A Guide To Network Security

Haseeb Awan
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September 27, 2022
Modified On
April 5, 2023

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Modified On
April 5, 2023

The internet has quickly become a staple in our home and work lives. With its ubiquity come increased security threats to businesses that rely on the internet for many operations. Neglecting network security is not an option anymore. The growing number of devices employees use has made it easier than ever for hackers to gain access to company data through various methods like spear phishing attacks. How can you protect your business, then? 

With the internet's growth comes more sophisticated ways for criminals to access sensitive information. HTTPS protocols have enabled cybercriminals to use various types of malware, such as links in email or instant messaging, to steal information from infected computers and create botnets.

Internet threats come in many forms, including financial damage, identity theft and loss of private information. Cybercriminals put everyone at risk by trying to break into both personal and professional computer systems. This is why these systems must be secure against attacks. Cybercrime is an ever-growing problem for businesses, and the reputational damage caused by attacks can be just as costly as monetary losses. 

Recent network security statistics show that a shocking 70% of all cyber attacks could have been prevented if basic security measures had been in place.

This is a major issue that is only getting worse. As our lives become increasingly digital, we are putting ourselves at greater risk. We need to be more proactive about our security and ensure that we're doing everything possible to safeguard ourselves. Network security has become a vital concern in cybersecurity due to the increasing number and variety of attacks. So, what exactly is network security, and why does it matter?

What Is A Network?

A network is a collection of connected devices to share data and resources. Networks can be small, like those used in homes or offices, or large, like those used by organizations or corporations.

What Is Network Security?

Network security defends against a variety of potential hazards that could enter or spread throughout a network, thereby keeping the infrastructure working correctly and avoiding any integrity issues. An architecture for network security employs tools to secure both the applications using the network and the network itself. Automated layers of defense work together more effectively than a single layer to keep up with any attempts at entry. The administrator chooses which set of security policies each defensive layer enforces.

If you have an internet connection, network security is a must. Wireless routers are present in almost every home, and if they aren't adequately protected, they may be easily hacked. Implementing a solid network security system decreases the risk of data loss, theft, and sabotage.

Network security is in place to safeguard your workstations from dangerous spyware. It also assures the data's security. By dividing information into separate parts, encrypting them and moving them over distinct pathways, network security infrastructure provides a wide range of defense against MiM attacks, including eavesdropping.

Types Of Network Security

There are three primary types of network security:

Physical Security: 

This type of security protects the physical components of the network, such as routers, switches, and servers, from damage or theft.

Technical Security: 

This type protects the network from unauthorized access and data breaches. It includes firewalls, intrusion detection and prevention systems, and encryption.

Organizational Security: 

This type of security covers the policies and procedures to protect the network. It includes user access control, data classification, and incident response plans.

Now that we understand network security let us explore how it works.

How Does Network Security Work?

The two processes that makeup network security are authentication and authorization.

Authentication is the first step in security, which functions by only permitting those with permission to enter a building. In simpler terms, authentication guarantees that the person trying to access or join the network is supposed to be there, therefore keeping out any unlawful individuals.

Then comes authorization, which determines the amount of access or authorization level to provide a network user based on his or her job function. For example, while the network administrator will require access to the entire network, employees working within it will only require access to certain sections. The act of assigning varying levels of access or authorization status to users according to their functions is known as authorization.

Why Do We Need To Secure Our Networks?

The internet has become more popular than ever before, as we continue to digitalize even our daily activities. Hackers and attackers are becoming increasingly active due to increased internet use, and our networking system is prone to greater virus attacks.

Two of the main goals for network security are to protect data from unauthorized access and provide secure storage for PC files and laptops, not only on an individual level but also for public or shared domain networks.

