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What Is Network Security?

Network security uses technology, policies and processes to protect organizations from cyber attacks.

June 2, 2021 5 minute read

Network security involves using software, hardware, policies and processes to protect your IT infrastructure. The process includes safeguarding data transmission, improving visibility into what’s happening on your network, decreasing your attack surface and reducing your cyberthreat risk.

Network security covers your entire connected infrastructure, from core applications and systems to the very edge of the IT perimeter. The process involves protecting your infrastructure and traffic from external cyberattacks, preventing unauthorized access to all network resources, and ensuring authorized users have secure access to the assets they require to work effectively.

What is network security and how does it work?

Network security works through multiple layers of defense against cyberthreats. Each layer of security across the organization has specific controls and policies that enable authorized users to access the applications, resources and tools they need to work effectively.

Network security begins with establishing an effective IT security policy that includes:

Enforcement: Network security relies on enforcement to analyze all traffic and maintain the availability, confidentiality, and integrity of the data and systems on your network. You can then apply controls and deploy technology to secure every layer of your network, from authenticating users and controlling their access levels to detecting malware and monitoring for threats. 

Auditing: Auditing your network security enables you to check the enforcement measures that are in place against your security policy. This encourages your network security to improve continually by adjusting the policy and strategy towards areas that need improvement. Auditing is also crucial to meeting data and privacy regulations like the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) and the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

What types of network security are available?

There are a wide range of technology solutions available to keep the devices, traffic and users accessing your network secure. 

Some of the most common include:

Access Control: Network access control (NAC), or simply "access control," helps you manage which users are authorized to access your network. It enables your security teams to recognize every user and device that attempts to access the network. You can then deploy policies to verify users or block noncompliant devices.

Antivirus and Anti-Malware: Malicious software like ransomware, spyware, Trojan horses, viruses and worms pose a significant threat to network security. It’s crucial to discover this traffic as soon as it attempts to enter a network and prevent it from doing any harm. Antivirus and anti-malware software scans incoming traffic for potentially malicious files and continuously tracks the network for abnormal activity, removes suspicious files and fixes the damage.

Application Security: The software you rely on to run your business needs to be protected and updated at all times. Applications can easily present holes and vulnerabilities that hackers can exploit to gain access to your network and launch a cyberattack. You need to ensure all software is updated as soon as patches become available and use hardware and processes to close potential security holes immediately.

Behavioral Analysis: To understand whether your network is at risk, you first need to understand and define normal behavior. After setting a baseline of normal activity, you can then use behavioral analytics tools to automatically discover anything out of the ordinary that could pose a threat. Your security team can then explore the threat for potentially malicious activity and block and remediate the threat.

Data Loss Prevention (DLP): Your users remain one of the biggest threats to the security of your network. DLP technology stops employees from extracting and sharing sensitive corporate data outside your network.

Firewalls: A firewall creates a barrier between your trusted network and untrusted external sources, such as traffic from the internet. You can define rules that allow your firewall to decide whether to allow or block incoming traffic. Next-generation firewalls provide deeper visibility of your network and evolve with the pace of the threat landscape, ensuring constant protection against the latest attack vectors.

Intrusion Prevention System (IPS): An IPS monitors your network for abnormal or irregular behavior and malicious activity then takes action to prevent damage to your data and users. It also sends information about the attack to your system admins, who can then close potential access points and configure firewalls to prevent further threats.

Network Segmentation: Network segmentation divides your network into smaller sections, also known as subnets. Each segment acts as an individual network, which gives your security teams greater control and visibility over incoming traffic.

Security Information and Event Management: SIEM software collects data from across your infrastructure to analyze and categorize security incidents, such as failed logins and malware activity. It sends alerts and reports on these events to your security team, who can identify and respond to potential security threats. You can also integrate Security Orchestration, Automation, and Response (SOAR) to keep pace with evolving threats.

Learn more about how World Wide Technology can help your company improve its network security.

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