Security / November 6, 2023

East-West Traffic: Everything You Need to Know

Introduction: What is East-West Traffic?

East-West traffic signifies the flow of data packets between servers within a data center, 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.

Why is East-West Traffic Security Important?

With the proliferation of data centers 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.

Benefits of East-West Security

Understanding and bolstering East-West traffic security comes with a multitude of benefits. For one, it allows organizations 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. Lastly, focusing on this aspect can significantly lower costs and risks associated with distributed operations. For more depth on enhancing visibility, check our latest piece: Solidify your security posture with visibility into virtual machines and containers.

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.

Protecting Your Network with Gigamon

Gigamon has always been at the forefront of network visibility and security solutions. Our approach to East-West traffic security is no different. Recognizing the critical nature of lateral traffic and its vulnerabilities, Gigamon offers solutions designed to protect your network. With our proven deep observability solutions and recently introduced Gigamon PrecryptionTM technology, not only do you get heightened visibility into your East-West traffic but also an assurance of its veracity.

The Changing Landscape of Data Traffic

Traditionally, most organizations primarily focused on North-South traffic. But the shift to cloud infrastructures, coupled with the decentralized nature of modern data centers, 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.

Overcoming East-West Traffic Challenges with Gigamon

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 and strategies including gaining visibility into encrypted traffic that attackers often use to disguise their movement across a network.

Gigamon solutions are designed keeping these challenges in mind. The Gigamon 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 you to discern between benign and malicious traffic, facilitating proactive threat detection and mitigation.

The Future of East-West Traffic

As we propel into a future dominated by hybrid cloud infrastructures and decentralized data centers, 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 recognizing its importance but also about adopting strategies and solutions that can guarantee its security. Gigamon, with our Deep Observability Pipeline, stands ready to assist organizations in navigating the intricate landscape of East-West traffic security. Secure your network’s future by placing East-West traffic security at its heart.

**Written by Gigamon utilizing AI research.

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