What is Network Security: An introduction to Network Security

By Michael Warne 06-Jun-2022
What is Network Security: An introduction to Network Security

Organisations are more advanced today than ever before. Most exchanges of data and communication take place over wireless networks. Without any walls or security measures, your data is in danger of being stolen by malicious third parties.

What is Network Security?

Network security plays a major role in every organisation regardless of size, industry or infrastructure. It refers to the security that networks require against unauthorised access and risks. Network administrators and cybersecurity experts are responsible for adopting preventive measures that keep their organisation’s data from potential threats, whether they are large or small.

There are different measures to be taken for different types of threats. If network security is one of your career interests, you should know the types of threats, measures you can take and how infosec can become your new career.

Why is Network Security Important?

Information security is fundamental for an organisation as it has a lot depending on it.

  1. Smooth operations and functioning: Cyberattacks affect the workflow and can hamper or steal valuable data. A small attack can disrupt work for a few hours while a large attack can cause blackouts that can cost the company huge amounts of data, money and time. Cybersecurity allows your organisation to function without any hindrances.
  2. Safe application operation: Applications can run smoothly thanks to network security. Cyberattacks can plant bugs or leak data from private applications. Network security prevents any such mishaps.
  3. Data protection: Data is the most valuable asset for any organisation today. Network security measures ensure your company’s data is always safe and secure.

Additional Read: Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP) Certification Path 2021

Types of Network Security Attacks:

Active attack:

An active attack is when an attacker tries to make changes to data either at a target site or on its way to the target site. These are often highly aggressive, unveiled attacks that are immediately obvious. Hacking and changing emails is one example of an active attack. These attacks attempt to lock users out of systems, destroy files, or gain illegal access to secure locations.

Passive attack:

A passive attack is mostly a hidden threat. The hacker monitors and scans systems for vulnerabilities without being detected. The goal here is to gain access to a network and steal information over time. Network security experts implement different methods and processes to secure network architecture. This helps detect threats before they enter your network.

Types of Network Security:

Access control

To keep attackers away from your network, make sure you have the control and means to block unauthorised users from accessing your network. This includes not only external parties but internal ones as well. Consider one of your employees is quitting the organisation. Make sure their remote access to the network is restricted and then blocked soon enough. Leaving their single node open and unmonitored will put you at risk against hackers and unwanted parties.

Even users who can access your network should meet certain criteria. This includes secure devices, locations or networks that they must use to connect with your main network.

Application security

This includes hardware, software and processes that can be used to identify and correct application vulnerabilities. Different platforms offer different applications to enable easier communication and data sharing across networks. App developers take several precautions to secure data shared across the application. But since this security information can easily be found once the application is launched, it is hard to ensure there won’t be any security breach.

Once this application is a part of your network, it is crucial to ensure absolute security so that your data can be shared and saved securely.

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A firewall is a system that manages and regulates network traffic based on predefined protocols. Simply put, it establishes a barrier between your trusted internal network and the internet. Firewalls can be both hardware-based and software-based. Hardware-based firewalls also serve other functions like acting as a DHCP server for the network.

Most personal computers use software-based firewalls so that they are protected against threats from the internet. Many routers that pass data between networks can function as firewalls, and simultaneously, many firewalls can function as routers.

A firewall also provides remote access to a network while adhering to secure authentication protocols.

Virtual private networks

A Virtual Private Network, or VPN, encrypts your connection from one endpoint to the network, almost always through the internet. This way, all data traffic is routed securely through an encrypted virtual data tunnel. A VPN disguises your IP address as you use the internet and keeps its location visible to everyone.

By using a VPN, administrators can authenticate the communication between a device and a secure network. You no longer need to worry about your cached data or any secure information being shared across data points. VPNs give you complete data security and privacy at all times.

Behavioural analytics

For their network security needs, organisations usually prefer specialists. A network security expert knows what normal network behaviour looks like. This is important because it helps administrators to identify any anomalies or user behaviour patterns that are not normal. Network security experts use behavioural analytics to spot network breaches.

Often it is the network security expert who establishes the behavioural norm and structure that is to be followed. Behavioural analytics tools are then used to automatically identify any activities that stray from this established behaviour. Hackers can mirror one or two behaviours, but not the entire sequence of events that have been put in place.

Wireless security

Internet users are increasingly using mobile devices for their needs. For this reason, cybercriminals and hackers are targeting mobile devices and apps. Besides, since wireless networks are relatively new, they are not as safe as wired networks. Therefore network security administrators need to constantly be in control of which devices can access the network. Data points that are no longer valid and nodes that have been physically removed from your organisation must also be restricted from accessing your organisation’s network.

Some ways to ensure security is to provide company-issued mobile devices and allow network access only through those devices. Another option is to mandate security measures to be met by all devices that act as nodes for your network.

Intrusion prevention system

Also known as intrusion detection and prevention systems, these appliances monitor unwanted activity within your network and log this information. In case your behavioural analysis software detects any abnormal activity, this system records the information and takes steps to stop the actions.

Intrusion prevention systems scan network traffic to identify and block attacks by correlating network activity signatures with known attack techniques within their databases.

Finding Network Security Jobs

As technology gets more advanced, cybercriminals are getting more sophisticated too. Preventive measures against cyber attacks need constant monitoring and upgrading. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, network security jobs will grow by 31%, faster than most other fields across industries.

If you want to switch careers and choose network security, online training can prepare you for your new professional goals. If you are new to the industry, a certification is a must before you start looking for jobs. However, if you have work experience and want to improve your skills and learn new security measures and trends, enroll in our training program to learn the desired skills. Go ahead, take the first step towards your new career today.

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Michael Warne

Michael Warne is a tech blogger and IT Certification Trainer at Koenig Solutions. She has an experience of 5 years in the industry, and has worked for top-notch IT companies. She is an IT career consultant for students who pursue various types of IT certifications.