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Why Device Microsegmentation is Important for OT and IT

Device microsegmentation, like environment and application microsegmentation, is IoT, OT, and IT best practices 

Businesses are no longer just managing standard IT infrastructure; they’re also dealing with an ever-growing operational technology (OT) environment. As a result, safeguarding both OT and IT devices from security breaches is more critical than ever. One emerging solution is device microsegmentation, a security technique that offers both preventive and responsive benefits.  

Let’s explore why microsegmentation is pivotal for OT and IT device protection.  

Understanding OT and IT Environments  

Before delving into microsegmentation, it’s crucial to distinguish between OT and IT.   

  • OT refers to the hardware and software systems that manage industrial operations, such as manufacturing processes, energy grids, and transportation.  
  • IT refers to traditional data-oriented technologies, including computers, networking equipment, and databases. 
  • In addition, IoT (The Internet of Things) refers to the interconnected nature of devices and systems that communicate with each other over the Internet. 

The Growing Threat Environment 

Both OT and IT environments are attractive targets for cybercriminals. As OT environments from healthcare devices to manufacturing increasingly adopt digital solutions, they become more interconnected with IT systems. This integration can unintentionally create a larger attack surface for attackers, emphasizing the need for specialized protection strategies like microsegmentation.  

“Enterprises today have a great challenge to identify, document, map, and separate applications in a secure and controlled way with high accuracy and integrity. This is especially true in critical industries, such as manufacturing, utilities, healthcare, and financial services.”  

– Sameer Malhotra, CEO/Co-founder, TrueFort. 

What is Device Microsegmentation?  

Microsegmentation is a security technique that divides a network into smaller, isolated segments to limit unauthorized access. It’s like subdividing a large mansion with many rooms into smaller, individually locked chambers. Even if intruders break into one chamber, they can’t easily access the others. Device microsegmentation limits the potential spread of malware or unauthorized access via lateral movement, ensuring that devices can only communicate with specific, predetermined devices, applications, or services – on a granular level.  

Benefits of Microsegmentation for OT and IT Device Protection 

  • Reduced Attack Surface: By dividing the network into microsegments, intruders find it challenging to move laterally across the environment. The threat doesn’t automatically spread to others if one segment is compromised. 
  • Improved Visibility: Microsegmentation allows businesses to monitor traffic better and identify abnormal patterns, enabling quicker response to potential threats. 
  • Regulatory Compliance: For industries with strict regulatory device requirements, microsegmentation can help meet guidelines by ensuring devices are protected and sensitive data are segmented and shielded from potential breaches. 
  • Flexibility and Scalability: As businesses grow, their network complexities increase. Microsegmentation offers a scalable solution to accommodate new devices and systems, whether in the OT or IT environment. 

Implementing Device Microsegmentation in OT and IT Environments 

  • Asset Identification: The first step involves identifying all assets, their communication patterns, and interdependencies. This is especially crucial in OT environments where devices might be older or use proprietary communication protocols. 
  • Policy Creation: Based on the identified assets, create policies that define permitted communications. These policies will dictate how the network will be segmented. 
  • Continuous Monitoring: Once microsegmentation is implemented, continuous monitoring ensures that policies are enforced and any deviations are flagged. 
  • Regular Reviews: Given the dynamic nature of OT and IT environments, regular reviews are essential to adjust microsegmentation policies and accommodate new devices or updated processes. 

Challenges and Considerations  

Implementing microsegmentation isn’t without its challenges: 

  • Complexity: Especially in larger OT environments, understanding and segmenting the intricate web of interconnected devices can be complex. 
  • Maintenance: As businesses add or modify devices, microsegmentation policies need updating, requiring regular attention and maintenance.
  • Legacy Systems: OT environments often contain older devices that might not support modern security protocols. This can pose challenges when trying to integrate them into a segmented network. 

Moving Beyond Traditional Perimeter Security  

Traditional security approaches, like firewalls and intrusion prevention systems, protect the network’s perimeter. But as the OT-IT convergence increases, so does the potential for internal threats. Microsegmentation moves beyond traditional perimeter defenses, safeguarding against threats originating inside the network. It’s akin to not only having a guarded wall around a mansion but also having individual security systems for each room. 

A Proactive Approach to Device Security  

Ultimately, microsegmentation embodies a proactive approach to cybersecurity. Instead of merely reacting to threats, businesses can preemptively limit potential damage by ensuring threats remain contained within individual segments. 

The integration of OT and IT environments represents both a monumental opportunity and a significant challenge for businesses. As these environments become increasingly interconnected, a comprehensive security strategy is imperative. Microsegmentation, with its ability to isolate and protect individual network segments, emerges as an essential tool in the cybersecurity arsenal. As cyber threats evolve, businesses must be equipped with the best defense mechanisms, and microsegmentation is undeniably a significant step in that direction. 

“Together, Armis and TrueFort can fully discover and map IT and OT environments to enforce intelligent policies that prevent unauthorized lateral movement.”  

– Sameer Malhotra, CEO/Co-founder, TrueFort. 

Using both agent-based and agentless technology, we make it so that organizations can quickly identify all assets on the network, from applications to devices and service accounts, in under a day. Analyze workload behavior and establish a baseline for standard operations, ensuring users know exactly what to block, disable, or terminate, and implement enforcement either by account and action or direct it to host firewalls using TrueFort or existing EDR agents.

If you’d like to know more about IT/OT device microsegmentation and how we’ve worked in partnership with Armis to bring an outstanding and unique solution to market and solve all the problems above, please drop us a line, and we’ll be happy to give you a no-obligation demonstration of Armis and TrueFort – working together. 

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