Network security is any activity designed to protect the usability and integrity of networks and data. It covers a multitude of technologies, devices, and processes that set rules and configurations designed to protect the integrity, confidentiality, and accessibility of computer networks and data using both software and hardware technologies. Every organization, regardless of size, industry, or infrastructure, requires a degree of network security solutions in place to protect it from the ever-growing landscape of cyber threats in the world today.
Network security combines multiple layers of defenses at the edge and in the network. Each network security layer implements policies and controls. Authorized users gain access to network resources, but malicious actors are blocked from carrying out exploits and threats.
Digitization has transformed our world on how we live, work, play, and learn have all changed. Complex network architecture faces environmental threats for attackers who exploit vulnerabilities. For an organization to deliver services that shareholder, customers, and employees demand must protect its network. Network security also helps you protect proprietary information from attack. Protect your reputation by implementing different security controls as shown below;
Physical Network Security
Physical security controls are designed to prevent unauthorized personnel from gaining physical access to network components such as routers, cabling cupboards, and so on. Controlled access, such as locks, biometric authentication, and other devices, is essential in any organization.
Technical Network Security
Technical security controls protect data that is stored on the network or which is in transit across, into, or out of the network. Protection is twofold; it needs to protect data and systems from unauthorized personnel, and it also needs to protect against malicious activities from employees.
Administrative Network Security
Administrative security controls consist of security policies and processes that control user behavior, including how users are authenticated, their level of access, and also how IT staff members implement changes to the infrastructure.
Types of network security
Firewalls put up a barrier between your trusted internal network and untrusted outside networks, such as the Internet. They use a set of defined rules to allow or block traffic. A firewall can be hardware, software, or both. Cisco offers unified threat management (UTM) devices and threat-focused next-generation firewalls.
Email gateways are the number one threat vector for a security breach. Attackers use personal information and social engineering tactics to build sophisticated phishing campaigns to deceive recipients and send them to sites serving up malware. An email security application blocks incoming attacks and controls outbound messages to prevent the loss of sensitive data.
Anti-virus and anti-malware software
“Malware,” short for “malicious software,” includes viruses, worms, Trojans, ransomware, and spyware. Sometimes malware will infect a network but lie dormant for days or even weeks. The best anti-malware programs not only scan for malware upon entry, but also continuously track files afterward to find anomalies, remove malware, and fix the damage.
Software-defined segmentation puts network traffic into different classifications and makes enforcing security policies easier. Ideally, the classifications are based on endpoint identity, not mere IP addresses. You can assign access rights based on role, location, and more so that the right level of access is given to the right people and suspicious devices are contained and remediated.
To ensure that potential attackers cannot infiltrate your network, comprehensive access control policies need to be in place for both users and devices. Network access control (NAC) can be set at the most granular level. For example, you could grant administrators full access to the network but deny access to specific confidential folders or prevent their personal devices from joining the network.
Any software you use to run your business needs to be protected, whether in-house built or open source. Unfortunately, any application may contain back-doors or vulnerabilities, that attacker can use to infiltrate your network. Application security encompasses the hardware, software, and processes used to harden security.
To detect abnormal network behavior, you must know what normal behavior looks like. Behavioral analytics tools automatically discern activities that deviate from the norm. Your security team can then better identify indicators of compromise that pose a potential problem and quickly remediate threats.
Data loss prevention
Organizations must make sure that their staff does not send sensitive information outside the network. Data loss prevention, or DLP, technologies can stop people from uploading, forwarding, or even printing critical information in an unsafe manner.
Intrusion prevention systems
An intrusion prevention system (IPS) scans network traffic to actively block attacks. The appliances correlate huge amounts of global threat intelligence to not only block malicious activity but also track the progression of suspect files and malware across the network to prevent the spread of outbreaks and reinfection.
Mobile device security
Cyber-criminals are increasingly targeting mobile devices and apps. Advancement of Technology prompts the use of mobile devices to access organizations’ applications, and there is a need to control which devices can access the network as well as configure their connections to keep network traffic private.
Virtual Private Networks (VPN)
Virtual private networks (VPNs) create a connection to the network from another endpoint or site. For example, users working from home would typically connect to the organization’s network over a VPN. Data between the two points is encrypted and the user would need to authenticate to allow communication between their device and the network.
A web security solution will control your staff’s web use, block web-based threats, and deny access to malicious websites. It will protect your web gateway on-site or in the cloud.