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Benefits & Best Practices of Network Segmentation

Your business’ network is both an essential tool and a major vulnerability.

On the one hand, your network enables each of your devices to speak to one another as well as connect to the internet, itself the home to your applications and data.

However, your network is also a pathway for cyber attackers into your business. If your network lacks the right systems and processes, it’s vulnerable to intruding people and programs.

But having the right systems and processes is only part of the story; when it comes to network security, how you organize your network system also matters.

In this article, we look at a proven method of organizing your network: network segmentation.

More on Small Business Cyber Security:

What’s Network Segmentation?

When segmenting a computer network, you are separating it into smaller network segments. In effect, you are separating groups of systems and applications from each other.

In a traditional or flat network, all of your workstations and servers are on the same Local Area Network (LAN). However, this isn’t always necessary; in most cases, these systems don’t have a reason to talk to or “trust’ each other.

Letting them communicate just offers an opportunity for a hacker to pivot from one system and break into another. It also frees a malware to propagate across your entire IT system.

Traditional Networks are Weak

Traditional networks are simply designed to be “crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside.”

Today, many organizations — especially ones in regulated industries — segment their networks. In addition, they also reinforce their network security with a mature firewall perimeter equipped with Intrusion Detection Systems (IDS)/Intrusion Prevention Systems (IPS) to monitor traffic.

You can implement network segmentation physically or virtually, but the result is similar: you’re limiting communication throughout your network, thus limiting the attack options — or vectors — available. If the attacker can’t see your other network segments, they can’t attack them.

Hackers Know How to Tear Through Your Networks,

But You Can Stop Them.

What’s the Benefit of a Network Segmentation Strategy?

There are 5 major benefits of implementing a network segmentation strategy:

  1. Improved Security: You can isolate and filter network traffic to prevent outside access to other network segments.
  2. Better Access Control: You can allow users to only access specific network resources.
  3. Improved Network Monitoring: This provides you an opportunity to log events, monitor allowed and denied internal connections, and detect suspicious behavior.
  4. Improved Performance: With fewer hosts per subnet, you can reduce local traffic and enable each user on each subnet to get better network performance. You can also limit broadcast traffic to the local subnet.
  5. Better Containment: Should a network breach occur, you can limit its effect to just the local subnet, it won’t affect your other network groups.

Network Segmentation Security Best Practices

  1. Network Map: You must start with a network map of all of your systems and determine what systems need access to the other. The goal is to ensure that the systems that will need each other are grouped together — i.e., avoid connecting multiple network groups.
  2. Network Experts: You need networking professionals with actual experience designing network architecture involved. If done incorrectly, your segmentation in networking could result in systems that don’t function correctly or systems that are not segmented enough, which defeats the purpose of such a system.
  3. Network Maintenance: In addition to designing your network segmentation, you require a network team to maintain the system and troubleshoot problems, should they occur. As with the design and implementation phase, this requires experienced network experts. In fact, this skill isn’t easily acquired, it takes time and training to build.

The critical ingredient to a successful network segmentation strategy is having an experienced team of network architecture and security professionals lead it. You need a team, so this is not the job of just one or two IT people. If you can’t hire or build this team internally, then your next course of action should be to speak to a managed IT services provider (MSP).

There’s no need for you to lose your business to an attack nor to lose your time and energy trying to stop it — let us handle it for you, just as we had for New York’s other top brands (NYU, McGraw Hill, etc). Get yourself a FREE consultation today.