What Is Network Segmentation?
You can divide each segment by applying different quality of services (QoS) settings on specific apps, devices or users based on their security level or priority.
There are many ways of how to implement this in businesses depending on their industry, size and needs. It all depends on whether the company has an office connected to the cloud over a WAN link, which requires just one connection. In most cases, it is a combination of several networks connected over the Internet.
Network segmentation is considered one of the best practices in Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL), which has been around since the late 1990s and has been adopted by many IT professionals due to its simple approach to aligning IT with business goals.
What Are the Benefits of Network Segmentation?
Network segmentation provides several benefits to the users on the same network. They include security, user management, bandwidth control and fault tolerance. It can also help save money by preventing unnecessary traffic among segments, especially in cases where they aren’t compatible with each other (for example when sending print jobs back and forth is required).
You can then decide which data should be prioritized based on its type or content because this will allow you to determine how much bandwidth it needs compared to others like emails passing through your business’s email server.
The main benefits include:
Allow safe communication between various segments when needed.
- Prevent communication when it’s not allowed, for example when transmitting sensitive data from employees who work from home.
- Improved network performance thanks to faster speeds on specific devices or segments when required by lowering latency for data transfers between them thanks to improved QoS settings.
- Enforced security by allowing or blocking access to specific computers, devices or even data from inside and outside the network. This would make it more secure from hackers who try to break into a company’s private network. In fact, some might ask if there is any benefit of having a WAN connection at all since segmentation provides that level of protection as well as an advantage over cloud services that have shared physical infrastructure with different users.
What Is a Segment?
A “Segment” is a part of your local area network (LAN) which has similar requirements in terms of access speed, security levels or other criteria you set for each segment. It can be either logical or physical segmentation. For example, in most cases it is a router or an IP (Internet Protocol) subnet with the same configuration settings like IP addresses, network mask (also known as CIDR), QoS, security protocols and port filtering.
What Is VLAN?
VLAN stands for Virtual LAN and represents logical segmentation of your network instead of physical one. It is often used in larger companies where you would not be able to buy several routers to create separate segments based on their type because this could require additional hardware that costs money. Instead, you can just configure existing switches into multiple VLANs which will act exactly the same way by creating separate networks that are invisible to users unless they know how to connect to them. This makes VLAN perfect for microsegmentation.
What Is an IP Segment?
IP segment is a logical designation of the network protocol known as IP (Internet Protocol). It can be either public or private which means that users from outside your company won’t be able to access it unless they know how to connect to your network, based on its settings. To establish this connection, they would need the IP address of the device you’re using inside your business together with other connectivity information like subnet mask, port number and routing method used by your router. In most cases only routers use this functionality because switches don’t have any intelligence built-in when they manage data flow between devices connected to them.
How Do I Configure Network Segmentation?
You need to start by buying a router and several switches if you don’t have them already. You should decide which devices will be part of your network, what type of data they transmit and whether it is sensitive or not.
For example, workstations may require high speed so you would create a separate subnet with separate VLAN for them whereas printers are less demanding so their subnet can coexist on the same LAN but in different VLAN since they’d otherwise need all their bandwidth just to function properly. This means that even if there are no firewalls used to block certain segments from communicating with each other, this kind of design ensures that company’s mission-critical data is always safe thanks to its segregation.
When designing segments, you should keep in mind that all connected devices should have the same level of access. This means that every user would need to authenticate themselves before being able to use network resources no matter which segment they are actually using. Even if this doesn’t ensure higher security it will certainly prevent misuse by other people or even yourself who might be curious about files located on someone else’s computer inside the company network.
This is also important for IT staff because they can quickly detect problems with configurations when users report malfunctioning peripherals. If reporting them straight to the respective department doesn’t solve the problem, it may indicate misconfiguration so changing VLANs or subnets could help find out settings are wrong and where to look for them.
As for IP segments, you should assign IP ranges that are valid only on the same network to avoid collisions with IP addresses used by computers or other devices outside your company’s network which they shouldn’t be communicating with in the first place.
However, this may not always prevent such types of problems because there could also be issues related to routers and they would need to handle routing which is their job in the Internet Protocol suite. If you’re having trouble connecting remotely to a device in your local area network when it has a static public IP address assigned, chances are very high that something is wrong with its network configuration and changing VLAN or subnet will help determine what exactly goes wrong here.
Disadvantages of network segmentation:
Network segmentation is not as simple as it sounds and besides some routers, most of them will require some sort of configuration or maybe even reprogramming before they can function normally.
For this reason, you should only allow personnel with knowledge of proper router setup to work on their configurations because a small mistake could render them useless which would mean that you’ll have to purchase new ones.
If your business relies on these devices for communication between computers and other equipment, downtime caused by malfunctioning network hardware may be extremely harmful for its productivity so think about who should be able to set up routers inside the company very carefully.
In addition, there are some security issues related to microsegmentation so you need to know all possible risks before creating more VLANs or subnets. Finally, network segmentation is not easy to undo so if you do it wrong, you’ll be stuck with this configuration for many years.
This type of design should only be considered by companies who truly need microsegmentation because it’s not as simple as just creating more VLANs or subnets. If your company grows then you should plan its future properly otherwise making changes later will take a lot of time and effort which might not be worth the result. For this reason, proper research is necessary before deciding on one method over another because there are no universal truths when it comes to networks even though they may seem very similar at first sight.