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Incident Response Plan

Network Segmentation Best Practices

What is network segmentation, and why should it matter to your business? Many times, when IT professionals hear the word segmentation, they think of a divided network. What some do not know is that network segmentation secures multi-cloud deployments, the many IoT devices we have, and bring your own device (BYOD) policies that are common in today’s workplace.

While digital transformation has been a priority for years now, the pandemic has truly pushed it to the forefront for most businesses today. Rapid adoption of digital innovation has allowed businesses to continue to thrive amidst the chaos of COVID-19.

As a result, digital transformation is disrupting organizations by adding new networks like dynamic multi-cloud environments that are required to help advancement efforts. However, with any new digital innovation comes security risks. As we have discussed in recent blog posts, DDoS attacks and other threats are growing in numbers and intelligence.

As applications stretch into these new environments, traditional network strategies are becoming useless. Today, IT teams are tasked with maintaining things like network performance, security, reliability, and redundancy all while on a budget.

With so many moving parts, we wanted to take this time and break down the importance of network segmentation and provide a list of best practices for your organization.

What is Network Segmentation?

According to Cisco, network segmentation divides a computer network into smaller parts. The purpose is to improve network performance and security. Other terms that often mean the same thing are network segregation, network partitioning, and network isolation.

Network segmentation also allows administrators to control the flow of traffic based on policies. Cisco shares the following segmentation example of a large bank with multiple locations. If the bank’s security policy restricts branch employees from accessing its financial reporting system, then network segmentation can help to enforce this policy. It does so by preventing branch traffic from reaching the financial system.

As a result, the overall traffic is reduced, and the financial reporting system preforms better for the analysts that must use it every day. In addition to better performance, the restricted access to this business-critical system improves overall security.

Benefits of Network Segmentation

There are a couple of core benefits that enterprises have experienced with segmentation. Those benefits include:

  • Improved Security and Reduced Cyber Threats: Segmentation limits how far an attack can spread. For example, according to Cisco, segmentation can keep a malware outbreak contained to one section rather than affecting systems in another.
  • Protected BYOD and IoT devices: Segmentation can stop attackers from reaching devices that are unable to protect themselves from an attack.
  • Improved Performance: With reduced or restricted access, network speeds and reliability improve for users.
  • Reduced Compliance Costs: Segmentation helps to reduce the costs that come with certain compliance certifications by limiting traffic to systems. For example, network segmentation separates systems that process and store payment information from others that do not. That way, compliance costs are only needed for certain systems rather than the entire network.

Now that you have a high-level overview of what network segmentation is, we will cover some best practices to make your strategy efficient.

Network Segmentation Best Practices

Network segmentation projects are continuing to pop up on many organizations’ radars. Unfortunately, they can be massive undertakings. Thankfully, IT partners like LightEdge can help.

Everything we do is built around our unrivaled network. Therefore, all of our customers have the opportunity to take advantage of our always up and always fast network. For those organizations who do not have an IT partner like LightEdge, it is on your team to tackle network segmentation.

To help you experience the benefits of network segmentation, here are a few network segmentation best practices to get you started:

#1 Protect Your Endpoints

Cyber criminals access the network through network endpoints. The other way they gain entry is after compromising an endpoint and stealing credentials for network segments. It is a best practice to start the network segmentation process at the endpoint.

The connection of laptops, tablets, mobile phones, and other wireless devices to corporate networks creates attack paths for security threats. It is your job to secure these endpoints.

#2 Do Not Over or Undersegment

According to Gartner’s Best Practices in Network Segmentation for Security Report, in 2017, more than 70 percent of segmentation projects will have their initial design rearchitected because of oversegmentation.

Through 2018, the greatest delay for segmentation projects will be due to remedying the overreliance on less trusted segmentation mechanisms in the plan. In fact, the most common mistake Gartner sees being made in response to fixing a flat or sallow network is to oversegment or create too many zones.

Most successful segmentation plans have few zones, with clear operational and data sensitivity separation. On the other hand, having too few zones, or having a flat network is the most common cause for network segmentation projects according to Gartner reports.

With more advanced technology and threats, the segmentation and isolation designs must also be more advanced. Gartner often sees flat networks continue where segmentation was considered but abandoned, because the task was seen as too time-consuming or expensive.

The moral of Goldilocks and the Three Bears is a perfect comparison for any network segmentation project. Not too much, not too little, but just right for your company.

#3 Isolate Access Portals for Third Party Vendors

No matter the size of your business, you probably partner with different vendors to operate efficiently. Everything from HVAC repairs and vendors for software licenses to marketing agencies. While not every third-party vendor needs access to your organization’s network, some may need entry to render services.

When that happens, creating isolated portals helps to lock them down as much as possible and only provide access to the items they need to function for your organization. This helps to reduce the risk of a potential security breach.

#4 Conduct Regular Network Audits

To properly protect and isolate your systems, you must conduct regular network audits. This step is necessary for any in depth security and defense strategy. If this practice is skipped or missed, you run the risk of missing endpoint vulnerabilities. Ultimately creating security gaps that a hacker could exploit.

Conducting frequent network audits to identify any new resources that have been added to the network is one of the most effective network security best practices for reducing security threats in your organization. It is incredibly important to carry them out frequently.

#5 Prioritize Performance AND Security

When implementing a network segmentation strategy, you should not have to compromise performance for protection and vice versa.

Security solutions struggle to meet the performance requirements of today’s internal network traffic. Internal segmentation can undermine the digital innovation that your organization relies on to operate.

However, security does not have to slow down the network. High-speed hardware platforms will also need to be designed to easily integrate into any environment while maintaining consistent security, visibility, and policy enforcement between platforms.

Use security services designed for the performance requirements you desire and ensure resource architectures do not expose your organization to unnecessary risks. Regulated industries should perform additional due diligence when vetting security devices.

Take Advantage of LightEdge’s Unrivaled Network

When asked about our differentiators, the first answer is always – our network. LightEdge designs all of our purpose-built facilities and services around connectivity first. That means unparalleled scale, redundancy, speed, and uptime for your business and the clients you serve.

We spent over two decades perfecting our network and infrastructure to be the most scalable, redundant, and secure in the US. Today, LightEdge has narrowed our focus to supporting the most highly regulated organizations with our Tier III data centers and compliant cloud offerings. Although, one thing has stayed constant – everything we do is built around our unrivaled network.

We understand your top priorities when it comes to connectivity:

  1. Your applications are always up.
  2. Your applications are always fast for end users.

Have confidence that LightEdge has built every inch of our network to deliver you just that.

DDoS attacks are continuing to grow in frequency and complexity. As the leader in connectivity, LightEdge takes a proactive stance to deliver the top network safeguards every organization should have. Our internet is inherently built to handle mission-critical, compliant workloads. On top of that includes security. We offer two tiers of DDoS Protection to upgrade your LightEdge Internet experience and protect against the rest.

With DDoS Protection, it’s recommended to have these safeguarding measures in place prior to an attack ever taking place so that we’re able to mitigate the situation right away. Interested in staying ahead of DDoS threats? Let’s Get You Setup.

We do understand that it may be too late in some instances and you may already be in emergency, reactive mode. If your company is currently under attack, LightEdge can step in to assist and work with you to figure out a solution. If you’re concerned or experiencing issues, contact us here immediately at 1.877.771.3343!

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