Network security is necessary because:

  • In order to prevent any unauthorized access to the information.
  • However slight, any accidental delay in the delivery's route would negate any benefits.
  • To prevent the data from being tampered with.
  • To stop a specific user in the network from sending any mail or message that makes it look to the receiving party like it was sent by someone else.
  • To protect our hardware, such as hard disks, PCs, and laptops, from malware attacks that might corrupt or delete all of our data.
  • We need to safeguard our PCs from harmful software that may be installed since hackers do.
  • To protect our system from worms, Trojan horses, and other malware that might wreck it.

Types of Network Attacks

With the internet being a staple for communication in most organizations, data is often exchanged between networks - sometimes confidential information. Since remote accessibility gives anyone access to these devices, they become vulnerable targets for data interception by malicious parties. This not only violates user privacy settings but can also compromise any device connected to the internet.

There are many types of network attacks, and enterprises need to be vigilant to protect their assets from sophisticated cyber threats. They should maintain high cybersecurity standards, develop strong network security policies, and keep their employees trained to identify and respond to potential threats.

DDoS Attacks: 

Involve deploying large networks of devices infected with malware. These systems then flood enterprise servers with high volumes of fraudulent traffic. This can interfere with access to important data, such as patient records for healthcare institutions.

MITM Attacks

The term "man-in-the-middle attack" refers to a network attack in which attackers secretly utilize an insecure connection to observe or tamper with data. In most cases, man-in-the-middle attacks are carried out using insecure security procedures. These allow hackers to impersonate a relay or proxy account and alter real-time transactions' data in real-time.

Unauthorized Access: 

It means that somebody outside of the company is trying to get into parts of the network they're not allowed to be in. This often happens because account passwords aren't strong enough, data isn't encrypted, or employees with certain privileges abuse their rights. To avoid privilege escalation and unauthorized access, organizations should give precedence to the least-privilege principle.

SQL Injection Attacks: 

User data inputs might make organizational networks vulnerable to SQL injection attacks if left unchecked. External actors use this technique of attack to replace legitimate data values on forms with harmful code in order to compromise the network and gain access to sensitive information like user passwords. Some SQL injection attacks are aimed at gathering information about databases and their structure and version. An attacker may target the application layer by disrupting logical sequences or functions, preventing the code from executing as intended. Parameterized queries/prepared statements, which can be used to verify untrustworthy data inputs, can help defend against SQL injection attacks.

Compromised Key Attack

A key is a code or number used to interpret protected information. An attacker that gets ahold of this key is said to have compromised it, and with it, they can access secure communications without either party realizing it.

Rootkits

Rootkits are stealthy packages intended to give administrative privileges and gain access to a community tool. Hackers can now execute any action, such as monitoring clients or stealing private data, without impediment after installing the software.

How Network Security Can Help Cybersecurity

The protection of computer programs, networks, and systems from digital attacks is referred to as cybersecurity. The success of a cybersecurity plan relies on network security, which ensures that the strategy succeeds by;

  • By configuring your network security properly, you can protect your network.
  • Finding any changes in your network's configuration or an issue with its traffic flow
  • Reacting promptly to the problem and restoring the network into a secure state
  • Network security is an essential area of cybersecurity that offers various advantages.

Common Vulnerabilities in the Networking Infrastructure

Many vulnerabilities, threats and issues exist in networks today. While some are quickly fixed, others need more concerted solutions. Vulnerabilities are present in virtually all computer networks, leaving them vulnerable to outside assaults. Devices and networks remain susceptible even if no one is attacking or targeting them. A vulnerability is a network's infrastructure or hardware dysfunction caused by an external action rather than the result of aggressive behavior.

The following are some of the most prevalent network vulnerabilities:

  • Systems or firmware that has not been upgraded
  • Hardware or software installed improperly
  • Improperly used hardware or software
  • Physical security may be inadequate or absent entirely
  • Passwords that are not secure
  • Operating system or network-related design flaws in a device

Although having a vulnerability does not ensure that your network will be attacked, it does make it easier for hackers to gain access.

Various Kinds of Network Security

There are different types of network security, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. Understanding the various network security components allows you to choose the right option for your business.

