Adaptive Segmentationmicro-segmentation November 21, 2022

7 Reasons Why the Federal Sector Should Choose Illumio for Micro-Segmentation

Christer Swartz, Principal Technical Marketing Engineer

The Federal sector is a tempting target for hackers of all types, from nation-state sponsored espionage to opportunistic bad actors.

Classified environments, critical infrastructures, and DoD networks require an especially strong cybersecurity solution that includes both prevention and breach containment in order to protect against even the most sophisticated threats.

Cyberattackers will always penetrate the outer network defenses and have free rein inside of the network – coupled with a known vulnerability or human error by a network administrator, and attackers can further bring down the mission.

When that happens, there is nothing preventing the lateral movement of the cyberattack, especially between workloads. There needs to be a solution that quickly isolates an infected workload and prevents the cyberattack or malware from spreading laterally throughout the network.

Illumio Zero Trust Segmentation, also called micro-segmentation, completes a Zero Trust security architecture by preventing malware and cyberattacks from spreading. In fact, if you don’t have host-based micro-segmentation, you have an incomplete Zero Trust architecture.

Here are 7 ways that Illumio provides superior, reliable micro-segmentation for branches of the Federal sector.

1. Stop adversary lateral movement

The Federal sector has stringent security requirements, and prevention is critical. But even the most robust cybersecurity solution will eventually experience a breach of some kind.

Illumio will contain that breach without requiring complex, time-consuming analytics to understand the intentions of that breach. Illumio will prevent an infected workload from propagating any malware payload laterally, closing open ports which malware uses to traverse from one workload to the next.

2. Enables Zero Trust in both the DoD ZTRA v.2.0 and the Federal ZTRA in OMB M-22-09

The DoD Zero Trust Reference Architecture, released in September of 2022, specifically calls out micro-segmentation as a required security architecture for Federal sector digital environments. It distinguishes this from macrosegmentation solutions, such as those used in network fabrics.

This guideline equates Zero Trust with micro-segmentation, and Illumio provides the toolsets to meet this requirement.

3. Secures classified environments

The Federal sector is required to place heavy security around classified environments, with a clear separation of the IT side of the architecture from the classified core network architecture.

Illumio enables visibility and enforcement of all traffic via directly managing workload security or via exchanging security context with network devices such as switches and load balancers.

Illumio prevents threats from traversing IT resources, protecting and isolating the classified core from security breaches. We do this through host-based micro-segmentation.

4. Workload-centric traffic visibility

Visibility into workload traffic and dependencies needs to be enabled directly from the perspective of the workloads instead of having to access this information from firewalls or security appliances.

Illumio enables visibility into all traffic between managed and unmanaged workloads, without needing to touch the network. This allows the deployment of workloads onto any network fabric and the migration of workloads across different network fabrics, without being dependent on any of those fabrics for comprehensive visibility into all workload-to-workload visibility.

In addition, IP addresses are mapped to the labels, so there is no need for an IP table which is in itself an attack vector.

Illumio also offers the creation of policy directly from this visibility, eliminating the need to use one set of tools for visibility and then needing to define policy on a different set of tools. This means workload policy gets created directly at the workload.

5. East-west micro-segmentation without complexity

Controlling east-west traffic between workloads should not require complicated operations in order to block or prevent propagation.

The Federal sector has a lot of cybersecurity tools to choose from, and complexity is a common denominator across many of them.

Illumio enables straight-forward east-west micro-segmentation. Lateral propagation is controlled without dependency on network security appliances, instead enforcing traffic directly at every workload. This greatly simplifies enforcing lateral propagation at any scale.

6. Integration with ZTNA security solutions

Zero Trust pushes trust boundaries as close as possible to the resources being accessed: the workloads themselves. ZTNA – Zero Trust Network Access – pushes the trust boundary in the opposite direction, as close as possible to the source of traffic: the endpoint.

ZTNA tools will authenticate incoming sessions and then will build a network topology. This grants visibility only to those workloads which that endpoint’s credentials grant them.

Illumio can integrate with ZTNA solutions, allowing them to exchange context with Illumio and ensure that Illumio enables access to the relevant session.

Illumio also enables protection of workloads in the event that the ZTNA boundary is breached. If malware somehow breaches the ZTNA boundary, Illumio will isolate the first hijacked workload from all other workloads. This prevents any lateral movement throughout the network which malware is designed to attempt.

7. Metadata-driven policy

Network security has traditionally used a workload’s IP address as its identity when defining policy. But modern workloads can change their IP addresses dynamically – such as VM’s live-migrating across Layer-3 boundaries or container workloads spinning down and then spinning back up with a different IP address.

Workload-to-IP associations are ephemeral in modern compute resources, therefore policy needs to rely on metadata to identify workloads.

Illumio will assign multi-dimensional metadata, also called labels, to all workloads and will keep track of the IP’s which are associated with those workloads across their life cycles. This enables Illumio to define human-readable policy, using these labels, to define rules, enabling east-west security to more closely match the way users perceive the resources being accessed.

Illumio avoids the legacy challenge of defining rules specific to IP addresses.

Discover more about micro-segmentation with Illumio:

  • See how Illumio helped a global law firm stop the spread of ransomware.
  • Learn why Forrester named Illumio a Leader in Zero Trust and micro-segmentation.
  • Read this guide on how Illumio makes micro-segmentation fast, simple, and scalable.
  • Contact us to find out how Illumio can help strengthen your defenses against cybersecurity threats.
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