Safeguarding sensitive data is an essential issue in this digital world. There are two terms often used in this regard. These are cyber security and network security. Though these appear to be the same, both are quite different. Moreover, the debate on cyber security vs network security has been never-ending in the digital world. Therefore, we need to understand these terms before concluding cyber security vs network security.

But before we start with network security vs cyber security, it is ideal to get the basics correct.

Understanding Cyber Security

Cybersecurity is a comprehensive approach to digital security. It aims to safeguard computer systems, networks, and data. This ensures the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of digital assets. It helps in:

  • Shielding sensitive information from unauthorized access
  • Verifying and managing user identities
  • Identifying and neutralizing cyber threats in real-time

Understanding Network Security

Network security is a specialized domain within cybersecurity that focuses on computer networks. It aims at securing the integrity and usability of a computer network. This involves:

  • Implementing measures to prevent unauthorized access
  • Defending the network against external threats
  • Safeguarding Wi-Fi networks from unauthorized access
  • Protecting individual devices connected to the network

Let's take an example to understand better. Consider that you have initiated an online funds transfer. Here, cybersecurity comes into play to secure this transaction in the following ways:

  • Your financial details are encrypted during the transaction. This makes the details unreadable to unauthorized entities.
  • To ensure that only the legitimate user initiates the transfer, Multi-Factor Authentication can be used. This could involve a combination of passwords or one-time passcodes.

On the other hand, network security safeguards the online banking infrastructure.

  • A robust firewall is deployed on the bank's network. It scrutinizes incoming and outgoing traffic. This prevents unauthorized access and shields against external threats.
  • In case of any suspicious activity, Intrusion Prevention Systems (IPS) block or neutralize the threat.
  • Virtual Private Network (VPN) ensures encrypted communication between you and the bank's servers. This ensures that sensitive financial data remains confidential during transmission.

In simple words, cyber security focuses on securing the user's interaction and data during the online transaction. On the other hand, network security safeguards the pathway through which the transaction data travels.

Cyber Security vs Network Security: Key Differences

Here are the key differences between cyber security and network security:

Grounds

Cybersecurity

Network Security

Scope

This covers the entire digital landscape. It addresses diverse threats across domains.

It is primarily concerned with securing communication and access within a network infrastructure.

Objective

It protects against cyber threats across all vectors.

It focuses on safeguarding the integrity, confidentiality, and availability of network data through protocols and technologies.

Focus Area

Addresses the overall security posture of an organization or individual. It integrates people, processes, technologies, and policies.

Concentrates on securing the network infrastructure. It includes devices, protocols, and communication channels.

Components

  • SIEM (Security Information and Event Management)
  • IAM (Identity and Access Management)
  • Firewalls
  • Encryption
  • Firewalls
  • IDS/IPS (Intrusion Detection and Prevention Systems)
  • VPNs (Virtual Private Networks)
  • Protocols within a network environment.

Application

This applies to various environments, including home networks, corporate networks, etc.

This primarily applies within a specific network. For example, a company's internal or cloud network.

Examples

  • Multi-factor authentication (MFA)
  • Cybersecurity awareness training
  • Endpoint protection solutions
  • Firewalls
  • IDS/IPS
  • VPNs
  • Network-based authentication systems

Concerned Threats

Addresses threats extending beyond network perimeters. This includes 

  • Social engineering
  • Malware
  • APTs (Advanced Persistent Threats).

Primarily focuses on threats targeting the network infrastructure. These can be:

  • Unauthorized access
  • DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service)
  • Lateral movement attacks.

Risk Management

Broad risk management strategy considers:

  • Overall organizational risk
  • Financial risk
  • Reputational risk, and
  • Operational risks

Targets specific risks associated with network vulnerabilities and data transmission. This aligns with overall organizational risk assessments.

Incident Response

A comprehensive approach involves:

  • Coordination across various organizational functions, 
  • Utilizing IR (Incident Response) frameworks

Primarily responds to network-specific incidents by employing:

  • NDR (Network Detection and Response)
  • Incident response plans specific to network breaches

Data Protection

Ensures protection of sensitive data through:

  • Encryption
  • Tokenization
  • Secure storage mechanisms.

Specifically protects data during transmission within the network infrastructure. It uses TLS/SSL (Transport Layer Security/Secure Sockets Layer).

User Training

Involves educating users about:

  • Diverse cyber threats
  • Secure practices
  • Security awareness programs.

Focuses on educating users about:

  • Network-specific threats
  • Secure access protocols
  • Adherence to network security policies.

Endpoint Security

Covers security measures for all connected devices, including

  • Endpoints
  • Leveraging EDR (Endpoint Detection and Response) solution

Primarily concerned with securing endpoints within the network. It employs

  • Antivirus software,
  • Endpoint firewalls
  • Secure configurations

Cloud Security

Extends security measures to cloud environments and services. It utilizes CASB (Cloud Access Security Broker) solutions.

