Network security is a sub-category of cybersecurity. Its purpose is to prevent unauthorized users from accessing networks and computing devices. It involves protecting and creating a secure infrastructure for users, devices, and applications. It works by combining multiple layers of defenses with each security layer having policies and controls.
What is network security?
Network security is a sub-category of cybersecurity. Its purpose is to prevent unauthorized users from accessing networks and computing devices. It involves protecting and creating a secure infrastructure for users, devices, and applications.
Importance of network security
Network security is important to maintain the integrity and confidentiality of organizational and employee data. Internet security protects confidential information and will continue to be a necessity as more information will be stored on devices across the organization’s network.
How does network security work?
Network security works by combining multiple layers of defenses, with each security layer having policies and controls. Authorized users will be able to access network resources while malicious actors will be prohibited from exploiting vulnerabilities.
The elements of a comprehensive, multi-layered security architecture that implements network security in an organization are access control and threat control (vmware).
The purpose of access control is to prevent unauthorized users from accessing the network. If for some reason they could gain access to an organization’s network, then they could insert malware or launch a Distributed Denial of Service attack, or DDOS, for example.
The purpose of threat control is to prevent hackers from causing damage within an organization’s network. Threat control operates on authorized traffic on the network.
Common network security vulnerabilities
In order to maintain network security, it is important to understand the common vulnerabilities that we may encounter in network security. These are the types of vulnerabilities that hackers typically exploit to gain access to your network.
Here are some of the common network security vulnerabilities:
- Weak passwords
- Lack of physical security
- Hardware and / or software operating systems are not updated to the latest version
- Hardware and / or software have been installed incorrectly
- Design flaw in the network or in the operating system of a system
Common types of network security attacks
As we know, cybersecurity is an evolving field, which means the types of attacks we see will continue to be more complex and difficult to combat.
These are just a few of the more common types of network security attacks that IT pros should be aware of:
A malware attack occurs when attackers install malware on a device. Malware can easily spread to other devices, making it difficult to remove.
As the name suggests, this type of attack starts inside the organization. An employee can use their own access to infiltrate the organization’s network and steal sensitive information.
The attacker attempts to guess or perform a brute force attack in order to gain access to an organization’s network.
Social engineering attacks occur when attackers pose as a legitimate person working for an organization to trick users into providing personal information, such as login credentials. These attacks usually target those who are not so tech-savvy; However, this does not mean that those with immense technical skills have never been manipulated before.
Data theft (also known as data exfiltration)
Data theft occurs when hackers gain unauthorized access to an organization’s network to steal confidential information and read-protected documents.
Network protection tips
Here are some tips and best practices for network protection that an organization should follow:
- Always be careful who you grant access to your network
- Create strong passwords that use a combination of upper case, lower case, space bar, numbers, special characters
- Make sure to test the security of your network
- Physically secure devices and servers
Network security tools
Since network security uses a multi-layered approach, there are a number of tools that can be used to facilitate access and threat control.
A firewall is a network security device used to monitor traffic entering and leaving an organization’s network and decide whether to allow or deny traffic based on defined rules.
IDS / IPS
An intrusion detection system (IDS) is a network security device designed to detect any suspicious activity within a network.
An intrusion prevention system (IPS) is designed to analyze network traffic and actively block any malicious traffic that wishes to enter the network.
IPS and IDS systems are placed behind the firewall.
The goal of a load balancer is to distribute network traffic across multiple servers so that one server does not do all the work.
A sandbox is an isolated environment in which you can run potentially dangerous applications or code without affecting the production environment.
Network detection and response (NTA / NDR)
NTA / NDR examines network traffic and uses machine learning algorithms to assess the anomaly and determine if there is a threat. However, before this can be done, NTA / NDR will need to determine the baseline first.
Final thoughts: Network security is vital
Network security plays an important role in cybersecurity. Its job is to protect the organization’s sensitive information from theft.
Cyber attacks will continue to be increasingly complex and difficult to combat. Therefore, it is essential that the employees of an organization are made aware of what can be done to protect against network security attacks.