What is network security and why is it important for businesses

What is network security?

Just as with information security, network security is an increasingly important topic for businesses. In recent years cyber attacks have caused enormous damage to businesses around the world. This is mainly due to the increasing prevalence of the Internet and the cloud, and higher sophisticated hacking techniques. Suffice it to say that, still in 2016, McAfee reported that attacks targeting hospitals generated about $100,000 in ransom payments in a single quarter. But cost also come from repairing damage and missed business opportunities due to the shut down of online services. In addition, the damage also affects companies’ reputation, which see their credibility diminished due to the perception of poor cybersecurity.

To deal with this growing trend, companies must invest in network security.

What exactly is network security? It is the set of preventive measures, both hardware and software, to protect the corporate network from unauthorized access, malfunction, modification, misuse, destruction or improper disclosure of data. In other words, it is a system to monitor and manage traffic entering and leaving a network in order to prevent or block cyber attacks, intrusions, and data breach.

Network security allows not only to protect data, but also to ensure business continuity in the event of an attack.

Some of the most common attacks on networks are:

  • DDOS attacks, which involve crashing a website or online service crashing by means of a multiple, simultaneous connection request;
  • spoofing, in which the hacker pretends to be another person (or a company) for the purpose of deceiving the recipient and stealing sensitive data;
  • man-in-the-middle attacks, in which the hacker inserts himself into a communication to intercept the information exchanged;
  • phishing, which involves sending emails or messages containing malicious links to steal sensitive data such as usernames and passwords.

How to strengthen your network security

There are several ways a company can secure its network, but the choice depends on several factors, such as the size and resources available.

Some of the most effective ways are:

Proceeding with a risk assessment and drafting a cyber security plan: to ensure network security, companies need to be aware of their weaknesses and then plan and implement a robust strategy. The strategy should include prevention, detection and response measures to effectively address any threats.

Implementing a firewall: a firewall represents the first layer of defense against cyber threats. It is a system for monitoring and controlling traffic entering and leaving a network in order to block or slow down attacks;

Educating staff: it is important to make staff aware of cybersecurity risks and provide them with the tools and knowledge they need to defend themselves. For example, it is important for all employees to know how to recognize a suspicious email or dangerous link or how to properly use personal devices when smart working;

Regular backups of data: it is fundamental to make regular backups of data so that it can be recovered in the event of a cyber attack. Backups should be made on external media so that they cannot be accessed by hackers;

Security software: security software, such as antivirus, antispyware and IDS (Intrusion Detection System), are necessary to protect the network from threats;

VPN: A VPN (Virtual Private Network) is a private network that allows a secure connection between two or more devices via an Internet connection. A VPN can be used to secure data traffic between two or more remote locations or to allow users to access a private network from a public device;

Encryption: encryption is another important tool for network security. It allows sensitive data to be protected, making it unreadable to anyone without the decryption keys;

Authentication systems: users must be authenticated before accessing the network. This can be done through fixed or temporary passwords (OTP), or biometric recognition (fingerprint). It is preferable to choose an authentication system with multiple layers of security, so that if a cyber criminal were able to trace a user’s password, they would be blocked by the inability to retrieve the OTP or biometric factor;

Access management systems: IAMs provide control over who has access to what data and resources within the network.

SIEM: A security information and event management (SIEM) is a system that allows security problems to be monitored, analyzed, and responded to in real time. The SIEM collects and analyzes data from various devices within the network so that system administrators can identify and resolve security problems quickly;

Cyber Threat Intelligence software: it helps to monitor and analyze network security and cybersecurity threats. These tools enable you to gain insight into existing threats and plan countermeasures to defend against attacks.

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