What is Network Segmentation and Why is it Important?

As a business owner, you rely on your network to keep your operations running smoothly. From managing financial transactions to handling confidential customer information, your network is the backbone of your business.

But with the ever-increasing threat of cyber attacks, it’s more important than ever to ensure that your network is secure. One way to do this is through network segmentation.

What is Network Segmentation?

Network segmentation is a security strategy that helps to protect your business’s sensitive information by dividing your network into smaller, more secure sections. Each section, or segment, has its own rules and controls that help keep the information flowing through it safe.

For example, you might have one segment for your financial information, another for customer information, and another for general business operations. This way, if a security threat occurs in one segment, it’s less likely to affect the other segments, limiting the overall damage.

You can apply network segmentation on the site or in the data center. Separating devices like routers, switches, and bridges will divide your computer network into different parts for better monitoring and control over the flow of data.

Key benefits of network segmentation include:

  • Securing the network against widespread cyberattacks
  • Improving network performance by reducing user count in specific zones
  • Facilitating network management and troubleshooting
  • Enabling compliance with regulations and industry standards

Types of Network Segmentation

So, what network segments should you create for your organization? Consider the various types of users and data you have and who needs access to what. Below are a few examples of the network segments or zones you might want to develop:

  • Users: Users are an integral part of a computer network, and it’s important to have proper access control on them in the active directory. Consider the different roles and responsibilities of your user and assign privilege levels accordingly. For example, those in administrative roles should have higher levels of access than regular employees. Limiting the number of users with full access rights to a small, trusted group is important.
  • Guests: You can set up a guest network to protect your corporate network by not mixing it with the guest network. Even though it may seem simple, it’s common for smaller businesses to overlook this step. Many business routers come with, and setup requires just a few minutes.
  • Physical Security: Companies can create distinct network zones for video surveillance, ID card scanners, etc. With cases of physical security breaches on the rise, this type of segmentation requires serious consideration. Dividing your physical security setup this way makes investigating security breaches easier and reduces the collateral damage to your devices.
  • Customer Databases: When it comes to compliance, customer databases need to be protected with extra care, as they often contain sensitive personal information. Different data regulations, such as PCI-DSS and GDPR, will require different levels of security measures to ensure compliance. Therefore, it’s important to understand the level of segmentation and cybersecurity that you should implement to comply with these regulations.
  • Third-party Vendors: Third-party vendors can facilitate various processes for your organization, but they may become a threat vector if they need access to your data to perform their tasks. To minimize security vulnerabilities when working with third-party vendors, create isolated access portals that give them access only to the necessary data, keeping other sensitive information unexposed to outsiders.

Why Network Segmentation Matters

Network segmentation is crucial for implementing barriers that help protect your sensitive data. The best way to understand its importance is through a hypothetical example.

Let’s assume your business has a network that includes point-of-sale systems, financial information, and customer data. One day, an employee unknowingly clicks on a phishing link in an email, which allows a cybercriminal to gain access to the network.

Without network segmentation, the attacker has easy access to all of the systems and data on the network, including financial information and customer data. They can easily move laterally through the network and steal sensitive information.

But if you had implemented network segmentation, the cybercriminal would find a dead end and attempt to work their way backward to find other access points they can target. With proper security measures on each segment, they will likely get discouraged and consider another target.

So network segmentation helps protect your assets in various settings. You can apply it while running an SDN-powered architecture, wireless local area network (WLAN), etc.

An IT Managed Service Provider (MSP) Simplifies Network Segmentation

How can you leverage network segmentation to better protect data assets without increasing the burden on the IT team? One way is to work with a Utah managed service provider.

An MSP like Great Service can thoroughly assess your existing network to determine the most appropriate segmentation strategy. Based on the evaluation, the MSP can design a segmentation plan that includes creating subnetworks and using security protocols such as VLANs, firewalls, and VPNs.

Additionally, an MSP can monitor your network to ensure it is functioning as expected and make any necessary adjustments to maintain optimal performance and security. Regularly monitoring a segmented network is crucial for identifying potential vulnerabilities and ensuring its security against external and internal threats.

Through continuous monitoring, MSPs can help you comply with regulations and make necessary adjustments to accommodate new users, ensuring ease of use and optimal performance.

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