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What Is Network Security?

The front door of your home almost certainly has some kind of a locking mechanism just like the doors of your vehicle. Inside your home, you might have a safe, lockbox, or chest that requires a key to open. 

The point is that you are surrounded by physical examples of security that will help to protect your personal belongings and valuables. Network security works in a very similar way. Only instead of being a physical lock and key, it’s virtual software designed to keep your personal information safe from outside threats. Having access control helps with data loss prevention and protecting security information. Wireless networks need intrusion prevention systems and anti-malware software. Let’s talk about security solutions that offer confidentiality and network security tools.

Why Do You Need Network Security?

Regardless of whether you are using the internet recreational or professionally, network security is extremely important. Without proper security, hackers and cybercriminals will have a much easier time infecting your network and/or devices with malware or viruses. These codes can grant them access to your personal data, financial information, and all kinds of other sensitive details that you probably want to be kept private. Wireless security is an endpoint that provides network access control and threat management. Therefore, it’s extremely important. 

Cybercriminals have become so sophisticated in modern times that even highly sensitive and encrypted data protected by national governments are no longer safe from attacks. Although you most likely aren’t at risk of being attacked by the same hackers capable of such high-profile crimes, you should still take precautions to keep your data safe with web security. 

Also many connected devices in your home are vulnerable to cyber attacks such as a connected thermostat or your smart TV.   Once the hacker has taken over one of these devices, they can sit on your network to snoop in on all your activities and launch ransomware or steal your identity as you make online purchases or pay your bills.

How Does Network Security Work? 

The overall definition of network security is relatively broad. However, network security generally refers to the process of taking preventive measures that will protect your networking infrastructure from external and unauthorized access, modification, and misuse. Basically, there’s normal behavior for your network and underlying behavior that is cause for concern. 

There are lots of different ways to achieve this goal and will often require a combination of hardware, software, behavioral analytics, and cloud services. All four of these network security types are recommended as they each perform different tasks despite having a similar goal. The three important network security types break down as follows:

Hardware 

The most common example of network security hardware would be the router with built-in network firewall that you use to create your Wi-Fi network. Routers are often the first line of defense from cyber-attacks because they are responsible for connecting your devices to your modem. Since they act as the intermediary between the two devices, routers with built-in firewall can help to filter out potential threats that might have made it into your modem. 

Software

Arguably the most famous type of network security comes in the form of software. This level of security will typically come in the form of anti-malware, antivirus, pop-up blocker, VPN, spam filters, or any other various types of virtual program designed to keep your device safe. 

Even if you are using a high-quality router that includes different types of network security features, you should still have some kind of security software for all of the devices inside your network.

Cloud Services 

The rarer of the three security types, most cloud services operate in a similar manner to hardware. By rerouting the traffic through a cloud service, you can help to scan, isolate, and block potential threats and prevent them from reaching any of your devices. The cloud service will perform these tasks before the traffic is allowed to reach your network, helping to keep your router protected as well.

What Are the Different Options for Network Security?

There are quite a lot of different options that you can use in order to protect yourself from external threats. The more layers of defense that you enable, the more secure that your data and information will be. In the previous section, we talked about the different types of security options, but this list contains a more detailed breakdown of the most effective security types. 

Firewalls 

One of the most common and popular security options is to use a firewall. They are generally one of the first lines of defense as they have the ability to isolate networks from one another. Another reason that firewalls are so popular is that they are available as both hardware and software. 

You can use a firewall that operates as a standalone device or you can download software onto the device you are aiming to protect. Firewalls operate based on one of two principles:

-Blacklisting will allow all connections to proceed with the exception of those that are specifically listed. Most firewalls will create this list automatically based on updates and information provided by the security company that you purchased the software or hardware from.

-Whitelisting will deny all connections unless they are specifically listed as acceptable. This firewall principle operates as the exact opposite of blacklisting. Although whitelisting is a bit more extreme and will deny access to a large majority of the internet, it is the more secure of the two.

Intrusion Detection Systems

An intrusion detection system works similar to the way that your immune system works. It doesn’t necessarily prevent the infection (malware) from entering your body (network), but it can quickly identify any abnormalities in network traffic and remove them. The system will then learn from this incident and use that information in the future to help prevent malfunction along with similar attacks and lessen their severity. 

Even though modern network security is incredibly strong, there are still some hackers able to gain access to your network. An intrusion detection system isn’t enough of a security measure by itself, but it can be very effective and beneficial when coupled with other network security options. 

VPN 

A VPN, or virtual private network, creates a sort of bubble between your device and the internet. Whenever the VPN is activated, all of your data traffic will be routed through this encrypted “bubble”. This encryption will hide your IP address whenever you are using the internet and effectively hide your location. 

Any information in this bubble will be inaccessible without the VPN key, which will be provided to you by the company that you bought the VPN software from. So not only will using a VPN make you virtually invisible online, it will make it very challenging to break the encryption key that is protecting your data. It is often recommended to use a VPN when surfing the internet in order to avoid possible detention by spam or hackers.

Antivirus 

Using antivirus software is one the most common examples of cyber security for your network. They are borderline essential to protecting your device. Other examples on this list will provide an extra layer of security for your network, but at the very least you should be using antivirus software to protect the integrity of your web gateway and network.

Whenever you have antivirus software installed and activated, it will constantly and thoroughly scan your device and network. The software will typically run in the background while you use your device and search for any viruses, spyware, ransomware, worms, or any other types of malware that might have entered your network or device. Once an anomaly has been located, the antivirus software will track, remove, and repair any damage that it may have caused.

Cloud Security 

As more and more data is being stored in clouds, the security for them has become much more important. Unlike some of the options on this list that focus on protecting your network, cloud security is designed to protect your data against threats anywhere that you access the internet. 

A cloud is sort of like a personal bank where you can easily store and access various data, applications, and other information. If you were to access your cloud using an unsecured network, it could result in potential malware getting through and entering your cloud. Using security software for your cloud can help to eliminate potential blind spots in your protection and keep your cloud safe and secure. 

Email Security 

One of the most common ways that malware enters your network and device is through email gateways. Otherwise known as phishing, these attacks are fake communications that are created in order to look real. An email will often appear in your inbox that will look like a legitimate message. However, by opening the email or clicking on the link that is usually found within, you put yourself at serious risk of a data breach. 

Email security places an emphasis on preventing these phishing attempts by using end-to-end encryption keys. It’s almost like using a coded message when writing a letter. Even if someone were able to view the letter, they wouldn’t be able to understand the code. Another method for email security is to use a spam filter. They will use specific filtering methods in order to identify the content and senders of suspected spam. The email is often automatically deleted and never even reaches your inbox. 

The Takeaway 

When it comes to network security, you can never have enough. The more levels of security that you use, the more protected that your data and information will be. In order to properly protect yourself from cyber attacks, you should be using a combination of security software, hardware, and cloud services. One of the most effective ways to significantly boost your network protection capabilities is to use a high-quality router that places an emphasis on cyber security. Using such a router with built-in network firewall can provide a very strong start to your security system.

 

Sources:

Significant Cyber Incidents | Center for Strategic and International Studies | CSIS

What is Network Security and Why is it Important? | Herzing

What is an Intrusion Detection System (IDS) and How Does it Work? | Search Security

What Is a VPN, and Why You Need One | PC Mag

How Does Antivirus Software Work? | 2021 | US News

What is Email Encryption, How Does It Work, and How Can It Protect Your Organization? | Expert Insights

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