Antivirus and Anti-malware Software

This software is designed to prevent, detect and remove malicious software from your devices. Anti-virus and anti-malware software are self-explanatory: they aid in the prevention of malware and viruses from affecting your computer's hardware.

Mobile Device Security

Protecting mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets, from unlawful access is known as mobile device security. Another important tool in the fight against malware and hackers is to secure your phone. This protects your phone from malware or hackers who want to steal information stored inside the system of your smartphone. The following are some common methods for securing a mobile device: 

- Install a mobile security software 

- Create a lock code 

- Back up data

Behavioral Analytics

By monitoring the activity within a network, behavioral analytics can detect anything that may be suspicious and any possible threats. Additionally, this tool can help to improve network security as a whole. This security measure uses machine learning algorithms to identify malicious activity on a network.

Application Security

Application security is securing applications from malware, viruses and other security threats. The ability to test application security features is a significant step forward for action security. This determines whether an application is secure to use or if it needs upgrading to function properly.

Email Security

Email security is the practice of preventing email messages from being accessed or shared without authorization. They might also use it to distribute malware to a user. The protection of emails against leaking. This approach helps users avoid unwanted emails and ensures that emails are delivered to the correct address.

Web Security

Web security is the process of protecting websites from malicious attacks. It's important to note that network security is an ever-evolving field. As new technologies are developed, new vulnerabilities and threats will emerge. It's essential to stay up-to-date on the latest news in network security in order to keep your organization safe.

Wireless Security

The act of safeguarding data that is transmitted over the air. It's essential because it prevents anyone from interception of data as it travels between devices. Wireless security must safeguard computers against unlawful access. Because WIFI security is popular among wireless networks that are vulnerable to dangers and open access, this is an example of wireless security.

Endpoint Security

Endpoint security is essential because it can be a final barrier against attacks. Endpoint security refers to the process of protecting devices that connect to a network or securing specific devices like laptops or smartphones. Desktops and laptops are especially vulnerable threats, which is why endpoint security must be adequate to stop an attack before it takes over an end-user's device.

Network Access Control

NAC is a system implemented to protect networks from unauthorized access by controlling who can connect, what devices they can use, and how long. By combining endpoint security with system authentications and enforcing network policy, NAC provides increased safety for users on secure networks.

Virtual Private Network

A VPN, or virtual private network, is a secure connection between two devices using a public network like the internet. Workplaces often use them to protect sensitive company information from being seen by the general public. It can also help prevent your employees' browsing activities from being accessed by other users on public WIFI.

Network Segmentation

Regarding network security, network segmentation separates a network into smaller subnets to enhance security and performance. Regarding network security, network segmentation is the creation of subsets that allow for system performance improvements and improvement within a network security system.

Data Loss Prevention

A data loss prevention system is a security measure that aims to prevent leaks of sensitive information. This can be delivered as software or tools for backing up data that has been lost. It also ensures that specific data does not get into the hands of unauthorized individuals who might utilize it for their purposes.

What is Network Firewall Security?

Firewalls are software programs that, among other things, prevent unauthorized access to private networks linked to the internet, particularly intranets. The network's only traffic is permitted via firewall rules, which limit any additional traffic attempting to connect to the network. Firewalls operate as a communications link between internal and external devices at the core of a network.

A network firewall is an application that analyzes each incoming message and rejects those that do not meet the defined security requirements. A firewall allows users to access desired resources while keeping undesirable people, hackers, viruses, worms, or other harmful programs out of the protected network if correctly set up.

Significance of Network Firewall Security

A computer's security is not dependent on whether or not it has a firewall. If a device's publicly addressable IP, for example, if it is directly connected via ethernet, any network service that is currently active will be visible to the outside world. Malware attacks may occur against any network that connects to the internet. Firewalls are not required to make these networks vulnerable. For example:

Some malware interferes with your hardware by utilizing your internet to send information elsewhere without you knowing.

