Network Security

Network security refers to an organization’s strategy, technologies, devices, procedures, and other provisions for ensuring the security of information assets and all network traffic.

It encompasses all physical and software measures that a business puts in place to protect networks from unauthorized access, misuse, destruction, and modification by insiders (employees, contractors, vendors) and outsiders (cybercriminals, hacktivists, other intruders).

Network security features rules and configurations that companies design and implement to protect the integrity, confidentiality, and accessibility of computer networks and data.

Key Takeaways

  • Network security encompasses technologies and process that protect network components and traffic from unauthorized access and modification
  • A typical business has a complex network architecture with disparate devices, data, applications, users, and locations
  • The network architecture faces a dynamic threat environment
  • Company networks are prone to passive and active attacks
  • Network security controls include physical, technological, and administrative controls

Importance of Network Security

Businesses design and implement complex network architectures. These setups face a dynamic threat environment and attackers that are always exploring and exploiting vulnerabilities.

Lack of adequate network security solutions can result in cyberattacks that cause system downtimes, widespread disruption, and extensive damage to an organization’s bottom line and reputation.

Every organization requires a reasonable degree of network security solutions to protect corporate networks and systems from frequent and sophisticated cyber threats. Understanding the different network security components enables an organization to create a secure environment for computers, applications, and users.

Network Attacks  

Networks are subject to numerous attacks from different sources. Network attacks include:

  • Passive attacks: an intruder intercepts network traffic without getting noticed. Examples of passive attack vectors include port scanning, idle scanning, wiretapping, and traffic analysis.
  • Active attacks: cybercriminal initiates actions that disrupt the network’s normal operations. In active attacks, an intruder conducts reconnaissance and lateral movements to gain unauthorized access to network assets. Some prevalent active attacks include viruses, eavesdropping, data modification, denial of service attack, DNS spoofing, man-in-the-middle, smurf attack, and SQL injection.

Network Security Fundamentals   

The fundamentals of network security include:

  1. Physical Network Security: organizations implement physical controls to prevent unauthorized personnel from gaining physical access to network components such as routers, access points, server rooms, and cabling cabinets. Physical network security feature controls such as locks, alarms, CCTV, and biometric authentication.
  2. Technical Network Security: technical controls protect data at rest and in transit in a network. They feature measures that prevent unauthorized access and malicious activities from insiders.
  3. Administrative Network Security: Administrative controls consists of security policies and processes that control user behavior while interacting with the network. Administrative security encompasses measures such as user authentication, access control, and network change and configuration management.

Popular Network Security Solutions 

Many security tools and applications address network threats to maintain the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of information and systems.

Some of the different ways you can secure your network include:

  • Network Access Control: you can design and implement a comprehensive network access control policy for both users and devices to prevent attackers from infiltrating the network. Network access controls limits access to specific confidential files and controls devices joining the network
  • Antimalware and Antivirus: you can install Antivirus and antimalware programs to detect and block malicious software such as viruses, worms, trojans, and ransomware. Antivirus scans the network to track dangerous files and traffic
  • Firewall: a firewall program acts as a barrier between an untrusted public internet and a trusted internal network. Firewall solutions allow you to configure rules that block or permit specific traffic in and out of the network.
  • Virtual Private Networks (VPNs): a VPN tool creates a secure connection from an endpoint or remote site to a company network. Employees working from home can connect and share information with the company network using a VPN that encrypts data to prevent unauthorized access
  • Behavioral Analytics: a business should know what standard network behavior looks like. This visibility and intelligence make it easy to spot anomalies and breaches as they happen
  • Intrusion Detection and Prevention System (IDS/IPS): and IDS and IPS scan network traffic to detect and block malicious activities in real-time. The security solutions correlate network activity signatures with attack techniques databases
  • Security Information and Event Management (SIEM): SIEM products pull together network traffic and any information that you need to identify and respond to threats. There are different SIEM forms, including physical devices, virtual appliances, and software service
  • Network Segmentation: you can implement software-defined segmentation that puts network traffic and components into different classifications for easy security and policy administration