Organizations must grapple with challenges from various market forces. Digital transformation, cloud adoption, hybrid work environments and geopolitical and economic challenges all have a part to play. These forces have especially manifested in more significant security threats to expanding IT attack surfaces.

Breach containment is essential, and zero trust security principles can be applied to curtail attacks across IT environments, minimizing business disruption proactively. Microsegmentation has emerged as a viable solution through its continuous visualization of workload and device communications and policy creation to define what communications are permitted. In effect, microsegmentation restricts lateral movement, isolates breaches and thwarts attacks.

Given the spotlight on breaches and their impact across industries and geographies, how can segmentation address the changing security landscape and client challenges? IBM and its partners can help in this space.

Breach landscape and impact of ransomware

Historically, security solutions have focused on the data center, but new attack targets have emerged with enterprises moving to the cloud and introducing technologies like containerization and serverless computing. Not only are breaches occurring and attack surfaces expanding, but also it has become easier for breaches to spread. Traditional prevention and detection tools provided surface-level visibility into traffic flow that connected applications, systems and devices communicating across the network.  However, they were not intended to contain and stop the spread of breaches.

Ransomware is particularly challenging, as it presents a significant threat to cyber resilience and financial stability. A successful attack can take a company’s network down for days or longer and lead to the loss of valuable data to nefarious actors. The Cost of a Data Breach 2022 report, conducted by the Ponemon Institute and sponsored by IBM Security, cites $4.54 million as the average ransomware attack cost, not including the ransom itself.

In addition, a recent IDC study highlights that ransomware attacks are evolving in sophistication and value. Sensitive data is being exfiltrated at a higher rate as attackers go after the most valuable targets for their time and money. Ultimately, the cost of a ransomware attack can be significant, leading to reputational damage, loss of productivity and regulatory compliance implications.

Organizations want visibility, control and consistency

With a focus on breach containment and prevention, hybrid cloud infrastructure and application security, security teams are expressing their concerns. Three objectives have emerged as vital for them.

First, organizations want visibility. Gaining visibility empowers teams to understand their applications and data flows regardless of the underlying network and compute architecture.

Second, organizations want consistency. Fragmented and inconsistent segmentation approaches create complexity, risk and cost. Consistent policy creation and strategy help align teams across heterogeneous environments and facilitate the move to the cloud with minimal re-writing of security policy.

Finally, organizations want control. Solutions that help teams target and protect their most critical assets deliver the greatest return. Organizations want to control communications through selectively enforced policies that can expand and improve as their security posture matures towards zero trust security.

Microsegmentation restricts lateral movement to mitigate threats

Microsegmentation (or simply segmentation) combines practices, enforced policies and software that provide user access where required and deny access everywhere else. Segmentation contains the spread of breaches across the hybrid attack surface by continually visualizing how workloads and devices communicate. In this way, it creates granular policies that only allow necessary communication and isolate breaches by proactively restricting lateral movement during an attack.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) highlights microsegmentation as one of three key technologies needed to build a zero trust architecture, a framework for an evolving set of cybersecurity paradigms that move defense from static, network-based perimeters to users, assets and resources.

Suppose existing detection solutions fail and security teams lack granular segmentation. In that case, malicious software can enter their environment, move laterally, reach high-value applications and exfiltrate critical data, leading to catastrophic outcomes.

Ultimately, segmentation helps clients respond by applying zero trust principles like ‘assume a breach,’ helping them prepare in the wake of the inevitable.

IBM launches segmentation security services

In response to growing interest in segmentation solutions, IBM has expanded its security services portfolio with IBM Security Application Visibility and Segmentation Services (AVS). AVS is an end-to-end solution combining software with IBM consulting and managed services to meet organizations’ segmentation needs. Regardless of where applications, data and users reside across the enterprise, AVS is designed to give clients visibility into their application network and the ability to contain ransomware and protect their high-value assets.

AVS will walk you through a guided experience to align your stakeholders on strategy and objectives, define the schema to visualize desired workloads and devices and build the segmentation policies to govern network communications and ring-fence critical applications from unauthorized access. Once the segmentation policies are defined and solutions deployed, clients can consume steady-state services for ongoing management of their environment’s workloads and applications. This includes health and maintenance, policy and configuration management, service governance and vendor management.

IBM has partnered with Illumio, an industry leader in zero trust segmentation, to deliver this solution.  Illumio’s software platform provides attack surface visibility, enabling you to see all communication and traffic between workloads and devices across the entire hybrid attack surface. In addition, it allows security teams to set automated, granular and flexible segmentation policies that control communications between workloads and devices, only allowing what is necessary to traverse the network. Ultimately, this helps organizations to quickly isolate compromised systems and high-value assets, stopping the spread of an active attack.

With AVS, clients can harden compute nodes across their data center, cloud and edge environments and protect their critical enterprise assets.

Start your segmentation journey

IBM Security Services can help you plan and execute a segmentation strategy to meet your objectives. To learn more, register for the on-demand webinar now.

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