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What Is Network Segmentation?


Rob Behnke

September 22nd, 2022

Network segmentation is the process of splitting a network into smaller, independently functional subnetworks. The primary objective of network segmentation is to increase network security by isolating distinct network components. This makes it more difficult for attackers to move laterally through the network and obtain access to sensitive data.

Moreover, network segmentation can enhance performance by creating subnetworks dedicated to distinct types of traffic. For instance, you may construct a separate subnetwork for video streaming traffic to prevent it from competing for bandwidth. In this article, we’ll examine segmentation and how it can improve network security and performance for business enterprises.

How does network segmentation work?  

A network is segmented by separating it into various subnetworks. Typically, segments are created with firewalls or virtual private networks (VPNs). Once the network has been partitioned, further security measures such as access control lists (ACLs) or software-defined networking (SDN) policies can further isolate each piece from the others.

Virtual local area networks (VLANs) are one of the most common methods for segmenting a network. VLANs enable the creation of virtual subnetworks within a physical network. For instance, you could set up a unique VLAN for each department in your organization so that each department’s traffic remains separated from the other.

VPNs are another prevalent method for segmenting a network. VPNs enable the creation of secure, encrypted tunnels between network segments. VPNs are frequently used to link remote users to an organization’s internal network so they may access sensitive data without putting the network at risk.

Benefits of network segmentation

  • Security: There are numerous reasons why network segmentation could be crucial. The most prevalent reason is security. By isolating distinct sections of your network from one another, you make it much more difficult for attackers to move through your network laterally and access valuable assets. An attacker compromising a server on one side of the network does not necessarily impact other segments and target more servers. Attempts to move between segments require passing through a firewall, increasing the probability of detection.
  • Performance: Besides increased security, enhanced performance is a common rationale for segmenting a network. This is because segmenting traffic can help minimize congestion and improve response times. For example, if video streaming traffic on a network is high, creating a dedicated subnetwork is recommended so that it does not compete for bandwidth with other forms of traffic. This is achieved via congestion control, which improves response times and guarantees that critical applications always have access to the necessary resources.
  • Greater control: Network segmentation creates greater control over who has access to which portions of the network. This is advantageous from both a security and efficiency perspective. Confidential data that only specific employees should be able to access can be restricted through network segmentation. 
  • Reduced Costs: The ability to cut costs is a further advantage of network segmentation. When a network is smaller, there are fewer devices that require management and maintenance. In addition, if one portion of your network fails, the others will remain operational, minimizing downtime and allowing you to prevent costly disruptions.

Potential downsides of network segmentation

While network segmentation can be an effective method for enhancing cybersecurity, there are potential drawbacks to consider. One of the most significant disadvantages is that it can add complexity and overhead costs, especially if the network is large and dynamic. 

Segmentation can also make troubleshooting more complicated, as each segment may need to be investigated separately. 

Lastly, segmentation may not be entirely effective in blocking assaults since determined attackers may still find a way to access target systems.

Before deploying network segmentation as part of a cybersecurity plan, it is crucial to thoroughly assess the advantages and downsides. Halborn can assist you in evaluating your requirements and implementing an effective segmentation strategy. In addition, we can conduct frequent security audits to ensure the integrity of your network. For more information on our cybersecurity services, reach out to us at halborn@protonmail.com.