One of the most overlooked topics in IT today is the need for network governance. Micro-segmentation is now a popular security strategy but without network governance, organisations are unaware if the ‘micro’ controls they have worked hard to implement are correct and aligning to their risk posture.
What is Micro-segmentation?
Micro-segmentation is essentially the practice of applying fine-grained security policies to separate individual workloads. This technique is advantageous as it isolates threats and risks to smaller areas of an enterprise network.
Why is Micro-segmentation important?
Apart from network security, one of the benefits of Micro-segmentation is the ability to understand your workloads behavior and relationships with other services. This is fundamental to every organisation, because if they do not know what their IT services are communicating to, how can they effectively manage and protect them?
Another benefit of Micro-segmented networks is the ability to mitigate cyber risks by containing threats. In a flat network, a virus or intruder can move laterally and freely throughout the organisation’s network until they find the critical systems and highly valuable data. A flat network has recently contributed to many incidents where organisations were crippled by a cyber-attack.
Unsegmented networks are severe risk to an organisation, which can be easily fixed by 2 fundamental activities:
- Discovery of IT service relationships
- Implement network controls within each IT service
What is Network Governance?
Network Governance is a clear set of defined compliance policies to ensure an organisation is compliant with internal or external security standards e.g. Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS). They provide guidance on configuration controls to help secure systems and reduce exposure to possible cyber attacks.
Why is Real-time Network Governance important?
A network is only as secure as the weakest link. Out of thousands of network firewall rules across an organisation, how many are actually improving the security posture of an organisation?
We can all agree that a firewall with zero firewall rules is pretty ineffective. However, it could be just as ineffective if it had 20,000 rules but one of them exposes a critical environment to cyber risks.
Organisations are creating Network Governance compliance policies to guide configuration controls. However, these policies are normally followed during initial implementation at a point in time, they are set and forget. How do we timely detect, manage and report the subsequent non-compliant changes to configurations?
Real-time monitoring of network compliance dramatically improves the risk management of an organisation’s network. It helps identify the non-compliant configurations which expose IT services to non-trusted parties and increase the risks to an organisation. In addition, it helps prioritize remediation activities to secure critical IT services.
Any future configuration will be assessed to ensure an acceptable network compliance is maintained.
Do you want to improve your network security?
If you would like to take the first steps to have a fully governed and micro-segmented network, schedule a network discovery and assessment with us to find out which of your IT services are potentially at risk.