What You Need to Know About Network Security by Richard Azu

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Is Your Network Immune from Attacks?

Network security is the practice of implementing standards to protect network systems against unauthorized access or improper disclosure to corporate networks. This practice includes the use of hardware as well as software technologies to achieve the best solution for network defence. 

The criticality of an organisation’s data and infrastructure often requires a certain level of network security expertise that can only be provided by knowledgeable cyber security companies. This ensures any organisation can defend its network resources from the exponentially increasing threats of cybercrime.

Our current network architecture is faced with ever-changing threats and intruders who are constantly evolving their methods to find and exploit vulnerabilities. 

Let’s look at the types of network security you need to remain safe and secure.

Types of Network Security

Network security acts as the layer of protection between your network and any malicious activity being executed by a hacker, either internally or externally. This layer remains accessible or penetrable until the right solution to protect your network is implemented. The following types of network security will help you understand and select which one needs to be implemented based on your requirements.

Access Control

Organisational networks shouldn’t allow every user automatic access. There should be policies to restrict or terminate unrecognized devices from accessing the network. Profiles for devices and users that are classified as white or trusted should only be able to work within the scope they’ve been allowed. Blocking such non-compliant devices and user profiles can save your network against possible security breaches. This process is called Network Access Control (NAC).

System Behaviour Analytics

In order to spot irregular patterns in a network, it’s important to understand and analyse the normal behaviour of a network. System behaviour analytics is the use of software tools to detect or spot any network and system anomaly as they happen. The software tools establish a baseline of what defines normal behaviour for user profiles, applications and network activities.

Anti-malicious Software or “Anti-malware”

Malware, or “malicious software”, is software designed by cyber hackers with the primary intention of gaining access or causing damage to a computer system or network. It’s a form of cyber-attack that keeps evolving. While some may destroy files or corrupt data once they come into contact, others create undetectable routes or backdoors into systems for hackers to exploit. The best anti-malware shouldn’t just scan your network and go idle; it must also monitor the network traffic in real time for malware and look for irregular patterns within the network.

Email Security

Email gateways are the number one attack vectors for hackers to launch a security breach. Attackers can gather personal information from publicly available social media sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, etc. They use this information and social engineering tactics to generate phishing campaigns to deceive recipients into launching malware sites or portals. Email security applications scan for sensitive data in outgoing mails to prevent loss of critical and sensitive data. They also monitor for block attacks in incoming mails.

Firewalls

Firewalls are network security devices, software or hardware, that scan incoming and outgoing traffic and decide to allow or block specific traffic based on a set of defined policies. A firewall is the first line of defence in securing networks. It establishes a barrier between the protected internal network that can be trusted and the untrusted outside network, thereby preventing threats from hackers.

Network Segmentation

Segmentation divides a computer network into smaller portions, all with unique hosts. The smaller networks become a subnet of the larger network. Its purpose is to help enforce easier security policies and improve network performance. Segmentation allows role-based and location-based access profiles for users, and thus helps to contain and remediate suspicious devices.

VPN

Encrypting the connectivity between a device and any untrusted network creates a Virtual Private Network (VPN). This method of encryption allows remote access to secure corporate applications and other network resources. VPNs add additional levels of security and privacy to untrusted networks.

Web Security

This network security solution checks the level of access profiles defined for users, classifies users as either authorized or unauthorized, scans for vulnerabilities in web applications, and protects sensitive data from being compromised. It also checks for security levels deployed in websites and denies access when they don’t meet defined security standards.

Intrusion Detection and Prevention Systems

An Intrusion Detection and Prevention System (IDPS) scans network traffic in real time to actively block attacks that match global intelligence threat signatures. It also tracks malicious files and patterns and prevents them from replicating across the network.

Wireless Security

The fact remains that wireless networks aren’t quite as secure as wired networks. With the emergence of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), mobile office culture and hot-desking, wireless access points have now become a channel for security breaches. A properly implemented wireless security system prevents unauthorized users from accessing an organisation’s wireless network.

The Principles of Network Security

Network security is built around three important components: Confidentiality, Integrity and Availability (C-I-A). When all three elements work simultaneously, a network is considered secure. 

Confidentiality is the security principle that manages access to information. 

It’s implemented to ensure users with the wrong access cannot gain access to restricted data, while users with the right access profiles can access restricted data. 

The second component, integrity, ensures critical data is from a genuine source, not broken, and isn’t altered or modified during transmission. 

The third component, availability, guarantees constant and reliable access to critical data. It ensures access to critical data is only possible with the right access profile.

The Importance of Network Security

It’s critical to understand the importance of network security.

Whether you own a start-up or a multinational corporation, network security should be implemented equally for them. A solid network security system is one that combines hardware tools, software tools, policies, best practises, and the three network security components to prevent unauthorised access to your system.


About the Author:

Richard has a Diploma in Telecommunications Engineering from the Multimedia University – Malaysia and a Bsc. Engineering Physics from the University of Cape Coast, Ghana. He’s currently a member of the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET  - UK). With over 16 years of experience in Network/Telecom Engineering, he’s experienced in the deployment of voice and data over the media; radio, copper and fibre. He is currently looking for ways to derive benefit from the WDM technology in Optics. Using Kali as a springboard, he has developed an interest in digital forensics and penetration testing.

May 20, 2020
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