Segmenting your network adds layers and security zones to it, dividing it into multiple segments acting as their own network. This is a key piece in the Zero Trust architecture, as we covered in our Zero Trust series here. For those looking to introduce a sophisticated network defense and enable Zero Trust, these network segmentation best practices will help you.
What Are the Benefits of Network Segmentation
Before we get into network segmentation best practices, let’s review a few key reasons why you should be segmenting your network in the first place. A primary reason you segment your network is to obstruct lateral movement of a bad actor.
In a traditional “flat” network, if a user gains access, they can quickly move across the network with little challenge. There are few barriers to entry and once they pass those barriers, there is very little stopping them.
By spreading assets into various security zones, each with their own security and redundancies, a user who gains access to the corporate network may find that they are unable to access the endpoints they are looking for to begin with. Each security zone can have its own access rules, boundaries and protections, acting as its own subnetwork. In a Zero Trust environment, this would be reinforced and complemented by other elements of the architecture.
Network Segmentation benefits:
- Additional security layers and redundancies make it harder for a bad actor to access your critical endpoints, even if they can breach one security measure.
- Improved monitoring and threat detection
- Further clarify and enforce your access control policies by enforcing least-privileged access to your most sensitive security zones with a platform like ConsoleWorks
- Enforce a Zero Trust architecture
- Meet contractual and regulatory needs
With these in mind, let’s review the network segmentation best practices that will help you achieve the most out of the benefits you receive from well-implemented network segmentation.
What Are Network Segmentation Best Practices
Learn Your Natural Boundaries First
Learn your natural boundaries first. These boundaries will be dictated by your operational and security needs, and further by regulations or contracts. The needs of your accounting segment will certainly differ from your OT segment requirements, and each will have its own regulations or compliance requirements to fulfill. This will help you to initially map out your segments.
From there you can further microsegment your most critical assets and endpoints, adding additional layers of security and access rules around them to ensure they are well protected.
Don’t Over Segment Your Network
Keeping the first practice in mind, it’s also important not to over segment your network, as this can become a hindrance just to accessing or even knowing what is going on. Your network segmentation must meet your needs, both security and operational, while not impairing you.
Ensure You Are Auditing and Logging
This will take you even closer to realizing your Zero Trust needs. You’ll have greater insights into what is happening on your network and as you have various security zones, you can easily monitor and assess what is happening within each, or even prevent something from spilling over into other zones.
Isolate Your Supply Chain
We’ve talked already about the risks you take on from your supply chain and that you must account for these. One way to make sure you are doing this is by not giving full access to your supply chain. Instead, those vendors who need access to certain information are segmented into their own space, in addition to layering other security measures like privileged access management on top of it. In the event of a breach on their end, you have reduced your risk.
Taking Your Next Steps
Having these network segmentation best practices in mind, you’re ready to complement other parts of your Zero Trust security architecture. You can review what those elements are in our three part series. Should you have any questions, we are always available to talk about your particular needs here.