Some malware is created to access your network and steal sensitive information, like credit card or bank account numbers, and other data types, like customer lists.

Exploits, rootkits, and even adware are all designed to wreak havoc on a system or cause networks to collapse.

External networks and data storage leave room for possible security breaches, so businesses should invest in firewalls to ensure full-spectrum protection. Clear computer security plans with defined policies help maintain a safe network. Firewalls in the cloud era can perform much more than just protect a network. They may also assist in guaranteeing that you have continuous network accessibility and access to cloud-based applications.

How Can Network Security Benefit You?

Organizations that connect networks and applications must put a premium on network security. It offers organizations and enterprises several benefits. Here are some examples:

Prevent Losing Your Data

While some cyber threats are created only to cause havoc and not steal data, your crucial systems could still be undermined in the process--making your data loss a by-product of the attack. To decrease this risk, perform consistent backups of your data and implement other network security measures. And if an unfortunate attack does happen, you'll be able to retrieve any lost info from your stored backups.

Keep Your Site Up And Running.

If you don't take measures to secure your network, potentially disastrous consequences could ensue, such as extended downtime that completely halts your business. A defence-in-depth approach to network security is the best way to protect against vulnerabilities. Using various cutting-edge network security techniques, you can reduce the risk of cyber-attacks and keep your services up and running.

Stay at The Top Of Your Game

Optimal network performance is essential for modern enterprises. Slow networks can be caused by hardware or software problems but may also result from ransomware, DoS attacks, or other online issues or threats. Effective network security guards against online security threats that could harm your network and ensures smooth company operation and optimal performance.

Defend Against Data Breaches

Data breaches are a massive problem for businesses as they can steal personal data, including trade secrets and source codes. A data breach could also result in significant regulatory fines and penalties, depending on factors such as your sector, location, and the data type affected. The best way to protect against a data breach is by ensuring that your network security is up to par so that no cyber threat or attack can get through.

Protect Your Company's Reputation

The reputation of your business is everything. It builds brand loyalty, strengthening consumer loyalty and increasing customers' lifetime value in engaging with your company. However, a severe cyber attack or public data leak could destroy all that hard work. Many clients could be worried about their information and choose to take their business elsewhere. Protect your firm by implementing a robust cybersecurity program - it will fortify your reputation and help ensure your company's success.

Tips For a Robust Network Security

As machine learning and automation progress, so does security response technology. Unfortunately, criminals are using these same innovations to their advantage. Therefore, it is paramount for businesses to have best practices in place--like solid policies and procedures--to maintain a well-rounded defense against possible threats.

Most successful IT companies utilize network security best practices to the greatest extent to secure their assets and protect themselves. The following are ten fundamental best practices every business should employ today to safeguard its operations. Remember that these efforts must be maintained for them to be effective. Furthermore, these methods should be monitored regularly to assess their efficacy and, as needed, adjusted if circumstances change.

Examine And Test The Network For Security Loopholes

To sustain a safe workplace, you need to be well informed. When IT professionals want to get an understanding of the security level in their company, they do an audit of the network. By auditing, they can identify possible issues that require improvement:

  • You can find unused or unnecessary applications running in the background that you can eliminate. This will help improve your computer's performance.
  • To ensure the security of your network, you'll want to regularly check the strength of your firewall and ensure its settings are up to date.
  • Assess the state of equipment, software and applications on networked servers.
  • Ensure that the security infrastructure is effective.
  • Determine the status of server backups.

Audits should not be a one-time occurrence but rather an activity that is repeated over time.

Review and Explain Safety Protocols to Everyone

Organizations need to be proactive about security by continuously examining and updating their policies. Unfortunately, many enterprises fail to do this or adequately explain these policies to IT staff and end users. An excellent way for IT professionals to keep up-to-date on changes is by following reference documents from organizations like the SANS Institute.

Implementing A Backup And Recovery Plan

Although unfortunate, enterprises have to accept that their environments will eventually be breached. They must back up operationally essential and highly sensitive data to protect themselves. Furthermore, as ransomware attacks become more common across industries, organizations need a recovery strategy that limits costs and minimize downtime.

