The world runs on data now. The internet houses a treasure trove of potentially harmful information, from basic shopping habits to private financial transactions. All this data is carried over a network of interconnected devices. During transit, the data is as secure as the mechanism responsible for its transmission. It is in this phase that most corrupted data originates. So in today's article on 'what is network security,' we will cover the important frameworks that govern the rules and policies required to secure our networks against malicious attacks.
What Is Network Security?
A group of technologies known as network security guards against a wide range of possible dangers from entering or spreading inside a network, preserving the usefulness and integrity of a company's infrastructure. An architecture for network security includes tools for securing both the network and the applications that use it. Multiple automated, scalable layers of defense are used in effective network security techniques. Each defensive layer enforces a set of security policies chosen by the administrator.
Network security is crucial for both personal and professional networks. Most houses with high-speed internet have one or more wireless routers, which can be vulnerable to attacks if they are not adequately secured. Data loss, theft, and sabotage risk may be decreased with the use of a strong network security system.
Your workstations are protected from hazardous spyware, thanks to network security. Additionally, it guarantees the security of shared data. By dividing information into various sections, encrypting these portions, and transferring them over separate pathways, network security infrastructure offers multiple levels of protection to thwart MiM attacks, preventing situations like eavesdropping.
Now that we understand what network security is, let us go through the working mechanism behind the concept.
How Does Network Security Work?
Network security revolves around two processes: authentication and authorization.
- The first procedure, authentication, is similar to our access cards in that it ensures that only individuals with permission to enter a building do so. In other words, authentication ensures that the user attempting to access or join the network is truly a member, avoiding unlawful invasions.
- The subsequent step is authorization. The level of access granted to the recently authorized user is determined by this process. For example, the network administrator needs access to the whole network, while people working inside it will likely require access to only certain network sections. The process of deciding the degree of access or authorization level based on a network user's role is known as authorization.
Now that we understand working in network security, let's check the different types of network security.
Types of Network Security
There are three types of network security as a whole, the first being physical security.
This is the first fundamental level, which involves preventing unauthorized employees from gaining control of the network's secrecy. External accessories and routers that may be utilized for cable connections are examples of this. Biometric systems, for example, may do the same thing. Physical security is crucial, especially for small businesses that may not have as many resources to spend on security staff and systems as bigger corporations.
The second type here is technical network security.
It mostly focuses on safeguarding data either kept in the network or engaged in network transitions. This kind fulfills two functions. One is a defense against unauthorized users, while the other is against malevolent actions.
The last category we have to go through is administrative network security.
This network security degree safeguards user behavior, such as how permission is authorized and the process works. This also assures the complexity required to safeguard the network from threats. This level also identifies infrastructural modifications that are required.
I think that’s all the basics we need to cover on network security. Our next topic discusses the most important tools that help enforce these network security rules.
Tools for Network Security
- Firewall: A device that keeps track of incoming and outgoing network traffic and decides which traffic to allow or deny under security rules. For the better part of two decades, firewalls have served as network security's first line of defense. They provide a barrier between trustworthy internal protected and regulated networks from shady external networks like the internet.
- VPN: An encrypted connection between a device and a network via the internet is known as a virtual private network or VPN. The encrypted connection aids the secure transmission of sensitive data. It makes it impossible for unauthorized parties to eavesdrop on the traffic and enables remote work for the user. The usage of VPN technology is common in both corporate and personal networks.
- IPS: An intrusion prevention system (IPS) is a network security tool that continually scans a network for harmful activity and responds to it when it does occur by reporting, blocking, or discarding it. It can be either hardware or software. It is more sophisticated than an intrusion detection system (IDS), which can warn an administrator and merely identify harmful activities.
- Behavioral Analytics: Analytics highlighting anomalies can help filter out malicious attacks before they inflict significant damage. With many attacks being generic DDoS or SQL injection attempts, learning the pattern of attacks being faced by an organization can strengthen the overall security index of the network.
