- Any security project’s primary focus should be data security, zero trust micro-segmentation aids security teams in protecting workloads, users and devices.
- The initial phase entails determining and ranking the most important assets that also demand the highest level of Security. (the Protect Surface vs. the Attack Surface).
How do you define your network security perimeter as workloads, applications and data migrate to the cloud or business operations expand to include branch offices, remote data centers and work-from-home employee settings? You actually don’t have to – with Zero Trust Networks.
The zero-trust model proposes shifting security from a perimeter-based model to the one based on continuous trust verification. This model assumes that a network has already been breached. The key recommendation is to implement micro-perimeters or micro-segments to control access to sensitive assets and limit potential attacker damage.
Traditionally, businesses have always put many of their resources into perimeter defense solutions, with the belief that the source of the threat is always from outside the network and that a fortified firewall will keep away any intruders. However, with the rise of digital, remote and global access, conventional perimeter security measures are sometimes insufficient. The rising number of hacks and stolen data proves this fact.
Safeguarding your data with zero trust
The primary focus of any security project should be data security, zero-trust micro-segmentation aids security teams in protecting workloads, users and devices. Thanks to micro-segmentation, security teams can now deploy the required segments, controls, technologies and capabilities. The ongoing assessment of permission and authentication for every communication attempt between segments, both within and across data centers and cloud environments, is required by zero trust – simultaneously!
A zero-trust architecture prevents the malware from spreading even if an attacker has access to an endpoint since controls are imposed with each connection request.
Why so? Zero-trust micro-segmentation is essential in thwarting assaults because it ensures that the data at the center of a distributed network is always kept separate. Consequently, it enables the isolation of infected systems from the rest of the network and guarantees that attackers cannot utilize the approved policies to access the procedures and information they desire!
However, there is no way to stop an assault from moving forward without segmentation after it has bypassed endpoint protections and moved beyond them.
All nodes in a zero-trust micro-segmentation network are designed to be separated so the system can penalize overly lenient nodes. The sensitivity and importance of the data inside each application, host and service segment determine how stringently those limitations should be applied. It doesn’t matter how the traffic moves between the portions (e.g., IP addresses, ports, protocols and unmonitored communication pathways)!
Live-in-action! How to implement micro-segmentation
For micro-segmenting networks, various methods and tools are available; which one is chosen depends on the organization’s goals, the network’s current design and the network’s security requirements. Here is a list of suggestions that have been put together to assist you in the implementation:
- For starters, you must first draw a diagram of the network traffic flow and dependencies. For example, you shouldn’t unintentionally create a micro-perimeter that blocks access to a vital data source for enterprise applications.
- Next, use the information from your traffic flow and interdependency maps to determine how to micro-segment the network to safeguard each “protect surface” or a critical network resource.
- Consider developing a vendor-neutral zero-trust framework incorporating your IAM solution, next-generation firewall and other zero-trust network technologies – to simplify network management.
A zero-trust security approach cannot be accomplished without network micro-segmentation. Using micro-segmentation, you can establish particular security guidelines and restrictions. Furthermore, it makes verifying the reliability of the users, equipment, software and other elements connected to your company network easier.
A 5-step method for zero trust implementation
1. Find out what your sensitive assets are
The initial phase entails determining and ranking the most critical assets, which also demand the highest level of security (the protect surface vs. the attack surface). It would be best if you now involved other corporate stakeholders in assisting you in locating and identifying these assets. Remember that this process can only be implemented with the management team’s consent.
2. Draw a map of your sensitive assets’ primary business flows
In this step, communication flows throughout the hybrid and then multi-cloud architecture are mapped out and visualized. Finding all the network assets and communication channels is complex and time-consuming. However, you may design access controls and segmentation policies by looking at the traffic.
An accurate topology map that shows what is deployed, where and what connects to what (workloads, programs and their dependencies, network control points and more) throughout the hybrid environment is provided by a security management business via a centralized console. The segmentation project can be started or modified quickly and with an exact picture of the surroundings. One thing to remember is that the more precise the topology, the less likely it is that something will break when security restrictions are implemented!
3. Creating a split in the zero-trust architecture
The architecture is segmented in this step by looking at each sub-network and assessing whether the additional division is necessary. Your security management provider can help you evaluate the segmentation rules in place and identify those that are incorrectly configured, too permissive, underused, redundant or shadowed among other things.
The security management company offers pertinent data including the last hit, last modified, shadowing status, rule description and more. This information helps lower risk and improve rule base modification.
Additionally, your security management company’s Automatic Policy Generator (APG) examines traffic flows to improve current policies or automatically produce new policies, which aids in cleaning and redesigning segmentation.
Path analysis and what-if analysis highlights the potential effects of each new rule or rule change throughout the multi-vendor, hybrid environment.
4. Creating the zero trust policy
This stage involves developing the zero trust security policies that guarantee that only the appropriate individuals or groups can access the data and services throughout the hybrid environment. Here is where you want to ensure your policies are relevant to safeguard your valuable possessions.
Maintaining a zero-trust environment that is constantly monitored till final phase is maintaining an up-to-date rule base through ongoing monitoring and, if necessary, automating updates. It is impossible to handle security without automation when infrastructure is complicated. Rules should be evaluated frequently to determine whether they need to be updated or removed, as things change constantly. Without a complete, precise topology, this is practically impossible.
The reality is that most security teams are afraid of making a mistake and hence rarely update or decommission regulations. Additionally, as time passes, you accumulate hundreds of rules that are impossible to monitor manually and no longer applicable to the present communication and business demands.
It’s crucial to keep an eye on every network component to spot policy infractions like unauthorized access changes or excessively liberal policies. Identifying interconnected and vulnerable assets is essential to prioritize and carry out an effective clean-up.
Each company has a strategy built around its mission and vision. For some people, it might be challenging to translate purpose and vision into concrete objectives and actions. Executing a strategy involves taking small, incremental steps while considering the requirements of the company, the requirements of all stakeholders, potential risks and the procedures necessary for success. Like this, you putting zero trust micro-segmentation into practice can simplify things while highlighting the effort required to protect corporate resources.
However, organizations should implement a zero-trust strategy gradually using access restrictions, security measures and identity & access management (IAM). The action that guarantees the effectiveness of security measures is created by combining a zero-trust architecture with micro-segmentation. Understanding the threats that now affect an organization and the possibility of emerging threats is the foundation of this incremental approach to cyber strategy. Auditing the network establishes the visibility and control for determining the trust levels for applications and data, given this ongoing awareness of policies, controls, access and the threats.