When evaluating network security versus application security, the two areas have distinct differences. At the same time, however, their commonalities and connections are equally evident.
Network security is the protection of systems and information assets at the network level, typically involving areas such as routers and switches, servers, workstations, and wireless networks. Technologies such as firewalls, intrusion prevention systems, and data loss prevention (DLP) are in place to protect these systems. Additionally, patch management tools, vulnerability scanners, and secure web gateways are used to discover and prevent network-level security weaknesses.
Application security is the protection of application front-ends, source code, and information assets at the software level, involving systems such as websites, databases, mobile applications, and client and server applications. Technologies such as web application firewalls, source code scanners, and cloud access security brokers (CASB) are used to secure applications.
Operating systems, such as Windows, macOS, and Linux, technically fall into both categories, but would generally be considered part of network security.
Network security versus application security – finding common ground
In small organizations, IT staff and external developers are typically responsible for network security and application security, respectively. For medium to large businesses, individuals – or sometimes teams of people – are responsible for both network security and application security.
When evaluating IoT, cloud computing, and everything in between, most network systems have some sort of software functionality. And, vice versa, most applications require some sort of underlying network system to function. Even with their differences, network security and application security do share some commonalities.
Network security and application security are components of an overall information security program which includes policies, procedures, incident response and disaster recovery. Regardless of the specific threats and vulnerabilities associated with network systems and application environments, Network and Application Security strives to support the greater good of the company and overall IT risk mitigation.
In terms of continuous monitoring, whether it’s network security or application security, the process is the same:
- You need to understand your surroundings.
- You need to understand the weaknesses in each of the areas.
- You need to ensure that the proper visibility and controls are in place to minimize the risks of a security event and maximize the value of security and how it positively supports the business.