Authentication

Zero Trust and Microsegmentation: An Explainer

June 15, 2022
What Is Zero Trust

Zero trust and microsegmentation are two important security concepts that are often used together to improve an organization’s overall security posture. While they aren’t strictly related, they both work together to protect data at its source. You may hear about zero trust network segmentation, which involves both… or you might read blogs on zero trust vs. microsegmentation, which compares the concepts.

Zero trust is a security model that emphasizes the need to restrict trust by default. When users or devices connect to a network, they are only given access to what they need to be given access to. Meanwhile, microsegmentation is a technique that involves creating small, isolated segments within a network to help control the spread of malware or other threats.

When used together, zero trust and microsegmentation can help an organization better protect its data and systems from unauthorized access or malicious activity.

What Is Zero Trust?

Zero trust is a security model that emphasizes the need to verify every user and device before allowing access to data or systems. Once users are identified, they are given access only to the systems that they need to be. Zero trust both refers to security and the security model (or philosophy) that supports it.

In a zero-trust environment, all users and devices are treated as potential threats, regardless of whether they are inside or outside of the network perimeter.

The goal of zero trust is to make it more difficult for attackers to gain access to sensitive data or systems by reducing the number of points of access that they can exploit. By requiring all users and devices to be authenticated and authorized before they can access data or systems, zero trust can help to prevent unauthorized access or malicious activity.

Microsegmentation zero trust acknowledges that a zero-trust network may require microsegmentation (to ensure that each discrete area of the network has the right permissions). Still, they are not necessarily mutually inclusive or mutually exclusive.

What is Microsegmentation?

Microsegmentation, or micro-segmentation, is a technique that involves creating small, isolated segments within a network to help control the spread of malware or other threats. By segmenting its network into smaller, isolated sections, an organization can make it more difficult for attackers to move laterally within the network and gain access to sensitive data or systems.

Microsegmentation can also help to reduce the impact of a security incident by containing the spread of malware or other threats to a smaller section of the network.

Microsegmentation is often confused with network segmentation. But they are not the same thing. Network segmentation is a technique that involves dividing a network into smaller sections, each of which has its own dedicated resources. Microsegmentation, on the other hand, is a technique that involves dividing a network into smaller sections, each of which has its own security controls.

So, while both microsegmentation and network segmentation involve dividing a network into smaller sections, microsegmentation focuses on security while network segmentation focuses on resources. To confuse the issue further, they can be used together.

What is Microsegmentation

The Benefits of Zero Trust vs. Microsegmentation

So, zero trust can help to prevent unauthorized access by requiring all users and devices to be authenticated and authorized before they can access data or systems. Meanwhile, microsegmentation can help to contain the spread of malware or other threats by segmenting the network into smaller, isolated sections. It’s easy to see why these two security systems work so well together.

Similarly, passwordless authentication makes it easier to maintain microsegmentation without disrupting the user base. All these things can work together within a single highly secured platform so that companies can maintain their security even in the face of ever-growing threats.

Challenges in a Microsegmented System

If not properly configured, microsegmentation can make it more difficult to troubleshoot issues or identify problems. It can complicate the network, which means that the system that is used to achieve microsegmentation should be carefully selected.

In addition, microsegmentation can require more hardware and software resources than a traditional network. As a result, it is important to carefully consider the benefits and trade-offs of microsegmentation before implementing it in an organization.

If resource management is going to be a problem (or large-scale scalability is a concern), there may be some challenges with a completely microsegmented system.

Alternatives to Microsegmentation

One alternative to microsegmentation is the use of software-defined networking (SDN). SDN can provide many of the same benefits as microsegmentation, without the need for additional hardware or software resources.

Another alternative is to use security controls at the application level, such as application whitelisting or application firewalls. These controls can help to prevent unauthorized access to data or systems, without the need for microsegmentation.

But these are imperfect solutions. In particular, using security controls will not work with a zero-trust system. Application whitelisting trusts by default. Application firewalls only protect the perimeter, not the data.

So, while there are alternatives to microsegmentation, it is still the best solution for achieving both zero trust and microsegmentation.

Adopting a Microsegmented System and Zero-Trust System

Despite the challenges, microsegmentation can be a powerful tool for protecting data and systems. To adopt a microsegmented system, an organization should first assess its needs and objectives.

Once the organization understands its needs, it can select the right system and configure it properly. It is also important to train staff on how to use and manage a microsegmented system before the system is implemented so disruption doesn’t occur.

Adopting a zero-trust system is similar. An organization should first assess its needs and objectives and then identify how a zero trust system will be integrated into their existing infrastructure and authentication services.

With an all-in-one zero trust and authentication platform, achieving zero trust and better identity and access management solutions will not be difficult.

Improve Your Security with Axiad

Axiad offers a comprehensive identity access management (IAM) solution. Through better access management and access controls, your organization can protect against and mitigate threats. Within Axiad, is a complete zero trust security suite, and a robust, single passwordless authentication platform.

Contact us today to learn more about how our security solutions can help you to improve your overall security posture. Try out a free 30-day trial to see how Axiad will work for you.

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