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Maximizing the Benefits of Microsegmentation: Insights from the NIST 800-207 Zero Trust Architecture

Charlie Treadwell
November 8 2022

Welcome to our guide to understanding the NIST Special Publication 800-207, Zero Trust Architecture with a focus on microsegmentation. In this guide, we will explore how the recommendations in the NIST publication can help organizations effectively implement microsegmentation, a key component of a zero trust security model.

Microsegmentation involves dividing a network into extremely small segments, often at the level of individual devices or applications, and implementing strict access controls to prevent the spread of an attack if one segment is compromised. While traditional methods such as access control lists (ACLs), virtual LANs (VLANs), and firewall rules can be useful in implementing microsegmentation, the NIST publication recommends a software-defined approach, such as software defined perimeter (SDP) and identity-based microsegmentation, as a more flexible and secure option.

In this guide, we will discuss the benefits of a software-defined approach to microsegmentation, including increased flexibility, greater granularity, enhanced security, and improved compliance. We will also provide recommendations for implementing a software-defined approach based on the guidance in the NIST publication. By following these recommendations, organizations can better protect themselves against security threats and improve their overall security posture.

Why Traditional Methods Alone May Not be Enough for Microsegmentation

Microsegmentation is a key component of a zero trust security model, which is a framework for securing networked systems by assuming that all network traffic is untrusted until proven otherwise. Microsegmentation involves dividing a network into extremely small segments, often at the level of individual devices or applications, and implementing strict access controls to prevent the spread of an attack if one segment is compromised.

While traditional methods such as access control lists (ACLs), virtual LANs (VLANs), and firewall rules can be useful in implementing microsegmentation, they are not always sufficient on their own. Here are some reasons why a software-defined approach, such as software defined perimeter (SDP) and identity-based microsegmentation, may be a better choice:

  1. Increased flexibility: A software-defined approach allows you to create and manage microsegmentation rules more easily and flexibly. This is particularly useful in dynamic environments where the network and security needs may change frequently.
  2. Greater granularity: SDP and identity-based microsegmentation allow you to create microsegmentation rules based on the specific identity of a user or device, rather than just their IP address or port number. This provides a higher level of granularity in terms of access controls, making it easier to protect critical assets within the network.
  3. Enhanced security: SDP and identity-based microsegmentation can provide an extra layer of security by requiring users to authenticate themselves before gaining access to specific resources. This helps to prevent unauthorized access and protect against attacks such as malware or ransomware.
  4. Improved compliance: A software-defined approach can make it easier to meet compliance requirements by providing a centralized way to manage and track access to resources.

The Advantages of a Software-Defined Approach to Microsegmentation

In summary, while traditional methods such as ACLs, VLANs, and firewall rules can be useful in implementing microsegmentation, a software-defined approach such as SDP and identity-based microsegmentation may provide greater flexibility, granularity, security, and compliance. By adopting a software-defined approach to microsegmentation, organizations can better protect themselves against security threats and improve their overall security posture.

The Benefits and Challenges of Implementing Microsegmentation: A Comprehensive Guide

If you want to learn more about microsegmentation and how it can help improve the security of your network, be sure to read this blog post, What is microsegmentation and how does it work?. We cover all the key concepts and technologies involved in microsegmentation, as well as the benefits and challenges of implementing it. By understanding microsegmentation, you can better protect your organization against cyber threats and improve your overall security posture.