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What Is Network Security?

Network Security Definition

Network security is made up of a variety of applications, configurations, and tools implemented to protect the integrity of your network from unauthorized use. To infiltrate the vulnerabilities of your network, attacks can come in many forms and from various sources. 

The different types of network security help protect your data from cyberattacks as well as ensure access to authorized users so they can perform their work effectively. Network security technologies are designed to target individual threats and prevent disruption or damage to the underlying infrastructure of your network. Understanding the fundamentals of network security will allow you and your company to maintain a safe and reliable working environment.

Why Do Enterprises Need Network Security?

Security attacks are a global problem and occur on a daily basis. Some do not cause major damage and can be easily remedied. However, there are several that have been devastating to individuals, companies, and even governments. 

Vulnerabilities in your network security give hackers an opening to do untold damage to your network while exposing potentially sensitive and confidential information. Network security protection has been developed to implement measures to protect your computer network's data from being lost, stolen, or manipulated.

Benefits of Network Security

Network security provides advantages for various stakeholders, including your customers and employees.

Network Security Benefits for Your Internal Operations

Network security in networking also helps ensure that your internal infrastructure operates as it should. When an attacker is allowed access to sensitive systems due to a network security vulnerability, they can do more than simply steal customer data. They can throw a digital wrench in your operations.

As an example within the context of the traditional network security definition, consider the effect of a ransomware attack. All a hacker needs to do is get their chosen ransomware into any area of your network, and they can cut this area off, including its resources, from your system. Even if only one computer is affected, the ripple effect could pause operations for untold lengths of time and erode confidence in your organization, both internally and externally.

Network Security Benefits for Your Customers

Network security in computer networking is essential to protecting the information of clients, as well as any data your organization shares with other entities.

Customers trust you with their data. Have you ever given your wallet to someone, asking them to go buy something? What about a stranger? Maybe not. Your customers have, in effect, given you their “wallets,” meaning they have entrusted their most sensitive information with you. By securing your network, you protect those customers, earning their loyalty.

Network Security Trends

There are various network security types, and they include:

  1. Zero-trust security: This involves the principle of “never trust, always verify” when deciding who and what can access your network and the methods to use to make sure people and systems are what they claim to be. Because it questions all connections, zero trust has become vital for network security protection. For example, a network security key on a laptop is an example of zero-trust security. But what does network security mean? It is the code or password to access a network.
  2. Cybersecurity education: Organizations are realizing that the best way to wage war against cyberattackers is to equip their “soldiers” with knowledge. This involves teaching all employees the red flags they should look out for and what they can do to avoid threats.
  3. Incorporating artificial intelligence (AI): AI systems can both detect and mitigate threats, as well as send automated alerts regarding attacks. This takes some of the burden off the shoulders of IT teams.

Top 5 Network Security Tools and Techniques

What is network security without a system of checks and balances? Because organizations face all sorts of threats every day, it is imperative that you employ network security strategies to keep your infrastructure safe. These are some of the most commonly used tools in network security today:

  1. Metasploit: Metasploit enables security scans and safety assessments that strengthen your network.
  2. Nessus: Nessus is a tool a company can use to identify and fix vulnerabilities, bugs, and errors in applications, operating systems, and computers.
  3. Argus: Argus provides a deep analysis of your network and its traffic.
  4. Wireshark: Wireshark analyzes the data that gets sent between users and devices, checking it for threats.
  5. Aircrack: Aircrack provides a suite of Wi-Fi security tools.

How Does Network Security Work?

A computer network provides communication and enables the sharing of information to multiple users within a network. Network security technologies work within several layers to protect your network as a whole against any potential threats. 

Networking and security include three main areas: physical, technical, and administrative.

Physical Network Security

Physical network security controls are put in place to stop unauthorized personnel from accessing components of the network. For example, routers and cable cupboards can be protected by implementing biometric authentication and security locks.

Technical Network Security

Technical network security protects the data that is within the network. This type of network security protection prevents data from being maliciously corrupted from within the network and any secure information from getting out without proper authorization.