Encrypt All The Data You Deem Important

Data encryption is essential for any organization that wants to keep its sensitive and most valuable information safe. Organizations should regularly assess data classification and encrypt data where necessary. In order to properly encrypt data, organizations should use strong encryption algorithms that have proved to be helpful. For businesses or employees who often travel and still need to access company files, VPNs provide an extra layer of security.

Run An Anti-Virus Software Update To Ensure It Is Up To Date.

One of the issues at the heart of many security vulnerabilities is a failure to have proper anti-virus or anti-malware software. However, this solution is also one of the easiest to fix. Security experts should check their system's anti-malware protection regularly to confirm that all devices are running with the most recent updates. Where possible, IT teams should automate patch management tasks.

Apply Access Controls To Restrict Access And Use Multifactor Authentication.

The first step to rightful access management is having the right policies in place to discern who gets access to which resources. Control over who can obtain information is imperative; privileged access is one way to do that. Another significant part of network security procedures is proper password management. You should change your passwords regularly, and they ought to be at least ten characters long. Password management tools can help make this process more seamless. Another important tool is multifactor authentication guarantees that only authentic user has access.

Develop And Implement A Security Governance Structure.

While compliance does not directly lead to security, it can help reduce risks through guidance. Organizations such as the Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council and the International Organization for Standardization lay out plans for establishing an organization with specific individuals managing security and responding to cybersecurity events. By understanding and playing to everyone's strengths within an IT organization, the team can more effectively manage risks and react quickly to incidents. Regularly assessing risk will help organizations determine where best to allocate resources and minimize downtime.

Train Your Users.

With phishing attacks on the rise, educating employees about data security is more important than ever. In a 2017 survey conducted by Dell, over 75% of respondents said they would share confidential information if circumstances were right. End users are especially susceptible to attack types that seem like normal communications. Cybercriminals are constantly finding new ways to exploit email and other platforms in order to make their scams seem more legitimate. As they become more successful, the chances of one of your employees falling for their trap also increases. 

To prevent this from happening, you need to educate your staff on a regular basis about the evolving threat landscape and your company's security policies. This should be seen as an integral part of your corporate culture.

Have A Security Infrastructure Maintenance System In Place.

Ongoing effort and regular checks are necessary to maintain a good security system. This, in turn, requires businesses to have procedures that constantly update and test their infrastructure against potential threats. Security systems should be monitored to make changes quickly when an incident occurs. Lastly, communication among IT staff about approved changes in policy or practice is essential for organizational cohesion.

Keep Up To Date.

One of the most important prerequisites for building network security best practices is treating it as an endeavor that requires constant effort. This includes remaining updated on changes in the threat landscape and comprehending how cybercriminals modify their approaches. Security personnel and IT professionals should stay abreast of advances in threat detection and prevention so they can utilize knowledge gained from past incidents to stop potential damage from future ones.

Business And Home Network Security

A secure network is crucial for any business that relies on digital data and systems. In addition to warding off external cyber threats, a strong network security protocol can streamline traffic, increase performance,  and enable the safe sharing of internal information between employees and data sources.

You can use many different tools to protect your networks from being hacked and taken down. They provide network security solutions that simplify complex processes and ensure comprehensive network security for your whole enterprise.

What Is a Network Security Policy?

The objective of a network security policy is to protect networking securities and architecture, as well as the data that goes through the network. This policy informs staff about how they can secure networks to avoid any potential breaches.

A well-written and executed network security policy not only provides assurance to partners and customers about data safety but may also be required as part of compliance with regulated industry standards, such as HIPAA (Healthcare Portability and Accountability Act), ISO 27001 or Sarbanes-Oxley.

What Is Included In A Network Security Policy?

