Network Security 101: Everything You Need to Know

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Jessica Truong

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What is Network Security?

Network security is a subcategory under the cybersecurity umbrella. Its purpose is to prevent unauthorized users from gaining access to computer networks and devices. This involves protecting and creating a secure infrastructure for users, devices and applications.

Importance of Network Security

Network security is important for maintaining the integrity and confidentiality of organizational and employee data. internet security protect confidential information and will continue to be a necessity as more information is stored on devices across the organization’s network.

How does network security work?

Network security works by combining multiple layers of defense, with each security layer having policies and controls. Authorized users will be able to access network resources while malicious actors will not have the right to exploit vulnerabilities.

The elements of a comprehensive multi-layered security architecture that implements network security in an organization are access control and threat control (vmware).

Access control

The purpose of access control is to prevent unauthorized users from accessing the network. If for some reason they could gain access to an organization’s network, then they could insert malware or launch a distributed denial of service attack, or DDOS, for example.

Threat Control

The purpose of threat control is to prevent hackers from causing damage within an organization’s network. Threat Control operates on authorized traffic on the network.

Common network security vulnerabilities

In order to maintain network security, it is important to understand common vulnerabilities that we may encounter in network security. These are the types of vulnerabilities hackers typically exploit to gain access to your network.

Here are some of the common network security vulnerabilities:

  • Weak Passwords
  • Lack of physical security
  • Hardware and/or software operating systems are not updated to the latest version
  • The hardware and/or software was incorrectly installed
  • Design flaw in the network or in the operating system of a system

Common Types of Network Security Attacks

As we know, cybersecurity is an evolving field, which means the types of attacks we see will continue to be more complex and difficult to defend against.

These are just a few of the most common types of network security attacks that IT professionals should be aware of:

Malware attacks

A malware attack occurs when attackers install malicious software on a device. Malware can easily spread to other devices, making it difficult to remove.

Internal threat

As the name suggests, this type of attack starts inside the organization. An employee can use their own access to infiltrate the organization’s network and steal sensitive information.

Password attack

The attacker attempts to guess or perform a brute force attack in order to gain access to an organization’s network.

Social engineering

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Social engineering attacks occur when attackers impersonate a legitimate person working for an organization to trick users into providing personal information, such as login credentials. These attacks typically target those who are not tech-savvy; however, this does not mean that those with immense technical skills have not been manipulated before.

Data theft (also known as data exfiltration)

Data theft occurs when hackers gain unauthorized access to an organization’s network to steal confidential information and read-protected documents.

Network Protection Tips

Here are some network protection tips and best practices that an organization should follow:

  • Always be careful who you grant access to your network
  • Create strong passwords that use a combination of uppercase, lowercase, spacebar, numbers, special characters
  • Be sure to test your network security
  • Physically secure devices and servers

Network security tools

Since network security uses a layered approach, there are a number of tools that can be used to aid in access and threat control.

firewall

A firewall is a network security device used to monitor incoming and outgoing traffic in an organization’s network and decide whether to allow or deny traffic based on defined rules.

IDS/IPS

An intrusion detection system (IDS) is a network security device designed to detect suspicious activity within a network.

An intrusion prevention system (IPS) is designed to analyze network traffic and actively block any malicious traffic that wishes to enter the network.

IPS and IDS systems are placed behind the firewall.

load balancer

The purpose of a load balancer is to distribute network traffic across multiple servers so that a single server doesn’t do all the work.

Sandbox

A sandbox is an isolated environment in which you can run potentially dangerous applications or code without affecting the production environment.

Network Detection and Response (NTA/NDR)

NTA/NDR examines network traffic and uses machine learning algorithms to assess anomaly and determine if a threat exists. However, before this can be done, NTA/NDR will first need to determine the baseline.

Final Thoughts: Network Security is Vital

Network security plays an important role in cybersecurity. Its job is to protect the organization’s sensitive information from theft.

Cyberattacks will continue to be more complex and difficult to combat. Therefore, it is essential that an organization’s employees are made aware of what can be done to protect against network security attacks.

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Kevin M. Risinger