The Top 7 Benefits of Micro-Segmentation for the Federal Government
This year has seen a sharp increase in cyberattacks and security breaches that have compromised sensitive data in nearly every sector, including federal government agencies, and contractors who work with the government. With each new breach, especially the recent massive cyber attack on SolarWinds, it becomes increasingly clear that bad actors are capable of not only accessing standalone critical assets, but also traversing undetected across networks and workloads to expand their footholds.
Like many organizations that are still dependent on legacy IT systems and outdated cybersecurity solutions, government agencies and government contractors need to adopt modern models and tools, such as zero trust architecture and micro-segmentation, to ensure standards compliance and to develop cyber resilience to these ongoing breaches.
Micro-segmentation is the first step to implementing a zero trust security model in which nobody is to be implicitly trusted and everybody must be continuously verified to access assets or resources. Micro-segmentation is the security practice that divides networks into isolated segments so that traffic can be more easily monitored and controlled.
When it comes to defending against advanced cyberthreats at a granular level, micro-segmentation brings the advantage of definition through abstractions and not by IP addresses or VLAN memberships alone. This granularity bolsters security and simplicity as environment separations adapt to dynamic application environments.
Top 7 Benefits of Micro-Segmentation
1. Defense Against Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs)
Cyberthreats come in a variety of forms, many of which aren’t readily detectable. These can debilitate government agencies that store sensitive information, making them prime targets for data exfiltration.
APTs occur when a bad actor enters a network or deploys malware to an environment. These attacks often play out over a long period of time. During the initial phase, the threat actor gains entry to the network. Then, at their leisure, they perform a stealthy reconnaissance moving laterally within the network undetected.
It is possible to reduce this “dwell time” in the network by preventing the malware’s migration beyond the initial attack surface to other adjacent networks or resources. Micro-segmentation goes a step further by escalating security, which in turn makes resources inaccessible to the threat. By stopping any command-and-control communication, data exfiltration is prevented, resulting in on-time containment and expedited remediation.
2. Seamless Compliance
Even with system and protection protocols in place, ensuring compliance can be challenging. This is another area where micro-segmentation can help. It simplifies complying with regulations and best practices, whether FISMA, HIPAA, or region-specific requirements like General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
Micro-segmentation’s ability to define the scope of and prevent lateral movement helps organizations meet an array of compliance standards. For example, in achieving HIPAA compliance, it provides protection of ePHI data, risk analysis, and management, as well as the ability to limit the scope of an audit.
3. Easy Environment Separation
Data breaches can arise due to unwanted or unmonitored movement of production data into a development environment. But historically, environment separation to limit access to sensitive data has been time-consuming and challenging, often requiring several stakeholders in distributed and hybrid data center environments.
A micro-segmentation solution enables easy environment separation for modern data centers. Instead of using IP addresses and VLAN memberships, it segments the network by tagging resources hosting workloads or applications. This makes environment separation adapt to dynamic application environments, providing unparalleled operational ease and security.
Micro-segmentation offers the advantages of reusable server role, environment and application tags, reusable security policy templates, platform-agnostic separation, automatic audit trail for every action, and a zero trust network with full visibility and control.
4. Security Made Simple
A top-notch micro-segmentation product, such as ColorTokens Xshield, makes it possible to create reusable security policy templates that dictate user access to applications and databases, as well as communication between workloads across different environments. This can provide significant time savings. Instead of spending hours doing tedious manual configuration work, information technology employees can apply templates for uniform security and compliance on every environment created or modified.
5. Visibility in Hybrid Environments
The right micro-segmentation solutions can be compared to having a single window that provides in-depth views into every resource and cross-segment traffic in data centers — removing the need for multiple visualization and monitoring tools. Bare-metal servers and hybrid-cloud environments need constant assessment, which can sometimes mean significant remediation time. Centralized visibility into every segment of the data center reduces this time and helps maintain a positive security posture.
6. Cloud Workload Protection
According to IDG’s 2020 IDG Cloud Computing research, 92% of organizations say their IT environment (infrastructure, applications, data analytics, etc.) is in the cloud. Micro-segmentation works by reducing the attack surface and providing much-needed granular visibility into workload connections. It also protects workloads and applications distributed across multi-cloud data centers. The solution further enables real-time visibility into any suspicious activity, ensuring that security professionals are able to catch suspicious activity in time and act on it.
The other advantages of cloud workload protection include ease of use with deployment across a multi-vendor cloud infrastructure, such as GovCloud, without additional operational complexity, and automated security policies that move with the resources across clouds. Learn why ColorTokens was named a Representative Vendor in the 2020 Gartner Market Guide for Cloud Workload Protection Platforms.
7. Secure Application Access
Digital transformation has far-reaching impacts, presenting new challenges to security teams trying to control remote access of networks and applications. One of largest security needs is gaining full visibility across vast networks, such as those including the federal government and their various agencies and contractors.
With micro-segmentation, it is possible to secure access to applications — enabling a process of relevant access to relevant functions or resources based on trust dimensions. The ability to provide visibility across all remote access points is especially critical for governments, which typically have agencies and contractors spread across multiple geographies.
A level two micro-segmentation approach enables security teams to create flexible policy controls that adapt to the users’ location, identity, and role. This empowers agencies to control micro-segmented application access from in-office users, remote users, and even contractors.
Adoption to Implementation: Getting Zero Trust and Micro-Segmentation Right
As with most systems, processes, or solutions employed by government agencies, defining the right policies and ensuring their implementation is critical. This is especially true when it comes to something as crucial as national security. See how a top-tier micro-segmentation solution can help governments mitigate risk, prove protection, and fill security gaps. Get started with a free demo of ColorTokens’ award-winning Xshield micro-segmentation product today.
About Nakul Goenka
Nakul has been working at the intersection of law, business, and technology for the last ten years, and has gained a unique perspective on how technology is created, commercialized and consumed by enterprises. He has completed graduate level degrees in law and business from the University of Pennsylvania Law School and the Wharton School of Business. He was awarded the ‘Top 50 Tech Visionaries Award’ for his contribution at InterCon 2019. Nakul is also registered as a Foreign Legal Consultant in the State of Texas and holds a license to practice law in India.