5 Key Elements of Network Security

5 Key Elements of Network Security

Any organization with a computer network is a potential target for surging levels of ransomware, phishing, crypto-jacking, and many other types of network attacks. By almost every measure, 2021 will go down as the worst year on record for cybercrime, with damages expected to exceed $6 trillion globally.

There’s no cybersecurity silver bullet, no single product or process that will ensure complete protection for today’s connected companies. Because different threats require different responses, all companies should employ a multilayered defense that uses various security measures to protect every potential point of vulnerability.

Layered security involves more than just deploying multiple discrete tools, however. Companies often add security point products as they need them to address specific threats or protect specific environments. Over the years, they can wind up with a collection of security tools that don’t communicate with one another and must be managed separately, leading to blind spots across the network.

An effective layered security environment closes these gaps by enabling various security products to work together to block threats. In this way, an attack that defeats one security mechanism can still be thwarted by other measures.

These are some of the key elements of an integrated network security environment:

Firewalls. The first line of defense in network security is a robust firewall that can prevent much malicious traffic from ever reaching the network. A firewall examines data packets and either blocks or allows them based on criteria defined with firewall rules and policies. It is where much of the layered security integration takes place. Along with deep packet inspection capabilities, next-generation firewalls include antivirus, web filtering, Secure Socket Layer (SSL) and Secure Shell (SSH) inspection, and reputation-based malware detection.

Network Access Control. NAC solutions allow administrators to manage and control which users and devices can access the network — a particularly important capability with growing numbers of remote workers. Before allowing a user to access the network, NAC asks who they are, where they are located and what device they are using. Based upon the answers to those questions, the NAC solution authenticates the user, determines the user’s access permissions, determines what endpoint security policies are applicable, and ensures that the policies are enforced through quarantine or remediation.

Intrusion Prevention Systems. An IPS continuously monitors network traffic to detect and block any malicious or suspicious network traffic. It usually sits just behind the firewall to provide additional traffic analysis, identifying potential threats either through policy-based, signature-based, or anomaly-based detection. When threats are identified, the system can take various actions, including sending an alarm to the administrator, dropping the malicious packet, blocking traffic from the source address, or resetting the connection.

Endpoint Security. Endpoint detection and response (EDR) solutions continuously monitor endpoints and network events, using advanced behavioral analysis and machine learning to identify suspicious files. When a known threat is identified, the EDR solution triggers rules-based responses such as sending an alert or logging off the user.

Security Information and Event Management. SIEM systems aggregate and correlate security data from across the organization, looking for suspicious patterns that could signal a security threat. Data is collected from a wide range of network hardware and software resources such as antivirus software, intrusion detection systems, firewalls, and servers. This data is then forwarded to a central console for inspection and analysis.

Threats are continually evolving, and no security environment can be considered invulnerable, but a layered security approach that integrates key elements of network security can significantly reduce your risk. The cybersecurity professionals at SSD can help you design, deploy, and manage an integrated environment. Contact us to learn more.