In the ever-evolving landscape of cybersecurity, the year 2024 presents unprecedented challenges and opportunities. As organizations continue to embrace digital transformation, the need for robust security measures has never been more critical. New and emerging threats posed by Generative AI, Unsecured API integrations, agile cloud environments, and easy access to sophisticated nefarious code creation are driving the increase in the frequency, volume, and success rate for cybercriminals. According to the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), Cyber Crime in the UK increased by 37% in 2023 compared to 2022, with Ransomware attacks increasing by 70% in the same period. Last year alone, cybercrime cost UK businesses an estimated £21 billion.
However, among the various strategies available to cyber security teams, microsegmentation has emerged as a critical component in fortifying network defenses. This article explores why microsegmentation is so important in 2024, focusing on how microsegmentation addresses key cybersecurity concerns.
Rising Sophistication of Cyber Threats:
As technology advances, so do the capabilities of cyber threats. In 2024, malicious actors have become more sophisticated than ever, employing advanced techniques to exploit vulnerabilities and infiltrate networks. The rise in API usage and dynamic cloud services have seen the biggest rise in attacks, while email still remains the favored attack vector, with over 90% of malware and ransomware attacks originating from the mail. Microsegmentation provides a vital layer of defense by dividing the network into smaller, isolated segments. This limits the lateral movement of attackers, making it significantly harder for them to traverse the network undetected. In effect, minimizing the blast radius of an attack and reduces the impact of an attack. In most cases where microsegmentation has been deployed, businesses can continue to operate, ensuring that revenue and reputation are protected.
Protection of Sensitive Data:
Data breaches remain a pervasive threat, with organizations handling vast amounts of sensitive information. According to the 2023 report by IBM and Ponemon, the average cost of a data breach was $4.45 million. Microsegmentation allows for the creation of secure zones within the network, ensuring that even if a breach occurs, the damage is contained. By compartmentalizing data and applications, organizations can minimize the impact of a potential breach, protecting their most valuable data and assets.
Compliance and Regulatory Requirements:
As governments and regulatory bodies enact stricter data protection laws, compliance has become a top priority for organizations across industries. Microsegmentation aids in meeting these regulatory requirements by providing a granular level of control over data access. This not only helps organizations avoid hefty fines but also builds trust with customers who are increasingly concerned about the privacy and security of their information. In their 2023 Strategi Roadmap for Zero Trust Security Program Implementation, GartnerTM specifically calls out microsegmentation as a key component in a compliant security architecture as it provides “more granular and dynamic policies for controlling east-west traffic within a microsegmentation segment.”
Adaptability to Hybrid and Multi-Cloud Environments:
The shift towards hybrid and multi-cloud environments is a defining trend in 2024. While these architectures offer flexibility and scalability, they also introduce new security challenges. Microsegmentation addresses these challenges by extending its protective barriers to cloud environments. This ensures consistent security policies across on-premises and cloud-based infrastructure, creating a cohesive defense strategy. Working with a single solution to segment across all your cloud environments simplifies the approach and reduces management overhead when compared to relying on native cloud services.
Securing Internet of Things (IoT) Devices:
The proliferation of IoT devices continues to expand the attack surface for cyber threats. Industrial IoT systems are prevalent, with the number of IoT devices expected to exceed 41 billion by 2025. However, with a lack of design standards and limited security, IoT devices make for an ideal target for would-be hackers. It is, therefore, imperative to secure these devices as they often control key parts of the production process or provide key data in decision-making. Microsegmentation provides a means to isolate IoT devices from the core network, preventing unauthorized access and potential exploitation of vulnerabilities in these devices.
Zero Trust Security Model:
The Zero Trust security model, which assumes that no entity—whether inside or outside the network—should be trusted by default, has developed from a marketing term to the go-to approach for security for most organizations. Microsegmentation aligns seamlessly with the principles of Zero Trust by enforcing strict access controls and verification protocols. Every user, device, or application is treated as untrusted until proven otherwise, reducing the risk of unauthorized access and lateral movement.
Dynamic Workforce and Remote Connectivity:
The post-Covid workforce is increasingly dynamic, with fully remote and hybrid work becoming the norm. Microsegmentation accommodates this shift by providing secure access controls based on user roles and responsibilities. Whether employees work from the office, home, or a coffee shop, microsegmentation ensures that network access is tailored to individual needs, reducing the risk of unauthorized access.
Reduction of Attack Surface:
Traditional network security measures often focus on perimeter defense, leaving internal networks more vulnerable. Microsegmentation flips this paradigm by securing the inside of the network. By minimizing the attack surface within each segment, organizations can significantly reduce the chances of successful cyber-attacks.
It is also worth noting that “traditional” segmentation, for example using firewalls, does reduce the attack service, but microsegmentation takes this to the next level. With the ability to create multiple segments from a single management interface provides cybersecurity teams the ability to make the attack surface as small as possible and in the event of a breach, dramatically limit the potential impact.
Enhanced Incident Response and Forensics:
In the unfortunate event of a security incident, rapid response and effective forensics are crucial. Microsegmentation facilitates incident response by containing the impact within isolated segments. This containment not only limits the damage but also provides security teams with a controlled environment for detailed forensic analysis, aiding in the identification of the attack vector and the development of countermeasures.
In conclusion, microsegmentation is a must in the cybersecurity strategy of any organization in 2024. Its ability to adapt to the evolving threat landscape, secure sensitive data, comply with regulations, and seamlessly integrate with modern IT architectures makes it a cornerstone of cyber resilience. As technology continues to advance, organizations that prioritize microsegmentation will not only fortify their defenses but also stay ahead of the curve in the ongoing battle against cyber threats.
Author: Brett Ayres, VP of Product, Teneo