Enabling Zero Trust Security Through Network Virtualization And Micro-Segmentation

By Kayla Coco-Stotts Posted November 12, 2019

For IT admins, dealing with hackers and phishing attacks is no longer a rare occurrence — it’s now a reality facing every modern organization. Zero trust security ensures that the right users are accessing the right systems, applications, and networks. With the help of micro-segmentation and network virtualization (i.e. VLANs), companies can strengthen their protocols and contain the breadth of a security breach if it occurs.

Why Enable Zero Trust Security?

Zero trust security, or zero trust network architecture, goes against the view of conventional, perimeter-based security architecture by requiring strict verification for every user and device on a particular network for every access attempt.

Enabling zero trust security through network virtualization and micro-segmentation improves data protection and offers greater control over the sprawling labyrinth that is network authentication and authorization. This method of securing networks has helped ease organizations’ worries over the constant threat of hacking by replacing legacy security options with a model that caters to today’s threat-types. 

Network Virtualization 

Network virtualization (NV) is a key strategic move for any organization wishing to implement zero trust security. NV detaches network resources traditionally delivered in hardware or software format, allowing admins to contain the scope of damage if a hacker infiltrates a network.

NV combines multiple physical networks into one software-based network, or divides one large physical network into separate, independent virtual networks. It decouples network services from hardware, allowing virtual monitoring and maintenance of an entire network, regardless of location. This ensures that physical routers are accessible by admins via a centralized management system, enabling automation for many administrative tasks.

An example of network virtualization can be found in a virtual LAN (VLAN), which is a subsection of a LAN created with software that combines network devices into a single group, improving speed of busy networks.

Why Use Network Virtualization?  

NV allows IT admins to see what is actually present on a network, enabling them to create a more secure, adaptable network. NV decreases user error and time needed for network authorization and implementation by increasing admin productivity and efficiency.

It enables easier control over networks and devices, allowing for micro-segmentation of potential insecure systems from other assets, narrowing the scope of damage in the case of a breach.

For example, Zurich Airport, in central Switzerland, used NV to unify the expanse of unique operations under one massive, grouped network. Zurich Airport was able to use campuswide VLANs to segment air-control and tower communications from business administrators, video surveillance, and hosted events (like conferences and exhibitions). This was accomplished in conjunction with providing their IT department with a singular interface for authorizing user access and observing network activity. 

Micro-segmentation

As stated above, network virtualization makes micro-segmentation possible. Micro-segmentation assigns fine-grained security policies to data center applications for example, thereby securing the data hidden deep within a network through policies.

It uses a virtualized, software-only approach to integrate security directly into a virtual workload without requiring legacy, on-prem firewalls. These security policies can be synchronized with networks and systems, and are assigned down the level or a network interface, giving IT admins flexibility in how they implement certain protocols.

Why Use Micro-Segmentation? 

Like NV, micro-segmentation allows IT admins the freedom of agility when finding where specific data is organized and which users are authorized to access it. Micro-segmentation improves network security controls and data protection by separating data into groups, allowing admins greater visibility and control over the information contained within a network

Micro-segmentation also enables network security controls, allowing professionals to work with network data faster and more efficiently. It grants organizations the chance to adapt to changing security needs, providing them with the opportunity to immediately increase security protocols or privileges on a network. So, if alerted to potential harmful activity, IT admins are immediately able to secure the organized groups of data efficiently.

Nowadays, data centers utilize micro-segmentation to provide enhanced security for effective, scalable operations. Data centers operate by dividing the hub into small, protected zones, ensuring that the data is not only secured as a whole, but each segmented group has its own tier of security. This makes it virtually impossible for hackers to penetrate defenses quickly, if at all.  

Learn More

The zero trust security model is vital for IT admins to combat modern hackers with modern solutions. If you’re interested in learning how to leverage zero trust security for your organization, check out our blog post on the zero trust security mode, or see cloud-based zero trust security in action by registering for a personalized demo

Sources:

https://jumpcloud.com/resources/zero-trust-security/

https://www.vmware.com/topics/glossary/content/network-virtualization

https://www.cisco.com/c/en/us/solutions/collateral/data-center-virtualization/application-centric-infrastructure/white-paper-c11-732943.html

https://www.cisco.com/c/en/us/solutions/collateral/enterprise-networks/network-virtualization-solutions/net_customer_profile0900aecd804a17ea.html

https://www.sdxcentral.com/networking/virtualization/definitions/how-does-micro-segmentation-help-security-explanation/

Kayla Coco-Stotts

Kayla is a content writer at JumpCloud with a B.A. in Print Journalism from the University of Kentucky. She hails from St. Louis, Missouri, and loves to eat good food and hike Boulder's beautiful trails when she is not writing.

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