Data breaches continue to plague IT security specialists throughout the industry. With the number of network attacks on the rise, compliance regulations are increasing in their stringency, forcing organizations to place a stern focus on the safety of their data. Small business and enterprise level companies alike are placed under meticulous audits to ensure the safety of consumer information.  Falling victim to a failed inspection can result in severe consequences to existing business functions along with the future of an organization due to negative brand association as well.

Network security teams are constantly monitoring and reconfiguring current security practices to not only remain a step ahead of an attack on their network infrastructure, but to also comply with the regulatory demands of their respective industries. As part of their concerted effort to secure sensitive information, many companies have adopted micro-segmentation as a primary component of their defense against malicious intrusions. Serving as a critical resource of monitoring the applications, processing, and data traffic within an organization, micro-segmentation has become not only an invaluable tool to protect confidential data, but also a requirement for HIPAA, PCI DSS, and other regulatory standards.

Micro-segmentation & PCI DSS regulations

With the increasing demand of online banking and spending, PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard) compliance has become one of the most prevalent regulations in the industry.  According to the PCI Security Standards Council requirements, in order to be considered out of scope with regards to PCI DSS, a given component of a system must be properly isolated from the CDE (cardholder data environment). This isolation must occur in such a way that even if the out of scope component was breached or compromised, it could NOT compromise the integrity or security of the CDE.

Micro-segmentation provides a clear scope reduction when compared to longstanding security measures such as VLANs, firewalls, and network access control lists. The latter resources served as primary tools towards network protection, but have their limitations when applied to more recent configurations that have implemented cloud or hybrid cloud solutions. With the fluid dynamic operations of CDE occurring in real-time situations, the need for an adaptive and process-level control security solution provided by micro-segmentation has become a proven method of data protection.

Because this practice permits security teams to have a granular overview of all application, process, and data traffic of an infrastructure, monitoring the changes and updates of CDE greatly simplifies this task.  This also demonstrates to regulation committees that an organization has a sound comprehension of its data traffic while having the ability to quickly detect threats and enact countermeasures to limit negative repercussions.

Intrusion impact reduction

An integral component of micro-segmentation implementation is the complete analysis and recording of the computing resources and operating processes within a system.  This is performed in order to create a baseline of standard business operations within their network architecture. After the day-to-day functions have been mapped and a performance foundation has been established, security policies can be applied through a segmented approach throughout the entire infrastructure. By having a detailed view of the entire system, IT security teams can modify and adapt their levels of protection over time to configure the solution based on their needs without affecting operations and performance levels. This level of defense is ideal for HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) and PHI (Protected Health Information) compliance for the same reason as PCI DSS operations by isolating an attack to an out of the scope area. Micro-segmentation solutions prohibit lateral or east-west movement of a breach which, if left undetected or unchecked, can allow an intruder to probe the infected system and gain higher levels of security access exploiting CDE or PHI data. When combined with strict perimeter protection, micro-segmentation applies rapid breach detection and prompt quarantine polices for PCI DSS and HIPPA regulation conformance.

Security policy recording & reporting

With an advanced and robust micro-segmentation solution protecting the sensitive consumer data of a business, a company is provided with detailed visibility of all data traffic flow within their infrastructure.  Employing both Layer 4 and Layer 7 policy controls affords IT security personnel with intricate monitoring and configuration abilities, all of which is comprehensively documented.  With these policies readily available for review, this data provides evidence to an auditor of the verified out of scope areas within the architecture to show the distinct separation of PHI and CDE information.

Micro-segmentation enables compliance and robust security

Network attacks have become an everyday threat to organizations across the globe. All of the security prerequisites, policies, and resources needed to gain data regulatory compliance are in a state of continuous change and advancement. It only serves the best interests of IT security teams to utilize a micro-segmentation solution that is fully customizable to accommodate their business needs while complying with their respective regulation agencies. Employing a resource that provides these granular levels of protection gives network professionals a head start towards preventing the next data breach.