The reality is inescapable: security threats to your network are more prevalent than ever. Current threats certainly don’t discriminate between what type of business you are in or what sort of computers you are using, either. As quickly as we find solutions to one network security risk, there is another waiting in the wings. The trouble is, potential threats can come from any direction, and some of the most damaging may actually deploy from within the network itself.
What is Network Security?
Network security can be best described as any activity or tool intended to protect the integrity of your network and the data contained therein. Effective network security consists of both hardware and software based technologies. It should manage access to your network, while addressing a range of threats before they are able to enter or spread.
While an out-of-the-box firewall and virus protection might be fine for a personal network, a more complex network infrastructure requires highly specialized solutions. Since there are several potentially weak points in any network infrastructure, protecting each with a targeted product makes the most sense in a perfect world. Bottom line, no matter what your specific security needs might be, there is no one product that ‘does it all.’
Types of Network Security
There are several types of network security, each with their own dedicated solution. For best results, physical, cloud and hybrid environments should be protected from all possible access points. Depending on your specific security requirements, the right combination of these network security products can provide you with robust protection from a range of current and future threats.
Network Access Control: in order to protect your network from unauthorized access, each user and device should be recognized. Noncompliant devices or unknown users will be blocked based on policies you define.
Antivirus/Antimalware: a software-based solution that scans incoming data for malicious code. As many newer threats tend to lie dormant for days or weeks, the best anti-virus software will continue to track files in order to identify anomalies and fix problems before they cause any damage.
Firewalls: can be hardware or software based, placing a barrier between your network and outside networks using a set of predefined rules. Next generation firewalls can be threat-specific or more generalized to protect against a range of threats.
Intrusion Prevention Systems: actively blocks incoming network attacks and also tracks the progression of suspect files in order to prevent infections.
Web Security Software: intended to block web-based threats, will deny access to malicious sites and protect your gateway in the cloud.
Wireless Security: your wireless network will never be as secure as a wired one. To adequately protect your wireless network, you need a product that is specifically meant for this purpose.
Email Security: email is the number one gateway for network security breaches. Attackers use sophisticated phishing and social engineering tactics to coerce your employees to visit sites that will deploy malware. Your email security software blocks incoming threats and encrypts and controls outgoing messages to protect your sensitive data.
Behavioral Analytics: behavioral analytics tools determine abnormal behavior by identifying activity that deviates from whatever your ‘normal’ is. This allows your IT security team to isolate potential threats and remediate quickly.
Data Loss Prevention: also known as DLP, this technology prevents users from sending, uploading, forwarding or even printing sensitive information outside the network.
Packet Filtering: a hardware or software device that stands at the perimeter of your network, filtering incoming and outgoing data based on a set of criteria you determine. Packet filtering can be based on geographical, IP and various other factors.
Keep in mind that threats are constantly on the move, and cyber thieves will always take advantage of a vulnerability if it presents itself. Keeping your network security hardware and software up to date ensures that you are always protected from the latest known malicious schemes.
Your biggest network security threat may not be an enemy at all
In the past, cyber thieves may have spent days, weeks or months hacking into a network in order to steal personal or payment information or to launch an attack against your IP. More common of late, these malicious perpetrators are targeting the employees themselves – sending malicious links through emails or ad servers in the hope that they will unwittingly deploy code from within – sort of a ticking time bomb waiting to explode into chaos. The upshot for them is that it is generally a fast and easy way in. After all, why work so hard when you can get somebody to open that virtual door for you?
Implementing stringent network security protocols throughout your workforce is the best way to avoid an attack of this type. Sometimes it isn’t enough to prevent access or to stop an incoming attack – you must diligently train your employees to recognize these threats before they have a chance to enter your system. Social engineering tactics, phishing and other coercive techniques have caught many an unwitting individual with often devastating results. Denial of service, ransomware and viral infection are just a handful of potentialities. So, even if you are confident that your network security is the best it can possibly be, don’t neglect the one thing that is targeted most: the end user.
CCG: your partner in network security
With a full range of network security products, the engineers at CCG can design and deploy a security ecosystem that works for the way you do business. If this article got you thinking about what you can do to protect your network, drop us a line today and let’s get started. We guarantee you’ll sleep better knowing your vital data is safe and secure.