What is Network Security? | ITPro Today: IT news, tutorials, trends, case studies, career advice, and more.

Network security is about protecting data, devices, and systems in a network infrastructure from threats. Network security integrates various tools, processes, and policies and encompasses an entire network, from core to perimeter.

A holistic approach to network security includes strong access controls, as well as the ability to identify, isolate, and remove threats; verify user identities; encrypt sensitive data in transit; and apply content security to network traffic. Network security technology aims to ensure that network performance and connectivity are not compromised.

Network security is a major concern for organizations today. A Cloud Security Alliance report found network security to be the most pressing issue most organizations face when adopting public cloud services.

Network security can solve a wide range of problems. These include in particular the following:

  • Lack of visibility into network activity
  • phantom computing
  • Internal threats
  • Bad configurations
  • Privileged Access Control
  • Tool interoperability
  • Phishing and ransomware attacks
  • IoT Vulnerabilities
  • Software vulnerabilities
  • Regulatory conformity

How does network security work?

There are three basic goals for network security: protection, detection, and response.

protection consists in preventing intrusions on the network, while detection refers to tools for analyzing network traffic and identifying problems. Answer is the ability to respond to and resolve network security threats and vulnerabilities.

Each of these three areas can be addressed through the implementation of tools, processes and/or policies.

Increasingly, organizations are insisting on adopting a zero-trust model for network security. Zero trust uses a framework that ensures that only authenticated and authorized users and devices can access applications and data. Zero trust is often described as a “trust but verify” approach that assumes that organizations cannot secure what they cannot see.

What are the benefits of network security?

In addition to protecting sensitive information, comprehensive network security can help organizations comply with critical mandates, increase customer trust, and meet the needs of remote workers.

What are the network security challenges?

Network security can solve a wide range of problems, including the following:

The explosion in the number of employees working from home is one of the toughest network security challenges in recent memory. According to a study by security firm Barracuda, companies whose staff work primarily from home experienced a significantly higher rate of network security breaches than companies whose staff are based in the office.

What network security tools are available to help you?

Some network security offerings consist of broad security suites, while others deal with a specific area of ​​network security.

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Although it is impossible to list every vendor in the network security market, some of the most popular open source tools include Aircrack-ng, Wireshark, Metasploit, tcpdump, OWASP ZAP, Snort, and NMAP.

Major commercial network security vendors include Cisco, Microsoft, Trend Micro, Palo Alto Networks, Kaspersky, McAfee, Okta, Arctic Wolf Networks, Secureworks, Tenable, Fortinet, Forescout, Check Point Software, Cymulate, Akamai, Imperva, Splunk, IBM and Trustwave.

Network security in action

There are many ways to improve network security. Here are several examples.

Upgrade the network through a security platform

An insurance company realized it needed to build security into its network infrastructure after experiencing two security incidents in less than a year. Together with a consultant, the company decided to secure its infrastructure with Fortinet Security Fabric. The updated network infrastructure included next-generation firewall, web filtering, antimalware, and application control features. Other Fortinet features included SD-WAN capabilities, endpoint and email security, sandbox analysis, and wireless connectivity. The updated network helped the organization prevent future attacks and recoup the staff hours and budgets needed to maintain the previous infrastructure.

Balance network performance with security

After a university upgraded its network to faster speeds, it found that the new network equipment did not support NetFlow, which it needed to analyze network traffic. The university’s IT staff implemented Gigamon Visibility and Analytics, which supports NetFlow as well as IPv6. This combination of technologies allowed the university to get a high-level metadata view of the information and prioritize which tools would see what data, while increasing NetFlow’s performance. The implementation also expanded network visibility and reduced false positives.

Meet compliance requirements

A financial services company needed to ensure that new security systems would comply with privacy regulations. The new systems also had to protect the company’s data centers and its VMware-based private cloud infrastructure. After opting for a distributed architecture approach, the company standardized on Check Point’s technology. The Maestro hyperscaler orchestrator coordinated the company’s many firewalls, while Check Point’s 16000 and 5200 series next-generation firewalls provided protection against attacks. Other features included data loss prevention, mobile access application control, URL filtering, content and identity awareness, as well as anti-bot and anti-virus protection. To better secure its private cloud, the team adopted CloudGuard Network Security. Finally, the company added Check Point’s R80 Unified Security Management, which provides access control with policy organized into layers and sub-layers.

Manage devices connected to the network

A large healthcare system needed increased control over its networks and data for approximately 75,000 devices. Devices ranged from PCs, laptops and smartphones to IoT devices such as video conferencing systems, network printers and biomedical technology. The healthcare system also needed a way to identify and classify devices connected to networks, securely add new types of medical devices to networks, and automate compliance and remediation of device policies. terminals. The healthcare system adopted Forescout’s security platform, including Forescout eyeExtend, network access control and network segmentation, incident response, device visibility and compliance, and asset management .

Conclusion

Organizations today rely heavily on the development of technologies such as cloud services and sensor-based devices. While these technologies have major benefits, they come with risks. The more devices, users and applications you have, the more vulnerable your network becomes.

Businesses must find ways to protect their physical, digital, and identity-based assets from ever-increasing risks — new cyberattack techniques, misconfigurations and vulnerabilities, and insider threats, among others. The only way to mitigate these risks is to develop a holistic approach to network security, one that deals with protection, detection and response.

Kevin M. Risinger