We live in an age of information. Businesses these days are more digitally advanced than ever, and as technology improves, organizations’ security postures must be enhanced as well. Now, with many devices communicating with each other over wired, wireless, or cellular networks, network security is an important concept. In this article, we will explore what is network security and its key features.

What is Network Security?

Network Security protects your network and data from breaches, intrusions, and other threats. This is a vast and overarching term that describes hardware and software solutions as well as processes or rules and configurations relating to network use, accessibility, and overall threat protection.

Network Security involves access control, virus and antivirus software, application security, network analytics, types of network-related security (endpoint, web, wireless), firewalls, VPN encryption, and more.

Why is it important?

Network security is important for home networks as well as in the business world. Most homes with high-speed internet connections have one or more wireless routers, which could be exploited if not properly secured.  A solid network security system helps reduce the risk of data loss, theft, and sabotage.

Benefits of Network Security

Network Security is vital in protecting client data and information, keeping shared data secure, and ensuring reliable access and network performance as well as protection from cyber threats. A well-designed network security solution reduces overhead expenses and safeguards organizations from costly losses that occur from a data breach or other security incident. Ensuring legitimate access to systems, applications and data enable business operations and delivery of services and products to customers.

network security

How does it work?

The elements of a complete, multilayered security architecture that implements network security across an organization fall into two general categories: access control and threat control.

  • Access Control: Network security starts with access control. If bad actors gain access to a network, they can surveil traffic and map infrastructure. Once they have mapped infrastructure and applications, they can launch a DDoS attack or insert malware. Access control restricts the movement of bad actors throughout the network.
  • Threat Control: Even with access control in place, problems can arise. For instance, a bad actor may compromise an employee’s credentials to gain entry. Thus the need for threat control, which operates on traffic that is already permitted. Threat control prevents the actions of bad actors from doing damage within the network. Threat control technologies begin with the firewall and load balancer. These devices protect the network from DoS/DDoS attacks. Next, IDS/IPS counters known attacks traveling through the network. Finally, unknown malware objects traveling through the network are captured with sandbox technologies, while anomalies in network traffic that may be symptoms of a threat are caught with NTA/NDR.

What are the key tools of network security?

Now let’s take a look at some of the key tools you can secure your network.

  • Firewall: A firewall establishes a barrier between the trusted and the untrusted areas of a network. Thus, a firewall performs access control and micro-segmentation based on IP subnets. The same firewall may also perform more granular segmentation, known as micro-segmentation.
  • Network Access Control: Not every user should have access to your network. To keep out potential attackers, you need to recognize each user and each device. Then you can enforce your security policies. You can block noncompliant endpoint devices or give them only limited access. This process is network access control (NAC).
  • Intrusion Prevention Systems: An intrusion prevention system (IPS) scans network traffic to actively block attacks. Secure IPS appliances do this by correlating huge amounts of global threat intelligence to not only block malicious activity but also track the progression of suspect files and malware across the network to prevent the spread of outbreaks and reinfection.
  • Antivirus and Antimalware Software: Antivirus and antimalware software protect an organization from a range of malicious software, including viruses, ransomware, worms, and trojans. The best software not only scans files upon entry to the network but continuously scans and tracks files.
  • Virtual Private Networks (VPN): A virtual private network encrypts the connection from an endpoint to a network, often over the Internet. This way it authenticates the communication between a device and a secure network, creating a secure, encrypted “tunnel” across the open internet.
  • Sandbox:  A sandbox is similar to an IDS/IPS, except that it does not rely on signatures. A sandbox can emulate an end-system environment and determine if a malware object is trying, for example, to execute port scans.
  • Cloud security: Cloud security is a broad set of technologies, policies, and applications applied to defend online IP, services, applications, and other imperative data. It helps you better manage your security by shielding users against threats anywhere they access the internet and securing your data and applications in the cloud.

network security

Network security for businesses and consumers

Network security should be a high priority for any organization that works with networked data and systems. In addition to protecting assets and the integrity of data from external exploits, network security can also manage network traffic more efficiently, enhance network performance and ensure secure data sharing between employees and data sources.

There are many tools, applications, and utilities available that can help you to secure your networks from attack and unnecessary downtime. Forcepoint offers a suite of network security solutions that centralize and simplify what are often complex processes and ensure robust network security is in place across your enterprise.