This article is the first in the series of ‘Network Security Explained.’ Through this string of articles, we will focus on core areas of network security and its essential components. The first writeup of this series will serve as an introduction to network security, how it works, and benefits of practicing network security.
What Is Network Security?
Network security, in a broader sense, is a term that covers various technologies, processes, and devices. In the purest form, it is an activity that is designed to protect the usability, integrity, confidentiality, and accessibility of your data and network using both hardware and software technologies. Every organization, irrespective of size or industry, requires security for its network to defend it from ever-growing cyber threats. The effectiveness of network security is defined by the variety of threats that it prevents entering and spreading vulnerabilities in the network.
Today’s network architecture is complex and subject to frequent changes.The growing threat environment and the attackers continuously try to intrude the network and exploit vulnerabilities existing in devices, applications, database, user systems, endpoint devices, etc. To protect the various network-connected devices, many network security management tools and applications address every independent threat as well as regulatory non-compliance. If the network goes down for even a few minutes, it can result in massive disruption to the organization’s reputation and financial status. Hence, it is essential to ensure that these protection measures have been placed with efficacy.
How Does Network Security Work?
Network security should be considered in many layers across different levels in an organization. In the network security layers model, every layer can be vulnerable to cyberattack. Hence, network security policies, software, and hardware must be designed to address each area.
Traditionally, network security consists of three different controls – technical, physical, and administrative. The brief description of each of these controls is as follows –
Technical Network Security
Technical protection is two-fold – protecting data and systems from unauthorized access and protecting against malicious activities of intruders. Technical security controls also protects the data on the network, in transit, or out of the network and is still connected to it.
Physical Network Security
Physical security controls the unauthorized person from accessing the network components physically, such as cabling, routers, and more. To improve on controlled access, locks, biometric authentication, and other safety devices are essential in any organization.
Administrative Network Security
Administrative security controls are related to the administration of network policies and procedures. It defines policies that control user behavior, authentication process, level of access, and the implementation of changes in the infrastructure.
Network Security Payoffs
Network security has many advantages, and the most crucial is minimizing the risk of cyberattacks. Even after taking all the measures and practicing network security standards, it becomes difficult for many organizations to reach an acceptable level of security. Having the right network security tools may offload the security yoke and help organizations in protecting their clients’ IT infrastructure, including, systems, data, and network from various attacks.
In a collaborative workplace, it becomes challenging to keep files safe and free from infection. When information is shared among co-workers, partners, analysts, consultants, investors, bankers, and other third-party consultants, the security of data will be at stake. Network security, in place, will keep sensitive or confidential data from unauthorized access of different people. It ensures restricted access based on the requirement.
A cyber breach would leave a long-lasting impact on the overall performance of the organization creating financial and legal consequences, reputational loss, and embarrassment to the management. The organizations which have been scrutinized by regulatory standards such as Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX), North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC CIP), and General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) shall go through legal implications and penalties.
Network security offers a lot of other benefits which are less obvious but are critical to the organization’s business operations:
Network security assures safe browsing and prevents employees from accessing recreational websites, or websites that are not required for their work. Result being reduced wastage of time and increase in productivity. Moreover, websites with adult, gossip, racist, and gaming content are unsafe as they are the potential sources of malware, viruses, and other anomalies that can be easily spread across the network. By denying access to these websites, the organizations are at reduced risks of getting infected with unpredicted malware.
A secured network ensures efficient operation during peak time, which is critical for any organization. The problems of sluggish systems and downtime that consumes a greater share of the profits will be a thing of the past.
The organizations that adhere to the regulatory standards are aware of the penalties that they have to incur when not compliant. Network security in place can improve an organization’s compliance posture by monitoring data flow at all levels.
Retained Client Confidence
When clients are aware that their data and systems are secured, they feel confident in your security policies and standards. Retaining clients’ confidence helps in increasing the volume of sales and maintaining more extended business relations.
Replace Reaction by Being Proactive
Many organizations show concern about their network security but take action only when an incident happens. By using network security tools, the problems can be identified and attended on a priority basis before they can cause downtime or affect business operations.
No doubt, network security is crucial, and every organization should have structured policies and procedures to improve their physical and technical network security. In our second article of this series, ‘Network Security Explained’ we shall be listing out different types of network security.
Want to be a Network Defender?
Join the Bachelor of Science in Cybersecurity (BSCS) at EC-Council University.
The BSCS at ECCU is developed from a learning model based on Bloom’s Taxonomy of Thinking and is a mix of both business management and technically applied practical learning. The bachelor program allows you to avail three industry-level certifications by EC-Council, and include, Certified Network Defender (C|ND), Certified Ethical Hacker (C|EH) and Computer Hacking Forensic Investigator (C|HFI). A recognized bachelor’s degree from EC-Council University along with three certifications from the well-known credentialing body, EC-Council, will help you in setting a stable career path in cybersecurity as Network Defender.
About EC-Council University:
EC-Council University is dedicated to creating superior educational programs in the stream of cybersecurity. The programs will equip graduates with the knowledge to assess the latest IT security risks and expert skills to handle them successfully. The university offers Bachelor and Master programs at the degree level. The Bachelor of Science in Cybersecurity (BSCS) gives required exposure, builds cybersecurity skills, and develops leadership abilities that help any candidate to grow as a cybersecurity professional. Master of Science in Cybersecurity (MSCS) makes you an expert in desired skills and helps you in gaining domain knowledge to stand ahead in the competition.
ECCU is accredited by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC) which is a recognized accrediting agency by the U.S. Department of Education and is also an acknowledged member of the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).
ECCU has industry practitioners as faculty members who also serve as mentors for the students when they aspire to get into cybersecurity. The iLabs facility from the university helps in gaining hands-on practice for students.