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Breaking Down Micro-segmentation

Posted On: May 25, 2017

Topic: Advanced Services

IT Security Solutions

data services depicted with numbers and computingThe rise of the data center means that we are storing more financial, medical and sensitive corporate data off-premises. Yet many data centers are still basing security on the old model of securing the perimeter — a method that is no longer effective on its own in today’s evolving threat landscape.

Attacks are increasing in their frequency and sophistication, and new approaches are needed to protect sensitive assets. A new approach that’s growing in popularity is micro-segmentation. This growing security trend enables fine-grained security policies to be applied to data center applications and individual workloads through virtualization. This software-only approach allows you to protect your data and applications if the hardware-based firewall is breached.

How Micro-segmentation Security Works

Micro-segmentation protects sensitive data by restricting an attacker's ability to move laterally within your data center infrastructure.

Micro-segmentation uses a virtualized, software-only model to assign security policies to individual workloads, allowing those policies to synchronize with the virtual network, virtual machines and operating systems. Policies can move with the virtual machine or workload in the case of migration or network reconfiguration.

The idea of ‘zero trust’ coined by Forrester Research is central to the concept of micro-segmentation and means that only the necessary actions and connections are enabled in a workload or application, and all else is blocked. Until now, micro-segmentation has been possible, but it’s been resource and cost-prohibitive, but network virtualization has enabled micro‐segmentation to become a reality in the software‐defined data center.

The Benefits of Micro-segmentation

Micro-segmentation holds key advantages for IT security and business operations, including:

  • Minimizing the risk and impact of breaches: If the data center perimeter is breached, micro-segmentation will block the bad actors’ lateral movements, stopping them from reaching other servers and consequently reducing the attack surface.
  • Reducing capital investment and operating expenses: Capital expenditures are decreased because there’s no need to purchase more physical firewalls for each workload. Additionally, there’s a dramatic reduction in manual tasks, resulting in lower operating costs.
  • Automating security workflows: Workloads can be grouped intelligently based on their attributes. Automated security workflows enable rapid response to threats that are adaptable, dramatically increasing the odds against adversaries that use sophisticated tactics designed to circumvent countermeasures.
  • Creating a single pane of glass: IT administrators can manage thousands of firewalls as one — automating workflows and policies and propagating configuration changes.
  • Automating IT service delivery: Provisioning for cloud and traditional applications takes place in seconds, not days or weeks.
  • Leveraging existing infrastructure: Virtual networks can coexist on physical ones. The IT team can virtualize a portion of the network by simply adding hypervisor nodes; meaning organizations can leverage their existing physical security infrastructure and deploy micro-segmentation based on their particular needs.

Micro-segmentation and network virtualization are boosting security by providing persistent security that moves with an application or workload even if the network is reconfigured. Organizations who have adopted micro-segmentation are experiencing enhanced innovation to improve the customer experience and achieve a competitive advantage by creating secure virtual networks.

At OneNeck, we have extensive experience with data center micro-segmentation and helping our customers navigate complex data center solutions. Our in-house teams of experts are ready to help you determine if micro-segmentation is a fit for your organization to defend against today's complex threats.

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