A network security policy specifies who has access to which parts of the network and what activities they are permitted to do. It covers preventative measures for preventing data breaches and network outages, as well as how administrators will reduce risks. It's one of a number of computer security policies that must be maintained by an organization, including those that deal with acceptable device and network usage, email communications, mobile devices, and so on. The policy should be consistent with your company's resources, skills, and vulnerabilities.

The policy's message and tone should be a reflection of your company's culture. A more upbeat non-profit, for example, could use brighter colors and graphics, but a legal firm will be more formalized. Make it something people want to read by keeping it concise yet personable so that they're more likely to regularly remember and utilize the information.

Although it may seem daunting to create or follow network security policies, it does not need to be complicated. A simpler policy is better than none at all. Consider your policy document dynamic and ever-changing, along with the fluctuations of your network's context and content.

A policy may have these five sections:

This overview will quickly cover the most important aspects of network security in an easy-to-scan manner. Scope explains what the policy covers and doesn't cover and when it is utilized. The policy should include instructions for device passwords, networked hardware, network firewalls, logs, and security testing to be followed by both those who will use the policy and those who will enforce it.

A portion of the review and update timetable for the policy covers ensuring that both those in charge of putting it into effect and those to whom it applies to keep an eye on it so that it can adapt to changes in your network, as well as changes in the broader IT and cybersecurity environment.

What Progressions Can We Expect In Network Security?

Compliance is the current strategy for network security—what the auditor tells you you need to do. The emphasis isn't always on making the network more secure but on ensuring it meets newer standards like PCI-DSS. While this is the status quo, it isn't optimal for detecting new and emerging network and application security threats.

A new generation of security solutions is coming, and it's getting here quickly. With emerging technologies in network security, artificial intelligence (AI) is being integrated into the security space more than ever before. When properly tuned, AI can identify patterns much more quickly than humans can. For example, let's say there's a user who goes out for an afternoon coffee break and leaves their computer unlocked by accident. Consider an AI solution that can access your company's Active Directory and your user's local system to prevent this from happening. The software determines that the user's system is inactive and that they have left their workplace building. The AI software automatically locks the user's computer, notifying them of the change.

AI can protect against remote access by observing when a user's account is accessed from an unfamiliar IP address and blocking it. In other words, the employee's account would be deactivated until they return to their office or meet some other condition that allows them to reactivate their profile. AI might also take advantage of facial recognition software in order to identify people who are physically present in the workplace.

This technology is not only possible; it's where the network and software security industries are heading.

In the End

Today's businesses frequently distribute highly complicated corporate networks and need significant security. Because network security is so important for any IT business to keep its data secure. Network security is vital for any organization as it filters out possible dangers and unauthorized access to data. By having set network policies, you can guarantee that everyone adheres to the policy in your company and linked third parties. This way, security is standardized throughout the entire firm.

While methods to avoid these dangers changes, security basics always stay the same: keep your systems updated and have strong anti-virus software, educate employees, only allow ports and hosts you need on your firewall with a whitelist, and make passwords that are difficult to crack, follow the least-privilege model in IT operations, backup often, and always check for red flags in your system activity.

Although no one solution can keep your network safe from every type of threat, using the security methods mentioned in this guide will notably lower the chance of a successful attack. Remember, security is an ongoing process. As new dangers emerge, you'll need to change your security approach to stay ahead of the attackers. Stay up to speed on the most recent security threats and trends by keeping yourself informed about them. You may maintain a safe and secure network by following these suggestions.

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Haseeb Awan
CEO, Efani Secure Mobile

I founded Efani after being Sim Swapped 4 times. I am an experienced CEO with a demonstrated history of working in the crypto and cybersecurity industry. I provide Secure Mobile Service for influential people to protect them against SIM Swaps, eavesdropping, location tracking, and other mobile security threats. I've been covered in New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Mashable, Hulu, Nasdaq, Netflix, Techcrunch, Coindesk, etc. Contact me at 855-55-EFANI or haseebawan@efani.com for a confidential assessment to see if we're the right fit!

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