As malware and hacking techniques continue to evolve, it’s essential to have strong security protocols in place to protect your business from unauthorized access and data theft. Surprisingly, most data breaches can be prevented by implementing the long-established security practice of network segmentation.
What is network segmentation?
Network segmentation involves dividing a network into subnetworks and monitoring and regulating access to each one. This lets you control how traffic flows among the different segments. For instance, you can stop all traffic in one segment from reaching another, or you can manage the flow of traffic according to type, source, destination, or other options.
With network segmentation, you can limit access to certain data based on the function or role of a particular application, server, or person. By properly partitioning your network, you are making it harder for cybercriminals to locate and access your critical business data.
Traditional segmentation methods include implementing firewalls and routing, which are cumbersome and costly to set up and maintain. Thankfully, the availability of software-defined access technology simplifies segmentation by automating the process of setting network access for any user, device, or application in a matter of minutes.
How can you fortify your defenses with network segmentation?
Here are three ways to make use of this networking best practice and ultimately prevent data breaches.
Restrict third parties or other users from accessing parts of your network that are beyond their concerns, and make sure only authorized users who have a legitimate reason to access sensitive information get to do so.
Setting unique access controls around different segments is also essential. This way, if a hacker gains access to one of your subnetworks through a third party, they will need extra time to break out of that network segment and infiltrate another.
KEEP CRITICAL INFORMATION RESTRICTED TO FEWER SPOTS
It may seem counterintuitive to limit the number of locations where critical information is stored, especially at a time when data redundancy is done deliberately for backup and recovery purposes. But it makes sense to ensure that your data can’t be easily obtained by cybercriminals.
Make sure that valuable information is kept in as few places as possible. For instance, if you store financial records on a segment with highly restricted access but it somehow gets copied to a less walled-off segment accessible by a third party, then the data could be compromised and put your business at risk.
While sharing data is often necessary to perform certain responsibilities, make sure that you do so with adequate access controls in place.
PLAN AND STAY AHEAD
Network segmentation requires expertise and thorough planning to determine where data will be stored and who’s allowed access. It is also a continuous commitment — as your network changes, you must make adjustments to segments and access rules to maintain their effectiveness. It’s best to enlist expert help to make sure you adhere to network segmentation best practices.
Although proper network segmentation can help you contain breaches and prevent the propagation of threats to other parts of your network, it’s not a guarantee that it can thwart all cyberattacks. This strategy is best implemented with other security measures such as anti-malware or an intrusion detection system.