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In today’s age of digital transformation, it is becoming more and more essential to secure every aspect of our online presence and data. As the complexity of network-connected devices, services and networks themselves are increasing, vulnerabilities posed by these systems and the growing presence of sophisticated cyber-attackers is resulting in the securing of networks becoming ever-more difficult. Let’s take a look at what network security is and why it is so important for every business.

What is Network Security?

Network security is the process of taking preventative measures to protect data, network systems and related devices from external and internal threats such as unauthorised access, misuse, malfunction, modification, destruction or improper disclosure. Securing a network requires a complex combination of hardware devices such as firewalls, as well as software and cloud-based applications. In addition to these technology aspects of network security, it is also critical to consider the people and process-related aspects of securing your network.

Types of Security Threats

Many network security threats today are over the Internet, the most common include:

  • Viruses and associated malware, including worms, trojans, cryptolockers, spyware and phishing attacks,
  • Command & Control attacks,
  • Zero-day attacks, also called zero-hour attacks,
  • Network device Operating System vulnerabilities,
  • Password attacks used on network systems and services such as Brute-Force and dictionary attacks,
  • Distributed Denial of Service (DDOS) attacks,
  • Data interception and theft,
  • Identity theft through a range of methods, including social engineering.

Many of the above threats can seriously damage a businesses productivity or brand reputation, or in more severe cases, can even destroy a business. With the kind of cyber-threats faced by business networks in more recent times, network security is understandably considered one of the most important aspects of any modern security strategy.

Why is Network Security Important?

Recent evidence shows that increasingly, targeted attacks on corporate networks are being aimed at Small-to-Medium Businesses (SMB’s), as they represent “low-hanging fruit” for cyber-attackers. One of the most important aspects to consider with protecting your corporate network and data, is to implement a solid network security solution. Doing so helps businesses by:

  • Reducing the risk of falling victim to data theft and sabotage, as well as lessening the potential impact in the event of suffering from a breach.
  • Helping to protect workstations and end-user productivity by preventing malicious programs such as viruses, spyware and malware.
  • Ensuring that shared data is kept secure from both external attack, but also that adequate information security governance measures are taken to limit access from internal users.
  • Managing traffic efficiently – systems exposed to a high level of traffic are more prone to network security attacks. So, for an improved user experience without putting a website or system at risk, reliable network security is important.
  • Enhancing network performance – with reduced downtime and lessened cases of slow-down for end-users, businesses can enjoy higher network performance, improve connectivity of their staff both in the office and external, whilst boosting their productivity.

Common Network Security Measures

There is no single system that will offer complete protection against every threat to your network, so it is important to remember to use multiple layers of security. Some common security measures for businesses include:

  • Implementing complexity and routine password changing policies to protect PC’s, mobile devices, and online accounts, as well as securing access to business networks, programs and specific applications.
  • Developing an Information Security Policy and associated threat response procedure to identify the corporate response and overarching policies towards network security.
  • Introducing Multi-Factor or 2-Factor Authentication services to offer greater security of critical cloud-based services such as Office 365, Google, or online banking.
  • Use of network security services such as Virtual Private Network (VPN) to offer corporate services to remote or telecommuting workers.
  • Identity and Access Management solutions that provide seamless integration of online credentials and access to corporate services, reducing complexity of account management.
  • Next-Generation Firewalls that provide network perimeter anti-malware and anti-virus features, Intrusion Detection and Prevention Services, or similar internal network controls.
  • Anti-virus, anti-spyware and anti-malware software, usually in the form of purchased software suites that block intrusive or intentionally malicious code from execution.
  • Management of network systems through managed services which involves the professional patching, monitoring and maintenance of devices.
  • Encryption of local and cloud-based storage systems and services such as email, where corporate data is protected from interception and theft through the use of cryptographic measures.

The Advantages of Proper Network Security

Apart from reducing the potential occurrence and impacts from data breaches and hacks, there are other advantages gained from improving your security through enhancing network security. Network security will:

  • Save you money in the long run, as it is always more cost-effective to be proactive than reactive.
  • Gain greater insight in to the workings of your business and methods of restricting access to sensitive data.
  • Improve operational efficiency, as a network that’s safer and more streamlined is one that’s more productive.
  • Enhance governance and compliance, as it is commonplace within most industries to have some form of a regulatory body setting cybersecurity requirements and guidelines, which may be costly for business owners if their network is breached.
  • Help to minimises catastrophic events relating to data loss or theft.

A robust and multifaceted network security solution that leverages multiple lines of defence, with a clearly-defined information security policy and threat response should be considered the baseline target for enhancing your security posture.

If you are concerned about your network security, contact Interscale today and find out how we can protect your investment, both in the initial architecture of systems, as well as ongoing management of the environment. From network design to managed security services and vulnerability testing, we can help keep your business safe and secure.

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