Administrative Network Security

Administrative network security controls the level of access for each user within the network. Processes and policies are set to limit or allow access and control each user’s behavior on the network. This security will also control the amount and level of changes the IT staff can make to the infrastructure of the network.

What Types of Threats Does Network Security Prevent?

Network security works to safeguard the data on your network from a security breach that could result in data loss, sabotage, or unauthorized use. The system is designed to keep data secure and allow reliable access to the information by the various users on the network. 

Network security solutions also help businesses provide information, services, and goods safely and reliably to their customers. There are a variety of threats that could potentially harm your network, each targeting a different part of your system. 

DDoS Attacks

A distributed denial-of-service attack is a targeted attempt to disrupt the flow of normal traffic to a server, network, or service by overwhelming it with unexpected traffic in the form of illegitimate requests. As the server tries to respond to the barrage of requests, its resources are used up until it can no longer handle legitimate traffic. This attack prevents normal traffic to a network by using compromised computer systems to block the information from reaching its destination.

Trojan Virus

A Trojan virus is designed to look like a helpful program, but when used, it opens a door for a hacker to access a computer's system. The Trojan virus can locate and activate other malware on the network, steal data, or delete files.

Malware

Malware is a term that covers a variety of malicious software that computer systems and networks can be exposed to such as Trojans, spyware, worms, adware, and others. Each type of malware is meant to cause damage to your network through a range of actions—from accessing sensitive personal information to stealing financial details.

Computer Worms

Computer worms are a type of malware that can operate on their own, without a host program, to slow the processes of your network. These worms eat up your computer’s processing power and the network’s bandwidth to cause the efficiency of your network to decline.

Spyware

Spyware acts as a spy within the data of your computer network. It gathers information about a specific user, person, or organization and potentially shares that information with a third party without any consent from the user.

Adware

Adware works to gain information about you as a consumer and will redirect search requests to advertising websites. It will collect data for marketing purposes and then customize advertisements based on the information gathered from your buying and search history.

Botnets

A botnet is malware consisting of potentially millions of bots that infect multiple computers, which can then be controlled remotely. This robot network is used to make large-scale attacks on numerous devices, simultaneously performing updates and changes without the consent or previous knowledge of the users.

Types of Network Security Protections

Network security protection includes a variety of tools, configurations, and policies implemented on your network to prevent any intrusion into your security. The fundamentals of network security include detection, protection, and response. Resources are set up to help you analyze traffic on your network and detect any potential threats before they infect your system. Configurations are set in place to protect your network from intruders and provide you with the tools to properly respond to and resolve any problems that are identified.

Firewall

Firewalls filter the traffic on your network. They work to prevent and block unauthorized internet traffic and manage authorized access within your network.

Network Segmentation

Network segmentation divides a network into multiple sections, and each section then acts as their own individual networks. The administrator is able to control the access to each smaller network while improving performance, localizing issues, and boosting security.

Access Control

Access control gives you the ability to grant or deny access to individual users based on their responsibilities within your network. This will define a person or group's access to a specific application and system on the network and prevent any unauthorized use.

Remote Access VPN

A remote access virtual private network (VPN) provides integrity and privacy of information by utilizing endpoint compliance scanning, multi-factor authentication (MFA), and transmitted data encryption. The remote access VPN is typically provided for telecommuters, extranet consumers, or mobile users.

Zero-Trust Network Access (ZTNA)

The Zero Trust Network grants specific access to an individual user based on the exact role they play within the network. Each individual is only granted access to certain processes or applications they need to complete their job successfully.

Email Security

Email security is set up to prevent users from unknowingly providing sensitive information or allowing access to the network via a malware-infected email. This security feature will warn or block emails containing potentially dangerous threats.

Data Loss Prevention (DLP)

DLP is a network security technology that aids in preventing sensitive information from accidentally being leaked outside of the network by users. It works to prevent the misuse or compromise of data to protect the network from exposure to outside entities.

