Have you looked at your network in a while? To work well, your IT deserves some thought. A key part is thinking about how your IT environment is divided up. This is called network segmentation,
What is Network Segmentation?
Network segmentation is the practice of splitting your overall network into smaller, separate ones.
- Network segmentation: the practice of splitting your overall network into smaller, separate ones
- How you segment depends on who needs access to what
- Network segmentation prevents cyber attacks from spreading to every device
- You can improve your IT performance by creating traffic priorities
- The first step to network segmentation is "peeling the onion"
What are Benefits of Network Segmentation?
In other words, why segment a network? It may seem like an unnecessary step, but network segmentation improves security and performance. It also supports your compliance requirements. Let's dive into it.
The way you segment your network is entirely your choice. There's no right or wrong way to do it. This gives your business a lot of flexibility.
You can carry out segmentation through:
- Layer 3 Switches
How you actually segment depends on who needs access to what. Here are a few examples:
- Departments (operations vs. HR)
- Line of business applications (Office 365 vs. QuickBooks)
- Devices (desktops vs. tablets)
- Locations (satellite offices vs. headquarters)
- Levels (administrator vs. staff)
Segmenting your network protects you from internal and external threats. It prevents cyber attacks from spreading to all devices. Take these examples:
Business 1 has no network segmentationAll its computers are on the same network. An employee accidentally clicks a malware link which infects their computer.
Because there's no segmentation, that malware can spread throughout the entire network. It can reach financial data, client information — everything!
Business 2 has segmented its network into VLANS 1 and 2. A computer on VLAN 2 is hacked. Because the networks are segmented, the virus can't easily spread to VLAN 1.
This saves Business 2 from exposing even more data to attackers. It helps Business 2 isolate and fix the problem quicker.
Imagine a 500-person company using one network. Connection interferences are bound to happen which slows everything down. This is called noise or chatter. Network segmentation keeps the noise down. It minimizes business disruptions in a few ways:
- Permits one segment to be worked on without affecting another
- Reduces or eliminates the risk of a single point of failure in your system
- Allows you to create traffic priorities
Traffic priorities can be extremely useful. They allow you to set which type of traffic is most important to get through. When your network is busy, this type of traffic will come through first.
By gating, or controlling, which traffic comes through an individual segment, you can keep networks running quickly. You can prioritize based on your business needs, for example amount of traffic (bandwidth) or time periods (9 a.m. - 5 p.m.).
For audits like SOC, PCI and SEC, network segmentation helps in several ways.
- You can implement controls at multiple layers
- You can monitor, log and retain historical information of different segments
- You can segment based on security requirements, applying the principle of least privilege
- You can generate segmented data for proof/evidence
How to Get Started
You've got to peel the onion. Take a look, layer by layer, at your IT environment. Determine who needs access to what, and what your main goal is.
- Are you a high-security business like a law firm or medical practice?
- Do you need fast and consistent network performance?
- Are there compliance regulations you need to account for?
- Do your guests or clients use WiFi at your business?
The answers to these types of questions will provide the structure you need for network segmentation. If you need help getting started, we'll guide the way.
Let us put you on the right path. iVenture Solutions is an award-winning managed service provider delivering superior IT solutions to clients across Florida. As a leading-edge IT firm for small and medium-sized businesses, we provide a diverse range of services covering the entire scope of IT including maintenance, support, hosting and more. Through rapid response time, reduction of chaos and the right people, our expert team of IT professionals will fulfill your technology needs. At iVenture, we give you more time to do what matters most.