As the cost of a data breach continues to skyrocket, averaging $4.45M in 2023 , you might be looking for ways to secure your most sensitive data.
Network segmentation offers an extra layer of security for your business, that can isolate a data breach, and help you spot any anomalies from insider threats.
Network segmentation involves dividing a computer network into smaller segments in order to improve security and reduce your attack surface.
Rather than one overall network working off its own rules, the smaller segments operate completely independently, with their own access controls and security policies in place. They could be divided based on the departments they cater for, or the sensitivity of data being transmitted.
You can segment networks by a range of different methods, depending on what your needs are as a business:
If you have critical systems that need to be isolated, physical segmentation could help you protect them. You can use different devices, such as routers, to do this.
Rather than physically separating networks, logical segmentation relies on access controls and network policies instead. Using VLANs (Virtual Local Area Networks) to achieve this, logical segmentation can be easier to manage than physical.
This focuses on the perimeter of the company network, separating the internal from the external. Traditionally, anything external was not trusted while anything internal was, but this is no longer the case. Even if you implement perimeter-based segmentation, you should also focus on your access controls internally to ensure sensitive data is protected as much as possible.
Grouping users based on their roles within the organisation, you can approve or deny access to various network resources that are necessary/unnecessary for their job function. If someone from the Marketing department tried to access sensitive HR data, for instance, this could be denied and flagged.
With many different apps to manage, you may opt to place them in their own segments, to prevent any interference between apps, and secure any sensitive data held within.
Implementing network segmentation allows you to take a proactive approach against data breaches, putting you in control and minimising the risk of financial and reputational losses that could occur as a result.
Sheree Buller Lim, Head of Product at Metomic, says:
“Perhaps the biggest benefit of network segmentation is that it enhances your data security posture. With the network segmented, any potential threats can be contained within one network, preventing them from spreading to other parts of the network. This makes a hacker’s job a lot more difficult as their lateral movement is prohibited, and they are unable to keep harnessing data from different sources.”
Isolating networks also means that if you were to suffer a data breach, you could quickly react to the incident, knowing that your other networks wouldn’t be affected. With your attack surface reduced, the risk of sensitive data being exposed is minimised, as only authorised users will be able to access it.
If your business needs to comply with regulations such as PCI DSS, you might also be required to have network segmentation, or other security measures in place. By restricting access to sensitive data, you can ensure that you’re doing everything you can to keep sensitive data safe. For instance, if credit card information is isolated, a data breach in one network won’t necessarily reach your customers’ financial data.
As well as the benefit to your overall security, network segmentation can improve performance by reducing unnecessary traffic across your network.
Businesses who operate a guest Wi-Fi network for their visitors have network segmentation in place. The guest network will work entirely separate from the internal network, limiting access for visitors and isolating the company’s internal resources.
This can prevent unauthorised access to sensitive data on the company network.
There are a few steps you can take to implement network segmentation:
We focus on detecting and protecting sensitive data, without getting in the way of your employees doing their jobs.
To see how it works, try out our free Google Drive Risk Report and see where sensitive data is hiding in your company Drive.