Benefits of Network Security

Network security is essential for safeguarding client data and information. It maintains the security of shared data, guarantees dependable network performance, and protects against online threats. An effective network security solution keeps overhead costs at a minimum and safeguards businesses from losses brought on by a data breach or other security incident. 

Ensuring legitimate access to systems, applications, and data through network security makes business operations smooth and that services and goods are provided to clients in a timely manner.

Network Security Protection Trends

There are several network security developments that have been moving the industry forward. The most current advancements in network security management include:

  1. Zero-trust security: This is a security model that encourages businesses to take a "never trust, always verify" approach to security, meaning they should not trust any user, entity, device, or application on the network.
  2. A focus on education: Training staff on cybersecurity best practices, including how to spot vulnerability in network security, is one of the best ways to prevent data breaches. 
  3. Focusing on incident detection and response (IDR): IDR is a proactive security strategy in which businesses are always on the alert for irregular behavior. It is critical to have an incident mitigation plan in place, so that once an event is discovered, you can execute the proper response promptly and efficiently.

Top 5 Network Security Tools & Techniques

The top five network security tools include:

  1. Wireshark: Wireshark provides an overview of your live network. It is also a very popular packet sniffer, meaning it examines the contents of data packets to identify threats.
  2. Metasploit: This Rapid7 network security program allows users to scan over 1,500 processes. It also helps businesses perform various safety evaluations and enhance overall network security.
  3. Nessus: Nessus locates and fixes vulnerabilities found in computers, operating systems, and applications, including those that are missing or lacking patches.
  4. Aircrack: Aircrack, a set of tools for breaking WEP and WPA encryption, offers powerful, internet-based solutions for mobile device security.
  5. Snort: Snort is an open-source IDS that works with all hardware and operating systems. It examines protocols, searches data, and identifies attacks.

Network Security Policy

A network security policy outlines an organization's network security environment. It also specifies how the security policies are applied throughout the network. In addition, a network security policy establishes rules for network access.

How a Network Security Policy Management Improves Business Security

The network's integrity and safety are governed by security policies. They include guidelines for connecting to the internet, using the network, adding or changing devices or services, and more. These rules only work when they are put into practice. By ensuring that policies are streamlined, uniform, and enforced, network security policy management helps enterprises maintain compliance and security.

How Fortinet Can Help?

Attacks on your network can be devastating for the safety of your employees, customers, and your business. A comprehensive network security system helps to prevent such threats and attacks from penetrating your defenses.

FortiDDoS

FortiDDoS is an easy-to-use tool that can help you constantly analyze your system and keep it protected. It can simultaneously monitor hundreds of thousands of parameters with minimal false-positive detections. A 100% security processor provides defense against every DDoS attack, including bulk volumetric, Layer 7 application, and secure sockets layer/Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (SSL/HTTPS) attacks.

FortiWeb

FortiWeb is a security solution that will keep up with the rapidly changing web applications on your network. The system will block threats or malicious bots while still allowing legitimate users to access the information available to them.

FortiGate: Network Firewall Security

Fortinet’s FortiGate NGFWs exceed the industry standard in providing superior protection, as recognized for the 10th time in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Network Firewalls. FortiGate solutions combine all of the various firewall permutations into a single, integrated platform, including new SD-WAN functionality. Its single-pane-of-glass management offers a simplified experience for a broad array of use cases, as well as flexible deployment across all network edges. Fortinet’s security-driven approach to networking enables security to be built into every aspect of the network, from the ground level up.

FAQs

What is network security?

Network security is made up of a variety of applications, configurations, and tools implemented to protect the integrity of your network from unauthorized use.

Why do enterprises need network security?

Vulnerabilities in your network security give hackers an opening to do untold damage to your network while exposing potentially sensitive and confidential information. Network security protection has been developed to implement measures to protect your computer network's data from being lost, stolen, or manipulated.

How does network security work?

A computer network provides communication and enables the sharing of information to multiple users within a network. Network security technologies work within several layers to protect your network as a whole against any potential threats.