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An Introduction to Network Security
Network security- The definition
Network security- the term itself explains what it’s all about! Network security refers to all the activities that are designed and executed to protect your network and the data in it. Thus, network security is a term that refers to both the hardware technologies and the software technologies that are employed to ensure the security of your network and data. The main intention would be to identify and block threats from entering a network.
Network security- How it works!
To put it simply, we can say that network security works by combining multiple layers of defenses at the edge as well as within the network. Each of these layers would implement policies and controls, which help keep malicious actors away; only authorized users are given access to network resources.
Network security- The benefits
There are different benefits of network security. An organization can, using network security, protect its network and all computer systems, devices, applications and processes that are part of the network. For a business organization, network security is of paramount importance as it involves protecting the business as well as ensuring that the customers are delivered the services in an effective manner. Network security also seeks to secure all kinds of data- organizational data as well as sensitive personal data of customers. Moreover, network security also helps an organization protect its reputation.
Network security- The different types
Antivirus/antimalware software- We use an antivirus or antimalware software to scan for virus/malware as they make their entry and also to continuously track files to find anomalies and malicious content. The antivirus tool or antimalware software would not only identify and track the malicious software (malware) but help remove them and fix the damage as well.
Network Access Control (NAC)- It’s important that each user and every single device in a network is recognized/identified so that potential attackers are kept at bay. Not everyone should be allowed to access a network, especially one that belongs to a business organization or one that deals with lots of sensitive data. Hence an organization should enforce its security policies and block noncompliant endpoints or give them only limited access, thereby working out what is called Network Access Control.
Application security- Applications that are part of a network might contain security holes or vulnerabilities that could be exploited by attackers to gain unauthorized entry. Application Security involves identifying and closing the security holes in all the hardware, software and processes that are part of a network.
Data Loss Prevention (DLP)- Data Loss Prevention or DLP refers to the technologies that are employed to ensure that no data is uploaded, forwarded or even printed in an unsafe manner. This is important for any organization since it’s crucial that all the data that resides in its network is safe and is not sent outside the network in an insecure manner.
Behavioral analytics- This includes detecting abnormal behavior in a network. For this, it becomes important that normal behavior is understood. Organizations use behavioral analytics tools to detect activities that deviate from the normal and thus detect or prevent any kind of compromise. This also helps in the quick remediation of threats targeting a network.
Email security- In today’s world, email gateways are amongst the most prominent of threat vectors that hackers could exploit to carry out a security breach. Phishing campaigns are executed in the most sophisticated of manners and as a result employees within an organization are duped into clicking on links or downloading attachments that come with such phishing emails. These links or attachments help hackers infect a system or network with malware and then carry out data breaches. Organizations use email security applications to identify and block such incoming attacks and also to control and manage outbound messages, thereby helping in preventing the loss of sensitive data.
Firewalls- Firewall (software and/or hardware) helps set up a barrier between a trusted internal network and untrusted outside networks (including the internet). A set of rules are used to allow or block traffic that flows into a network.
Mobile device security- With mobile devices getting more and more popular, hackers now tend to target them as well. There are many organizations that allow the use of personal mobile devices for work. Such mobile devices support corporate applications and hence it becomes easy for a hacker to hack such a mobile device, thereby gaining easy access to a corporate network. Mobile device security comprises securing such mobile devices and control which devices should access a network.
Intrusion prevention systems- An intrusion prevention system (IPS) scans network traffic and actively blocks all intrusive attacks. Global threat intelligence is used as a base to block malicious activity and to track the progression of suspect files and malware across a network.
Network segmentation- This is nothing but classifying network traffic into different categories or segments and assigning/managing access control.
Virtual Private Network (VPN)- A VPN, which works by masking the original network and giving the impression that it’s the legit connection that’s used, helps extend a private network across a public network and thereby encrypts the connection from an endpoint to a network (often over the internet). This helps secure the data transmitted within a network in an effective manner.
Web security- Using a software solution to control web use by all employees, blocking web-based threats and blocking access to malicious websites- all these are part of web security. It also includes protecting an organization’s website and protecting the web gateway on site or in the cloud.
Wireless security- Wireless security includes using stringent security measures to secure wireless networks, which might not be as secure as wired ones. Wireless security products prevent exploits from gaining access to a network via wireless networks.
Security Information and Event Management (SIEM)- This includes compiling information, using various tools (physical tools, virtual appliances or server software) to gather information that the security staff in an organization would need to identify threats and respond to them.