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Why East-West traffic security is so important
Wed, 22nd Nov 2023

East-West traffic signifies the flow of data packets between servers within a data centre or across private and public clouds. Unlike the typical ingress or egress traffic, which goes in or out of the network (often called North-South traffic), East-West is the lateral movement of data.

Hence, it’s often referred to as lateral traffic, with its own set of challenges and opportunities for security professionals. But why is East-West traffic security important? With the proliferation of data centres and cloud adoption, East-West traffic has grown substantially. 

Interestingly, the volume of this lateral traffic has surpassed the conventional North-South traffic, making its security an imperative.

This shift underscores the importance of shielding East-West traffic from potential malicious actors and breaches, as threats can arise internally, moving laterally without ever touching the traditional network perimeter. Yet, according to a Gigamon global survey of 1,000 IT and security leaders, just under half (48%) had insights into laterally moving data.

So, let’s consider the benefits of East-West security. Understanding and bolstering East-West traffic security comes with a multitude of benefits. For one, it allows organisations to inspect all East-West network traffic, ensuring no malicious activity goes unnoticed. Such measures effectively hinder the lateral movement of threat actors, preventing them from advancing within a network.

Increased network visibility, extending down to the virtual machine, workload and container levels, provides granular control over data flow. Moreover, securing East-West traffic aids in protecting vital business applications and data.

Last, focusing on this aspect can significantly lower costs and risks associated with distributed operations.

So, how does East-West traffic security work? The essence of East-West traffic security lies in continuous vigilance. This involves inspecting the lateral flow of data to pinpoint any potential threats that might compromise the network. Every packet, every byte, and every payload – including encrypted payloads – undergoes deep packet inspection and is subject to rigorous analysis.

By doing so, threats can be detected promptly, with countermeasures swiftly blocking any malicious activity, ensuring that the integrity of the network remains unscathed.

My company has always been at the forefront of network visibility and security solutions. Our approach to East-West traffic security is no different.

Recognising the critical nature of lateral traffic and its vulnerabilities, we offer solutions designed to protect networks. Our proven deep observability solutions and recently introduced PrecryptionTM technology not only deliver heightened visibility into East-West traffic but also an assurance of its veracity.

Traditionally, most organisations focused primarily on North-South traffic. But the shift to cloud infrastructures, coupled with the decentralised nature of modern data centres, has thrust East-West traffic into the spotlight.

This transformation has led to a paradigm shift in how we perceive network security, with East-West traffic now commanding equal, if not more, attention. Despite its importance, monitoring East-West traffic isn’t without its challenges.

Given the sheer volume of lateral data movement, ensuring comprehensive security coverage can be daunting. Identifying malicious patterns amidst a sea of legitimate data packets requires sophisticated tools; strategies include gaining visibility into encrypted traffic that attackers often use to disguise their movement across a network.

Our solutions are designed keeping these challenges in mind. Gigamon’s Deep Observability Pipeline capabilities provide unparalleled visibility into East-West traffic – including between virtual machines and containers – ensuring you never miss a beat.

Moreover, by feeding traffic and metadata generated in real-time to security analytics tools, we empower users to discern between benign and malicious traffic, facilitating proactive threat detection and mitigation.

Let’s consider the future of East-West traffic. As we propel into a future dominated by hybrid cloud infrastructures and decentralised data centres, the importance of visibility into all forms of East-West traffic will only increase.

Ensuring East-West security will be at least as important as ensuring North-South security for businesses aiming to safeguard their data and maintain operational efficiency.

East-West traffic, with its increasing importance in today’s network architectures, is a domain that cannot be overlooked. It is not just about recognising its importance but also about adopting strategies and solutions that can guarantee its security.

My company’s advanced technology stands ready to assist organisations in navigating the intricate landscape of East-West traffic security. We advise organisations to secure their networks’ future by placing East-West traffic security at its heart.