Network segmentation refers to the process of splitting a large computer network into several smaller subnetworks; they are connected, but they also function independently and require different access information. You might not previously have heard about network segmentation, but it actually comes with a number of advantages, particularly for security.
The old model
It has become increasingly evident to IT professionals that traditional networks are not as secure as they should be. The problem is that there’s usually a very strong firewall perimeter working alongside software adept at monitoring traffic coming into the network. However, anything that finds its way within is going to be past all the major security points and able to enjoy free range. It’s a very outward facing security model, and it needs to be replaced by one that considers what’s happening inside the network as much as what’s trying to access it from outside.
A new sense of security
The network segmentation process reinvents the traditional model by essentially placing a set of new perimeters within the larger one. This improves security in the following three main ways:
- Access Control: Instead of providing employees access to your entire network, you’ll only be providing access to the specific resources that they need. This helps prevent anyone accessing or sharing information that they shouldn’t be looking at to begin with.
- Monitoring: When your network is segmented, it will keep a log of all movements, detect when files are shared, and monitor for any suspicious behaviour. This does occur with standard networks, but not to nearly the same degree.
- Containment: Most importantly, segmentation means that any problems that do arise can probably be safely contained. If a virus infiltrates one part of your network, it generally won’t be able to move through the whole system before it is detected by an IT support professional. If your network is attacked by ransomware, you’ll probably find that only a portion of your data has been encrypted. Obviously these situations still aren’t ideal, but they’d almost certainly be a lot worse without segmentation.