it. One such method, that will not only increase the overall security of your enterprise, but it will also simplify the monitorization and response to vulnerabilities is network segmentation. Today, we will take a look at what network segmentation is, how it works, and what benefits it brings.

Defining Network Segmentation

Also known as network partitioning or network isolation, network segmentation is the process that divides a network into multiple subnets, each one functioning as a small, individual network. Isolating the network into separate contained parts effectively prevents a single point of failure, and makes it difficult for threat actors to compromise the entire network of your business.

How Does Network Segmentation Work?

To understand easier how network segmentation works, let’s pretend a threat actor gained access to your network. After breaching in, they will attempt to move around the network to access and exploit sensitive data. If you have a flat network, meaning that all the systems connect without having to go through intermediary devices like routers, the threat actor will have an easy time gaining access to the entire system of your company.

However, if your network is segmented, the threat actor will only be able to access the initial section they breached. This will give your IT team time to locate the breach and minimize the impact of the intrusion.

This is because segmentation works by regulating the network’s traffic flow. Depending on the location, traffic might be confined to segments or to specific areas, as well as to where it can and cannot travel. The kind, source, and destination of the traffic might also restrict its flow.

Types of Network Segmentation

There are two types of network segmentation, those being physical and virtual network segmentation.

1.     Physical Segmentation

Physical segmentation requires dedicated hardware to build segments. Although being the most secure method, it’s somewhat of a double-edged sword, as it is also the most difficult to manage. In this configuration, each segment has its individual internet connection, physical wiring, and firewall.

Physical segmentation operates on permission and trust, meaning that anything internal is trusted and anything external is not. This can represent a flaw of the physical segmentation, as in if malicious actors manage to penetrate the firewall, they are free to roam around with little to nothing to stop them.

2.     Virtual/Logical Segmentation

Virtual or logical segmentation is generally considered to be the more popular of the two when it comes to ways of isolating a network into smaller, manageable segments. An advantage over the physical segmentation is that it does not require new hardware, as long as the existing infrastructure is already being managed.

Virtual segmentation expands on pre-existing network infrastructure, such as dividing various asset types into different Layer 3 subnets and using a router to transfer data between them or establishing independent virtual local area networks (VLANs) connected to the same physical switch.

Benefits of Network Segmentation

Network segmentation benefits enterprises in a variety of ways. These include lowering the attack surface, restricting lateral system movement by attackers, and raising performance standards. The following are the most notable benefits of network segmentation:

It Improves Security

By preventing attacks from propagating throughout a network and entering vulnerable devices, segmentation enhances security. Segmentation prevents malware from spreading into other corporate systems in the event of an attack.

Additionally, companies can impose the least privilege, granting users only the access necessary to complete their tasks, and analyse the devices for potential security concerns by passing various devices through a firewall.

It Boosts Performance

Network segmentation lessens traffic congestion, which frequently causes performance decline. This is crucial for resource-intensive services like videoconferencing, streaming media, and online gaming. There are fewer hosts per subnet, which reduces local traffic.

Easy Monitorization and Quick Response

Monitoring network traffic is made easier by network segmentation. It aids in the swift detection of suspicious activity and traffic, the logging of occurrences, and the keeping track of connections that have been permitted or denied.

Splitting subnets makes it easier for businesses to keep an eye on the traffic entering and leaving them than it would be to keep an eye on the entire network. As a result, security is made simpler and there is less possibility that danger will go unnoticed.

When Can You Use Network Segmentation?

Network segmentation offers security and performance advantages in a variety of circumstances, and we are going to discuss some of them:

  • Enhance Public Cloud Security: Customers of public cloud providers are expected to handle their own application, data, and system access security. By more precisely regulating who has access to what information, network segmentation aids in achieving this protection;
  • Isolate IoT Devices: Via network segmentation you can create private networks for IoT devices, increasing the security level of the whole network. IT admins can alter permissions, for example, they can only permit devices such as security cameras to communicate within their own network;
  • Create a Safe Guest Network: IT admins can create a dedicated area for visitors, with strict security measures and activity monitoring;

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Network segmentation is a solution that can prove to be effective when facing cyber threats. Not only can it improve the overall security level of your network, but it can also boost performance by lessening traffic congestion, and it makes it easier to monitor.

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Author Profile

Cristian Neagu


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Cristian is a Content Editor & Creator at Heimdal®, where he developed a deep understanding of the digital threat landscape. His style resonates with both technical and non-technical readers, proof being in his skill of communicating cybersecurity norms effectively, in an easy-to-understand manner.

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