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What Is MicroSegmentation?

Micro segmentation is a security measure that establishes protected zones within cloud and data center environments. It isolates application workloads from each other and applies individual security controls. Through micro-segmentation, firewall policies restrict east-west traffic between workloads based on a zero-trust security model. This approach aims to minimize attack surfaces, prevent the lateral spread of threats, contain breaches, and bolster regulatory compliance. Network Microsegmentation is alternatively known as application segmentation or east-west segmentation within multicloud data centers.

What Is MicroSegmentation

How does micro-segmentation work?

Micro-segmentation is applicable in both on-premises data centers and cloud environments, enabling the isolation of network workloads and facilitating the creation of security policies by security teams. These policies govern the type of traffic permitted in and out of each micro-segment.

These policies are instrumental in managing and establishing secure network segments, dictating access to these segments or zones. They determine how applications and workloads access necessary resources, share data within systems, and the direction of such interactions. Additionally, micro-segmentation empowers security teams to define necessary security or authentication measures for the environment.


There are three primary micro-segmentation approaches, each functioning differently depending on the adopted method:

Agent-based/Host-based Micro-segmentation

This approach employs a software agent installed on workloads, enabling granular isolation and control without relying on static network-level rules based on network ports or IP addresses. Although versatile across data center and cloud infrastructure, not all workloads may support agent installation, and there’s a risk of exploitation by attackers.

Network-based Micro-segmentation

Utilizing the network infrastructure, this method enforces security policies through Access Control Lists (ACLs) or IP constructs without requiring workload agents. However, it lacks granularity and flexibility, potentially causing performance issues in dynamic environments like the cloud, and may struggle to differentiate between legitimate software and malware.

Hypervisor-based Micro-segmentation

This approach utilizes virtualized environments and hypervisors to establish overlay networks and enforce micro-segmentation without necessitating network hardware changes. Although easy to manage and understand, it doesn’t support bare metal servers, container workloads, or public cloud environments, and lacks host-level visibility into software and vulnerabilities.

What are the primary challenges with implementing microsegmentation?

Microsegmentation is the meticulous application of firewall policy controls, utilizing the host workload firewall to enforce security measures across diverse workload types including virtual machines, bare metal servers, and containers. Managing the lifecycle of policies represents the most demanding aspect of implementing effective micro-segmentation, requiring adaptation to accommodate alterations in applications and business requirements. This process typically initiates at a broader scale and progressively refines through policy automation, leveraging insights from application and workload context as well as behavior.

What can micro-segmentation do that a firewall cannot?

Micro-segmentation is executed through detailed firewall policies at the level of application workloads. By offering granular east-west policy control, it establishes a scalable method for establishing secure perimeter zones around each workload, ensuring consistency across various workload types and environments. This approach amplifies and broadens the oversight and management capabilities beyond traditional network or zone-based firewalls.

Benefits of micro segmentation

Minimize Your Exposure to Attacks

As organizations transition to virtualized on-premises data centers and integrate cloud environments, traditional network perimeters dissolve, resulting in an expanded attack surface. Workloads, automation processes, and API-based vulnerabilities introduce new avenues for potential attacks. Micro-segmentation employs an allow-list model to significantly reduce this attack surface across various workload types and environments.

Protect Vital Applications

Micro-segmentation enhances threat visibility and enforcement for critical workloads and applications across different platforms and environments. This limits the lateral movement of security incidents from one compromised virtual machine, service, or container to another.

Ensure Regulatory Compliance

Zero Trust Micro Segmentation offers improved security and ensures compliance with regulatory requirements for applications. Granular visibility and control over sensitive workloads demonstrate proper security measures and data separation, simplifying audit processes and documenting compliance efforts.

Examples of micro-segmentatio

A typical instance of micro segmentation involves segregating development and testing environments from production environments. By meticulously restricting connections between these areas, it mitigates the risk of inadvertent or harmful actions, such as utilizing live data for testing purposes.

Further examples encompass:

  • Application micro-segmentation: Limiting access to sensitive data within applications to deter unauthorized use or malicious data extraction.
  • User micro-segmentation: Utilizing user identity services to regulate access to applications and services.
  • Tier-level micro-management: Partitioning application components to permit access solely to authorized users for specific components, thereby preventing unauthorized access.


Micro-segmentation is a crucial security measure in modern data center and cloud environments. By isolating application workloads and implementing granular firewall policies, it effectively minimizes attack surfaces and enhances regulatory compliance. Despite implementation challenges, its benefits in strengthening threat visibility and control are significant. As organizations face evolving cyber threats, micro-segmentation remains an essential tool for ensuring robust data protection strategies.


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