Contributor(s): Laura Fitzgibbons

Microsegmentation, also known as security segmentation, is a process used by network security professionals to break a network into smaller pieces in order to make it easier to keep the overall system secure. This method can be applied to cloud systems or data centers and allows security professionals to individually secure parts of the overall system.

Networking professionals can best implement microsegmentation to systems with a virtual component. Examples could include a VLAN or LAN segments, set up to connect via a virtual router. Once the network is set up, IT professionals can break the whole system into parts, called segments, and configure how they communicate through different channels. Segments can be controlled to specify details such as whether certain applications can share data within a system, which direction the data may be shared or whether user authentication and other security measures are required. 

Objects that can be defined as segments within microsegmentation include:

  • Workloads - A workload is a specific projected amount of capability for an instance (each time a specific program or application runs, it is considered an instance).
  • Applications -  Applications are software programs that run on a computer, in a cloud or on a virtual machine
  • VMs - Virtual machines are computers that contain all of the basic components to run but do not have physical hardware, instead they exist within the framework of another existing computer.
  • OS - A computer's operating system is its fundamental software on which all other software is able to run.

Benefits of microsegmentation

Once the individual parts of a system's infrastructure are secured, it is much easier to maintain the overall health and security of the system because each segment can be maintained on a smaller scale. Problem areas or overloaded workflows can be isolated and addressed. It is also harder for a virus or malicious file to infect an entire network when each part of the network is outfitted with checkpoints and secure boundaries. Effectively, even if an attacker is able to compromise one part of a network, they will not be able to use the compromised access to reach any other part. 

This was last updated in March 2019

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