The world is becoming more digital every day. Businesses are finding new ways to leverage data analytics, IoT devices, and cloud-based software to drive efficiency and produce value as a result of these innovations. As a result, the volume and importance of data continue to expand. The tradeoff for all this growth is increased risk. All companies must design their information systems with security in mind to reduce the risk of breaches and other cyber threats.
Network security is one important aspect above all others when it comes to keeping your business safe from hackers and cybercriminals. Read on to learn more about network security issues and why your business should take it seriously.
What is network security?
Network security is the practice of protecting computer networks and data from malicious activity. This can include anything from data theft to destruction. A network is made up of interconnected devices, such as computers, servers, and wireless networks. As networks become more complicated and enterprises rely more on them to operate, security issues become more important. As threat actors develop new methods to attack these increasingly complex networks and steal data, security methods must also evolve.
Achieving this starts with strong network security architecture. Network security architecture refers to the design and implementation of a network’s security systems. It includes a wide variety of technologies and techniques, like encryption, firewalls, employee training, and more. The specific technologies and techniques vary depending on the exact network security architecture in place.
Network security is also a process and not an endpoint. It requires continual attention and support to remain effective and secure.
Why network security is important
Network security is one of the most important aspects of a company’s cybersecurity plan. A well-designed network security solution eases overhead costs by safeguarding organisations from costly losses due to data breaches and other security incidents while ensuring reliable access and network performance. It also protects clients’ data and info from cyber threats. A network security solution keeps shared data safe and ensures reliable access and network performance.
Data is essential to the continual operation of your business and its future growth. Network security threats can lead to serious consequences, from prolonged downtime while a data breach is dealt with, loss of reputation and business, to legal and regulatory fines:
Operational disruption: A network without adequate security is at risk of being disrupted. Devices and software are vulnerable to viruses, malware, and cyber attacks, preventing them from operating properly. Businesses as well as personal networks rely on networks for most internal and external communications.
Financial risk: An individual or business that handles private or sensitive information must safeguard it. Data breaches can result in fines, compensation, and repairs for victims. Because of data breaches, a company’s reputation can be harmed and it may be sued. According to IBM, the average cost of a data breach rose to $4.35 million in 2022 from $4.24 million in 2021.
Regulatory compliance: Many nations’ governments establish network security guidelines for businesses to follow. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the Australian Privacy Act are two examples. Fines, bans, and even imprisonment may result from violations of these regulations.
A strong cyber security foundation is established by adhering to several standards and frameworks. Certification organisations, governments, and industries have created sets of rules, procedures, and structures to build, deploy, and maintain information security. The ISO 27001 (ISMS) standard from ISO International, the Information Security Manual and the Essential Eight from the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) are examples of popular standards.
How does network security work?
There are a variety of software and hardware tools used to enforce network security. Preventing unauthorised access into or between parts of a network is the objective of network security. The cybersecurity team determines strategies and policies to ensure the safety of an organisation’s network and help it to comply with security standards and regulations. Every individual on the network must comply with these security policies, as every location where data can be accessed by an authorised user is also a location where data can be hacked.
Types of network security tools
It is necessary to employ multiple security methods to ensure robust protection. A variety of network security policies and tools are available. The following is a list of common network security tools and software:
Anti-virus software is one of the most well-known network security tools. It scans and inspects computer data for viruses and other forms of malicious code. It then deletes or neutralises the threats to keep your data safe.
Anti-spam systems are used to stop spam emails from ever reaching your inbox. They use a wide variety of techniques to identify, block, and delete spam emails.
Access control limits access to network applications and systems to users or devices that aren’t sanctioned by administrators.
Firewalls are used to control and monitor access to your network. They block malicious activities while allowing legitimate communications to pass through unharmed.
Application security monitors and protects applications that organisations use to run their businesses. Modern malware threats usually target open-source code and containers that organisations utilise to build software and applications.
IDS and IPS systems are designed to detect malicious activity on your network. They scan your network traffic for threats and are able to respond to some threats by blocking them in real-time.
SSL encryption is used to encrypt connections between a user’s device and servers to prevent eavesdropping and data theft.
Virtual private networks (VPNs) are used to create private connections to remote networks and servers. They are often used to access sensitive data remotely.
Cloud security add-ons from cloud providers provide security features for safeguarding data within the cloud.
Multi-factor authentication (MFA) is an increasingly utilised network security solution that requires two or more factors to verify a user’s identity, usually via one-time security codes.
Security information and event management (SIEM) monitors data from applications and network hardware for suspicious activity. When an anomaly is detected, the SIEM system alerts the organisation and takes other appropriate action.
Mobile device security has become an important aspect of network security as businesses rely on them. It is critical to monitor and control which mobile devices connect to a network and what they do once connected to ensure network security.
Zero trust network access security controls who can have access to the network and takes the approach all users should only have the network access control and permissions that they require to fulfil their role.
Best practices for network security
No network security system is 100% foolproof so it is vital to implement network protection practices to further protect your network and data against malicious activity.
Employee security awareness training is important to help employees understand the threats they face and what they can do to mitigate them. Most data breaches occur due to human error, and employees are targeted in social engineering threats such as phishing attacks, whereby an email that appears to be from a trusted source tricks users into revealing login credentials or other sensitive data.
Not installing the latest security updates leaves your network open to being exploited. Patch management works by assessing your network to see what software is installed and what updates are required. These updates are then installed to help keep your network secure.
Data backup is designed to help you retain access to your data in the event of a disaster, which include threat actors who gain access to your network. Some data backups are synced with remote servers so that you can access your data from anywhere. A good data backup strategy can give you peace of mind and save you from data loss.
Data encryption is used to protect sensitive data from cybercriminals by making it unreadable. Data encryption can be implemented at various points in the data lifecycle, such as when generating and storing data, when transferring data between locations, or when accessing data.
When implemented properly, these practices can help minimise the impact of network security breaches. They can also assist with limiting the damage caused by any breaches that do happen. However, they are not a substitute for network security systems. Instead, they are complementary practices that can help minimise risk and harm if network security fails.
Get network security with the experts who care
Network security is crucial in safeguarding client information and data, protecting shared data from cyber threats, preserving network performance by lowering overhead expenses, and reducing costly data losses resulting from data breaches. The network security specialists at INTELLIWORX have the expertise and solutions that help to keep your networks secure and your business data safe.