What is Network Security?
Network Security protects your network and data from breaches, intrusions and other threats. This is a vast and overarching term that describes hardware and software solutions as well as processes or rules and configurations relating to network use, accessibility, and overall threat protection.
Types of Network Security
So now that we understand what network security is, let’s take a look at some of the different ways you can secure your network.
Antivirus and Antimalware Software
Antivirus and antimalware software protect an organization from a range of malicious software, including viruses, ransomware, worms and trojans. The best software not only scans files upon entry to the network but continuously scans and tracks files.
Firewalls, as their name suggests, control incoming and outgoing traffic on networks, with predetermined security rules. Firewalls keep out unfriendly traffic and is a necessary part of daily computing. Network Security relies heavily on Firewalls, and especially Next Generation Firewalls, which focus on blocking malware and application-layer attacks. Administrators typically configure a set of defined rules that blocks or permits traffic onto the network.
Virtual Private Networks
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.
Multifactor Authentication (MFA)
MFA is an easy-to-employ and increasingly popular network security solution that requires two or more factors to verify a user's identity. An example of this is Microsoft Authenticator, an app which generates unique security codes that a user enters alongside their password to verify their identity.
Cloud providers often sell add-on cloud security tools that provide security capabilities in their cloud. The cloud provider manages the security of its overall infrastructure and offers tools for the user to protect their instances within the overall cloud infrastructure.
Email is one of the most vulnerable points in a network. It refers to any processes, products, and services designed to protect your email accounts and email content safe from external threats.
Employees become victims of phishing and malware attacks when they click on email links that secretly download malicious software. Email is also an insecure method of sending files and sensitive data that employees unwittingly engage in.
Most email service providers have built-in email security features designed to keep you secure, but these may not be enough to stop cybercriminals from accessing your information.
Cloud Network Security
Applications and workloads are no longer exclusively hosted on-premises in a local data center. Protecting the modern data center requires greater flexibility and innovation to keep pace with the migration of application workloads to the cloud. Software-defined Networking (SDN) and Software-defined Wide Area Network (SD-WAN) solutions enable network security solutions in private, public, hybrid and cloud-hosted Firewall-as-a-Service (FWaaS) deployments.
Mobile Device Security
Business applications for smartphones and other mobile devices have made these devices an important part of network security. Monitoring and controlling which mobile devices access a network and what they do once connected to a network is crucial for modern network security.
Network segmentation defines boundaries between network segments where assets within the group have a common function, risk or role within an organization. For instance, the perimeter gateway segments a company network from the Internet. Potential threats outside the network are prevented, ensuring that an organization’s sensitive data remains inside. Organizations can go further by defining additional internal boundaries within their network, which can provide improved security and access control.
Network Access Control
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.
Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA)
The zero trust security model states that a user should only have the access and permissions that they require to fulfill their role. This is a very different approach from that provided by traditional security solutions, like VPNs, that grant a user full access to the target network. Zero trust network access (ZTNA) also known as software-defined perimeter (SDP) solutions permits granular access to an organization’s applications from users who require that access to perform their duties.
Data Loss Prevention (DLP)
Data loss prevention (DLP) is a cybersecurity methodology that combines technology and best practices to prevent the exposure of sensitive information outside of an organization, especially regulated data such as personally identifiable information (PII) and compliance related data: HIPAA, SOX, PCI DSS, etc.
Intrusion Prevention Systems (IPS)
IPSes are designed to prevent intrusions by detecting and blocking unauthorized attempts to access a network. They can detect or prevent network security attacks such as brute force attacks, Denial of Service (DoS) attacks and exploits of known vulnerabilities. A vulnerability is a weakness for instance in a software system and an exploit is an attack that leverages that vulnerability to gain control of that system. When an exploit is announced, there is often a window of opportunity for attackers to exploit that vulnerability before the security patch is applied. An Intrusion Prevention System can be used in these cases to quickly block these attacks.
Sandboxing is a cybersecurity practice where you run code or open files in a safe, isolated environment on a host machine that mimics end-user operating environments. Sandboxing observes the files or code as they are opened and looks for malicious behavior to prevent threats from getting on the network. For example malware in files such as PDF, Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint can be safely detected and blocked before the files reach an unsuspecting end user.
Hyperscale Network Security
Hyperscale is the ability of an architecture to scale appropriately, as increased demand is added to the system. This solution includes rapid deployment and scaling up or down to meet changes in network security demands. By tightly integrating networking and compute resources in a software-defined system, it is possible to fully utilize all hardware resources available in a clustering solution.
Security Information and Event Management (SIEM)
This security management technique logs data from applications and network hardware and monitors for suspicious behavior. When an anomaly is detected, the SIEM system alerts the organization and takes other appropriate action.
Software-Defined Perimeter (SDP)
An SDP is a security method that sits on top of the network it protects, concealing it from attackers and unauthorized users. It uses identity criteria to limit access to resources and forms a virtual boundary around networked resources.
This practice controls employee web use on an organization's network and devices, including blocking certain threats and websites, while also protecting the integrity of an organization's websites themselves.
Wireless networks are one of the riskiest parts of a network and require stringent protections and monitoring. It's important to follow wireless security best practices, such as segmenting Wi-Fi users by service set identifiers, or SSIDs, and using 802.1X authentication. Good monitoring and auditing tools are also needed to ensure wireless network security.
When organizations balance workloads among multiple devices across cloud and hybrid environments, they increase the potential attack surfaces. Workload security measures and secure load balancers are crucial to protecting the data contained in these workloads.