Ensures the security of data and services hosted on the network's cloud infrastructure. It is through cloud-specific security tools and practices.

Physical Security

This includes measures to secure physical devices and infrastructure. For example, biometric access controls and surveillance.

Primarily concerned with physical security aspects such as securing servers and network hardware. It is through access controls and surveillance mechanisms.

Network Security vs Cyber Security: Common Similarities

While cyber and network security are distinct areas, they share some commonalities. Some of these similarities are:

  • Both emphasize access control mechanisms to manage and restrict user access. For example, the use of Role-Based Access Control (RBAC). It is to ensure that only authorized users have access to specific network resources.
  • Transport Layer Security (TLS) and Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) protocols are common in both. These protocols encrypt data exchanged between systems, preventing any tampering.
  • Both areas employ intrusion prevention mechanisms to detect and mitigate potential threats. Intrusion Prevention Systems (IPS) use signature-based and anomaly-based detection to prevent malicious activities.
  • Firewalls act as a critical barrier. It helps in filtering and monitoring incoming and outgoing network traffic. Moreover, Unified Threat Management (UTM) solutions integrate firewall capabilities. This serves as a comprehensive defense in both cyber and network security.
  • Regular assessment and patching of vulnerabilities are also essential components of both. Moreover, both domains require structured incident response processes to address security incidents promptly.
  • Multi-factor authentication (MFA) is implemented across cyber and network security systems. This requires users to provide multiple forms of identification for enhanced access security.

Cyber Security vs Network Security: Which One To Choose?

Both cyber and network security have their own unique strengths. Determining which is 'better' requires a comparative analysis of overall security.

  • Cyber security protects against internal threats and focuses on data integrity. However, network security safeguards against external threats, strengthening the network infrastructure.
  • Cyber threats evolve constantly. Cyber Security, with its adaptive threat response, is effective in countering emerging threats. Network Security, on the other hand, forms an essential foundation. It is beneficial, especially in preventing unauthorized access.
  • The success of either approach depends on organizational needs. Companies dealing with vast amounts of sensitive data might prioritize cyber security. However, those heavily reliant on network infrastructure may stress network security.

While cyber security protects the digital domain, network security protects the pathways. Therefore, there cannot be an "either-or" strategy. After all, both are essential components of a robust security framework. However, the key lies in understanding organizational priorities.

Conclusion

Navigating the cyber landscape requires a keen understanding of cybersecurity and network Security. To embrace the digital era, an integrated approach to both is paramount for robust protection. So, take the next step in strengthening your cyber security with Simplilearn’s Cyber Security Expert Masters Program. This program can help you hone the right skills and make you job-ready in no time. Do not let vulnerabilities compromise your digital safety; empower yourself in this digital world.

If you have any questions or queries, feel free to post them below, and our team will get back to you at the earliest.

FAQs

1. Do any tools provide both network and cyber security features?

Yes, many tools provide features that cover both network and cyber security. Unified Threat Management (UTM) solutions, for instance, integrate various security functions into one platform. This addresses both network-level threats and cyber vulnerabilities.

2. How frequently should tools and security standards be updated?

Regular updates are crucial to stay ahead of evolving threats. Ideally, tools and security standards should be updated as soon as the relevant authorities release updates. Quarterly assessments, at a minimum, are recommended.

3. How do I know if my organization's security is adequate?

Periodic security audits, vulnerability assessments, and adherence to best practices can provide insights into the effectiveness of your security measures.

4. Which pays more among networking and cyber security?

Both networking and cybersecurity fields offer competitive salaries. The compensation depends on factors like expertise, experience, and industry demand. Cybersecurity roles often involve complex skill sets and high-demand expertise. Therefore, these may have higher salaries.

5. Does cybersecurity include networking?

While networking and cybersecurity are distinct fields, they are interconnected. Cybersecurity relies on secure network infrastructure. Understanding networking principles is valuable in cybersecurity to identify potential vulnerabilities.

6. Is cybersecurity a good career?

Absolutely, cybersecurity is an excellent career choice. With the increasing cyber threats, the demand for skilled cybersecurity professionals is on the rise. It is a rewarding career path with opportunities for continuous learning and growth.

Our Cyber Security Certifications Duration And Fees

Cyber Security Certifications typically range from a few weeks to several months, with fees varying based on program and institution.

Program NameDurationFees
Post Graduate Program in Cyber Security

Cohort Starts: 2 May, 2024

6 Months$ 3,000
Caltech Cybersecurity Bootcamp

Cohort Starts: 15 Jul, 2024

6 Months$ 8,000
Cyber Security Expert6 Months$ 2,999