Because of the developed and sophisticated cyberthreats, traditional cybersecurity strategies like perimeter security methods are losing their effectiveness. Using comprehensive and advanced cybersecurity strategies like segmentation can help you to reduce the blast radius of cyberattacks or data breaches.
However, since segmentation is a vague concept it sometimes can get complicated to decide which segmentation model you should implement. In this article, we will define two different segmentation models and how they differ from each other; network segmentation and micro segmentation.
What is Network Segmentation?
Network segmentation is a discipline and framework that divides a computer network into numerous subnetworks. The main idea behind network segmentation is to allow network operators to use precise security policies and regulate traffic flow between subnetworks.
Network segmentation prevents a single point of failure and makes it difficult for unauthorized users to jeopardize the whole network by segmenting the network into discrete contained pieces. Simply, it prevents attackers from moving around the network and accessing sensitive data.
In a securely segmented network, malicious traffic can not access the entire network. This reduces ransomware’s capacity to propagate or an attacker’s ability to move from system to system. It also gives IT time to find the breach and mitigate the impact since attackers will only be able to access the first section of the system they breached.
What is Micro Segmentation?
Micro segmentation is a network security strategy that divides the data center into independent security segments and allows you to set different security policies and supply services for each segment. Micro segmentation gives you the option of restricting access to all devices, endpoints, and applications.
Micro segmentation is a technique for isolating workloads inside a data center. This prevents traffic from crossing workload boundaries without being inspected for content and subjected to access control restrictions. It increases network traffic visibility and provides control over data flows between workloads.
Micro segmentation also restricts lateral movement which decreases the impact of a cyberattack or data breach. Cybersecurity and networking teams can observe all the data flows across their different workloads which helps them to understand the interdependencies between various workloads and to see any irregularities that might suggest cyberattacks or problems.
Now that the question “what is micro segmentation?” is covered let’s take a look at how micro-segmentation and network segmentation differ from each other.
What Is The Difference Between Micro Segmentation and Network Segmentation?
Even though they may sound similar, there are fundamental differences between network segmentation and micro segmentation. For example, micro segmentation is used to divide the data center into separate security segments while network segmentation creates sub-networks within the overall network.
However, it is safe to say micro segmentation was developed as a result of the trust structures of network segmentation. According to network segmentation, users are trusted once inside a specified zone of the network resulting in data breaches.
On the other hand, micro segmentation adds a layer of protection for lateral traffic which means even if an unauthorized user managed to access a network that user will not be able to move across the network.
Let’s take a closer look at how they differ;
- It uses firewalls, VLANs, and access control lists.
- SDN-based control is essential.
- Since control and management is centralized managing security for each host takes less time.
- It uses granular policies.
- It enforces policies on subnets and VLANs.
- It can be used to control host-to-host communication.
- It controls lateral (east-west) traffic.
- It uses data centers, the cloud, and VMs.
- SDN-based control is optional.
- Central administration through orchestrators is not required.
- It uses network-level policies.
- It enforces policies on VMs and hosts.
- It can not detect threats in the host-to-host communication.
- It controls the north-south traffic path.
Since micro segmentation is evolved from network segmentation we can not say that they are completely different from each other. They both provide you with improved security, monitoring, and performance while helping you to control access and reduce the impact of possible attacks.
However, micro segmentation definitely offers much more in-depth and granular security measures. So, we can say that the network segmentation is the first step, but you eventually need to implement micro segmentation.