Application Micro-Segmentation in Zero Trust Playbook

December 16, 20234 min read

Playbook Objectives:

  • To demonstrate the effectiveness of application micro-segmentation in implementing a robust Zero Trust security model.
  • To test the company’s cybersecurity defenses against a targeted and sophisticated attack scenario, where an insider threat or an advanced persistent threat (APT) group tries to move laterally within the network.
  • To validate the proper implementation of micro-segmentation policies and ensure that security controls are effective in isolating applications and preventing unauthorized access.
  • To optimize incident response procedures and develop actionable response strategies for real-world attack mitigation.
  • To enhance security team skills in identifying, containing, and neutralizing threats within a segmented network architecture.

Difficulty Level:

  • Advanced: This exercise is intended for security teams with a strong understanding of network segmentation, Zero Trust architectures, and advanced threat tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs).


  • A financial services company, FinSecure Inc., with a large customer base and substantial assets under management, is about to undergo a Cyber Range exercise to enhance its security posture.
  • FinSecure Inc. has recently transitioned to a cloud-based infrastructure and implemented a Zero Trust model to strengthen its cybersecurity defenses.
  • The company’s network consists of various critical systems, including transaction processing, customer data storage, and internal communication platforms.
  • The security team is made up of seasoned professionals, led by CISO Ava Robertson, and includes security analysts, network architects, and incident responders.
  • In light of recent attacks on similar institutions, the FinSecure board of directors has mandated a comprehensive security review to avert any potential breaches that could undermine the company’s reputation and financial stability.


  • Cybersecurity / Zero Trust Security / Network Segmentation

Exercise Attack Steps:

  1. The attack scenario begins with a phishing email sent to a group of FinSecure employees, one of whom is a system administrator named John Marshall.
  2. The phishing email is designed to trick John into downloading a malware-laden document that, when opened, executes a payload to establish a backdoor on his workstation.
  3. Upon establishing the backdoor, the attackers leverage John’s elevated access to try to explore the network and move laterally in search of valuable data.
  4. The exercise monitors the simulation of the attacker’s actions using unauthorized credential use and potential exploitation of network vulnerabilities.
  5. Throughout the exercise, automated security tools and the security team will be on the lookout for signs of the unauthorized lateral movement facilitated by application micro-segmentation policies.
  6. The team will be tasked with quickly identifying the breach, isolating the compromised system, and containing the threat within the IT environment as regulated by the Zero Trust principles.
  7. The exercise further includes steps to analyze logs, detect anomalies, and adapt the network’s segmentation policies to mitigate the impact of similar future incidents.
  8. The team proceeds to eradicate the threat, restore any affected systems, and then goes through a post-mortem analysis to improve policies and response tactics.
  9. Finally, the exercise concludes with a review of the end-to-end response, from detection to recovery, bolstering the organization’s security playbook for real-world applications of Zero Trust architecture and micro-segmentation.
Through this Cyber Range exercise, FinSecure aims to not only fine-tune its security measures but also to ensure that all departments within the company are aware of the critical role they play in maintaining the organization’s overall cyber resilience. The comprehensive review and hands-on practice will allow the FinSecure team to confidently respond to actual threats while maintaining the integrity and reliability of their financial services in an increasingly hostile digital landscape.