Home TECHNOLOGY A Beginner’s Guide To Network Segmentation

A Beginner’s Guide To Network Segmentation

by John Milton
A Beginner’s Guide To Network Segmentation

In our modern world, businesses are more dependent on remotely working employees, cloud services, and digital technologies. These variables make a business’s network more complex and difficult to safeguard, especially if this business uses traditional security approaches. When companies use modern security solutions that can keep up with dynamic traffic flow and cyber risks, they get an upper hand against cyber criminals. These solutions allow businesses to maintain overall network security against all kinds of malicious intrusions.  

Network segmentation is one of these modern solutions that provide many benefits such as improved network security and reliable network performance. In this regard, network segmentation definition refers to a process of dividing a corporate network into smaller sub-networks and preventing users, devices, or third-party entities from laterally moving between sub-networks. Before listing the perks of network segmentation, let’s see in detail what network segmentation is and how it improves network security. 

What Is Network Segmentation? How It Improves Network Security?

Imagine you have several branch locations, and many remotely working employees who reach your networks at different end-points. If you have a flat, not divided network, everyone with the right user credentials can freely roam in your network and reach every resource, data, and asset your business has. The main idea behind network segmentation is to create multiple sub-networks and limit users’ access within those sub-networks. 

For instance, once network segmentation is implemented, an employee from the HR department can’t access your financial reporting system as his job role doesn’t require access to financial systems. This security policy applies to all branch locations, employees, and devices. So, primarily network segmentation aims to secure the segments and operational systems that contain confidential information by separating those from other sub-networks and restricting access to these areas. 

Simply put, network segmentation enables extra-layer of security in segments that contain sensitive data and improves network security. For instance, if a cyber attack occurs, network segmentation reduces the surface area of attack and prevents attackers from reaching other sub-networks and damaging the systems further. With segmented sub-networks, it is easier to enact security policies and measures. Shortly, network segmentation allows businesses to detect and isolate threats rapidly.  

Additionally, network segmentation is used to improve network performance, and prevent network congestion issues. For example, without network segmentation, all branch locations, and employees’ access to a single whole network, naturally user-generated traffic in your network increases drastically. This leads to poor performance and network congestion issues that negatively affect employees’ productivity and all organizational operations.

When network segmentation is implemented well, a business’ individual internal departments can be segmented into separate sub-networks, meaning each department can only access the sub-networks which is necessary to perform their duties effectively. This allows a business to dispense user-generated traffic across sub-networks, maintain lighter traffic inside the network perimeter, and establish improved network performance. 

Perks Of Network Segmentation

1- Safeguarding Vulnerable Devices 

Network segmentation is a great way to protect vulnerable devices as it prevents malicious or harmful traffic from reaching vulnerable devices that don’t have the ability to safeguard themselves from attacks. This is a really important benefit of network segmentation because it ensures the safety of vulnerable devices. 

Most of the time, vulnerable devices are a critical part of an organization’s operations, and if these devices are damaged by cyber-attacks, organizational operations can stop, and cost your company millions of dollars. That’s why network segmentation should be implemented to secure those vital devices. 

For example, let’s suppose you have a factory, and its machinery can be damaged in the event of a cyber attack if your business doesn’t have network segmentation. But, with network segmentation, these critical devices can be segmented, and potential attacks and harmful traffic can’t reach vulnerable machinery.

2- Restricting Third Party Access

Nowadays, most businesses work with several vendors, associates, and contractors, and some of them might need access to your business’s backend systems or resources to perform their duties or deliver their service effectively. But, granting access to third-party entities is dangerous as cyber attacks occur to them, cybercriminals can use their access to attack your company, and this can put your entire network at great risk. 

With network segmentation, you can prevent any attacks that might occur via compromised third-party sites because network segmentation allows businesses to create different segments for each third-party contractor, associate, or vendor. This way, third-party entities can’t access sensitive areas in your networks and they can only reach the resources according to their duties or services. Restricting third-party access is an excellent benefit of network segmentation as it improves security and reduces risks associated with third-party entities.   

3- Improved Visibility & Monitoring

Network segmentation enables improved visibility and monitoring over the corporate networks. IT admins can see log-in records of users and monitor internal traffic at all times. Additionally, improved visibility and monitoring allow you to detect abnormal and suspicious behaviors rapidly. For instance, if someone in the HR department tries to access sensitive areas of the network, this will be considered suspicious behavior and trigger an alert. In short, IT admins will be able to isolate internal threats rapidly. 

4- Minimizing The Scope Of Compliance

With network segmentation, you can minimize the scope of compliance and reduce regulatory compliance costs. For instance, you can separate systems that are subject to compliance regulations from the rest. This way, you can leave fewer in-scope systems that need to comply with compliance requirements. So, your entire network won’t be subject to compliance requirements, and you won’t need to apply expensive penetration testing and auditing processes to every information system you have.  

Last Remarks 

In today’s world, cyber crimes are at their peak, and these malicious actors exploit every vulnerability, gap, or flaw that they find in their target’s machinery systems. That’s why establishing enhanced network security is now more important than ever, and network segmentation is a great way to do so. In many ways, network segmentation helps businesses maintain overall network security and better network performance. 

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