Moving on to the next topic of our article on network security, we will cover some benefits of deploying a strong security perimeter at the network level.
Types of Network Security Attacks
A process used to attempt to compromise network security maliciously is defined as a network attack. There are two types of network attacks; active attacks and passive attacks. Let us have a look at both these network attacks.
In an active attack, the intruder attempts to disrupt the network’s normalcy, modifies the information, and tries to alter the system resources.
As shown below, a sender, receiver, and attacker is a man in the middle trying to create an active attack. When the sender sends data to the receiver, the attacker intercepts that data, modifies the data, and then sends the modified data to the receiver. While doing so, neither the receiver nor the sender would be aware of the attacker, and thus they would not be aware of the modification that has been done.
Fig: Active Attack
In a passive attack, the intruder intercepts data that travels through the network. Here, the intruder eavesdrops but does not alter the message.
As shown in the diagram below, the attacker captures the data packets and copies the contents to use them later.
Fig: Passive Attack
Now that you have understood the types of network attacks, let us move to the next part of this article and look at the different types of network security.
Network Security Methods
All the network security system components work together to improve an organization’s security posture. Listed below are a few standard network security components.
- Access Control: You should be able to prevent unauthorized users and devices from entering your network to keep out possible attackers. Users having network access should only access the resources for which they have been granted access.
- Application Security: The hardware, software, and processes that may be utilized to track and lockdown application vulnerabilities that attackers can employ to enter your network are referred to as application security.
- Firewalls: A firewall is a hardware or software responsible for blocking incoming or outgoing traffic from the internet to your computer. Firewalls are required for a secure network.
- Virtual Private Networks(VPN): Virtual Private Network (VPN) connects a VPN server and a VPN client. It is a secure tunnel-like connection across the internet.
- Intrusion Detection System (IDS): An IDS is designed to detect unauthorized access to a system. It is used together with a firewall and a router.
- Honeypots: Honeypots are computer systems that are used to lure attackers. It is used to deceive attackers and defend the entire network from any attack.
Benefits of Network Security
1. Protection Against External Threats
The objectives for cyber assaults can be as varied as the offenders, although they are typically initiated for financial gain. Whether industrial spies, hacktivists, or cybercriminals, these bad actors all have one thing in common: how quick, clever, and covert their attacks are.
2. Protection Against Internal Threats
The human aspect continues to be the cyber security system's weakest link. Insider risks can originate from current or former workers, third-party vendors, or even trusted partners, and they can be unintentional, careless, or downright evil. Aside from that, the rapid expansion of remote work, personal devices used for business purposes, and even IoT devices in remote locations can make these threats easier to undetect until it's too late.
3. Increased Productivity
It is nearly impossible for employees to function when networks and personal devices are slashed by viruses and other cyberattacks on the operation of websites and for the company to run. You may significantly minimize violations and the downtime required to fix the breach by implementing various cyber security measures, such as enhanced firewalls, virus scanning, and automatic backups.
4. Brand Trust and Reputation
Customer retention is one of the most crucial elements in business development. Customers today place a premium on maintaining brand loyalty through a strong cyber security stance since this is the fastest way to get their business back, get referrals, and sell more tickets overall. Additionally, it helps manufacturers get on the vendor list with bigger companies as a part of their supply chain, which is only as strong as its weakest link.
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Are You Ready to Become a Network Security Professional?
So, how can we ensure network security? The best and simplest way of ensuring network security is by ensuring our passwords are complex everywhere. Simplilearn offers a "Cybersecurity Expert" course that focuses on such cybersecurity techniques and how to protect yourself from cyber attacks. The course is recommended for people looking to join the cybersecurity industry, as it covers basic and advanced modules that cater to beginners and professionals alike.
In today’s article on what is network security, we learned about the importance of network security and ways to prevent cyber attacks. We also saw the different types of network security.
If you have any queries regarding this topic, feel free to ask them in the comment section below, and we will be happy to answer them.