Having a Good Strategy for Microsegmentation and Zero Trust

by Alex Hales
zero trust vs microsegmentation

The headlines have been consistent over the last few years: businesses are putting more and more money into cybersecurity remedies. Indications suggest that 2023 will be no different. 

A good security strategy will always guarantee action. Every company has a strategy that is based on its goal and vision. However, converting mission and vision into tangible objectives and efforts might be difficult for some.

Strategy execution takes an incremental approach that takes into account the needs of the company, the demands of all stakeholders, potential risks, and the processes required for success. Similarly, establishing a good strategy for zero trust microsegmentation can reduce complexity while emphasizing the effort required to secure organizational resources.

Businesses, on the other hand, should implement a zero-trust strategy in stages based on access regulations, security controls, and identity and access management (IAM). It’s not zero trust vs microsegmentation, it’s them both working in tandem to give you the best security strategy there is. When a zero trust architecture is combined with microsegmentation, the mechanism that guarantees the execution of security policies is created.

A Security Strategy Based on Zero Trust

Businesses have the capacity to proactively safeguard assets as the organization, its environment, and potential attacks change with zero trust. As a result, by prioritizing resource and information security inside hybrid and cloud systems. The zero trust architecture facilitates remote work.

Rather than relying on strategies that solely manage north-south access up to the network boundary, zero trust goes beyond the network perimeter, assuming that every network request involves risk, and attempts to control east-west access.

Authentication and verification are required for zero trust. Implementing a zero-trust strategy promotes knowledge of network identity, access controls, and policies. Businesses implementing zero trust typically begin by selecting a central domain and then progress to single sign-on (SSO) and authentication mechanisms such as two-factor (2FA), multifactor (MFA), and Extensible Authentication Protocol (EAP) (EAP).

The zero trust model promotes simplicity by removing the concept of trust. From the standpoint of employees, the switch to single sign-on emphasizes simplicity by allowing them to log in once for access to many applications. In terms of business, zero trust enables the use of existing technologies to restrict access to data, systems, assets, applications, and services.

Integrating security tools and systems, addressing known vulnerabilities, and automating repetitive operations all contribute to simplicity. Rather than being forced to make access decisions, security operations centers (SOC) verify and authorize every network request.

Microsegmentation as a Technique

Flat networks, which provided unrestricted access to all applications and data, are no longer in use. By splitting networks into sub-networks or zones, network segmentation serves as a stopgap measure to prevent unwanted access to sensitive data. 

For instance, on a switch, business-critical applications might be hosted on one VLAN while devices that need access to the applications are located on another. SOCs use firewalls as a gateway between the VLANs and the subnetworks.

Problems frequently arise in a segmented network because application servers are located on the same subnetwork. Communication and access between servers may expose a server to vulnerability.

Microsegmentation links cybersecurity measures to specific application workloads rather than permitting unrestricted movement within a zone. Specific applications and related information are under protection of secure micro-perimeters inside the perimeter.

By tying predetermined policies to application workloads; you can control traffic flow and stop attackers from moving laterally once they’ve broken into the system. SOC employees can swiftly identify threats, implement security measures, and limit the scope of breaches in real-time. This is possible because microsegmentation reduces attack surfaces and boosts productivity.

Microsegmentation and Zero Trust Operate Together

There are occasionally gaps between strategy and procedure. A zero trust architecture combines high-level cyber strategy planning with goals for personal access and risk reduction. Microsegmentation, on the other hand, fills in the gaps. It does so by offering a way to implement and carry out a zero trust-based strategy.

Zero trust is based on the granularity offered by single sign-on and authentication systems. SOC teams can access familiar devices and users as well as the permissions, memberships, and policies that have been allocated to them. By creating secure micro-perimeters around particular application workloads and regulating traffic between workloads, microsegmentation increases the granularity.

Implementing zero trust enhances data management and guards sensitive data from breaches. Microsegmentation also improves an organization’s zero trust cyber maturity. The third pillar of the Zero Trust Maturity Model established by the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency is Network/Environment (CISA).

Implementing fully distributed ingress/egress micro-perimeters and deep internal microsegmentation based on application workflows results in reaching the ideal maturity level for network segmentation.

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