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A guide to network security and protection
Strong network security ensures the safety and integrity of your company's computerized activities. Without it, there's excessive risk of your sensitive data being intercepted, of malware infecting your mission-critical systems and of data breaches costing you thousands of dollars to remediate.
So how does robust network security protection shield you from these cyberthreats? By implementing multi-layered defenses, from access controls to virtual private networks (VPN) and everything in between.
Think of it this way: Network security solutions aren't monolithic, standalone products like antivirus (AV) programs. Instead, they're interlocking combinations of technologies of both hardware (like certain types of firewalls) and software (e.g., content filters, whitelists and blacklists to deny access to malicious sites) deployed across a network and at its edge.
Together, they cover essential communications such as email, provide real-time intelligence on potential threats lurking in network traffic and broaden secure access to enterprise resources, via VPNs and multi-factor authentication for workplace accounts. Such multi-level security covers all bases.
Depending on the implementation, a network protection platform might even combine older tools, like AV, with more recent innovations such as behavioral analytics for differentiating legitimate and suspicious activity. Specific approaches to network security vary considerably, making it important to partner with an experienced managed service provider who can match the right solutions to your infrastructure.
Modern network security should reliably fend off external cyberthreats, as well as mitigate the impact of any attacks that make it past the edge and start affecting your internal operations. For example, it should prevent someone from an unusual IP address or unrecognized device from accessing privileged assets. Likewise, it should excel at preventing the exfiltration of sensitive data.
To effectively respond to these threats, network security solutions typically harness a wide range of technologies. Let's look at a representative sample of them:
Who should be granted access to your IT systems? And what measures are in place to verify the identity of anyone who tries to sign in to them? These two questions go to the heart of access control schemes, which determine how users are granted or denied access to network resources.
The familiar username and password combination is a form of access control – alternatively known as identity and access management – as is the use of two-factor authentication to force the entry of an additional credential during login. On a more sophisticated level, a network access control engine might look at each endpoint's current software update level and whether it has AV software installed before letting it access network infrastructure.
A firewall is a way to control network traffic. Its name refers to its presence at the boundary of a trusted internal network and its untrusted external counterparts, like the public internet. Each firewall screens the traffic passing through it in accordance with pre-set security policies.
Firewalls may be implemented in hardware or through software. The most recent firewalls are classified as next-generation firewalls (NGFWs). A NGFW combines the core policy-driven functionality of a classic firewall with newer features such as real-time threat intelligence, application and identity awareness, bridged and routed modes, and integrated intrusion prevention systems (IPS).
An IPS is an active, in-line device that complements the functionality of a firewall (or is directly integrated into it, à la an NGFW). By analyzing traffic flows, an IPS may take corrective actions including dropping malicious packets, preventing access to the source address or resetting the connection entirely.
An IPS is not the same as an intrusion detection system, even though they're similar. The latter is an older, more passive technology that mostly alerts administrators to possible policy violations across the network.
Distributed denial-of-service attacks render websites unavailable by flooding them with meaningless traffic. Over time, DDoS campaigns have risen in peak volume while also becoming easier to execute, thanks to the growth of botnets and DIY tools.
How do you stop a DDoS attack in its tracks? Effective defense starts with a DDoS-protected core, available from providers like Telesystem. All traffic passing through this core is analyzed for bot and botnet activity, in addition to other forms of malicious network traffic. Combined with other managed services, the anti-DDoS core reduces the risk of your sites being taken offline.
A VPN is like a tunnel for a vehicle that would otherwise need to pass through a violent hailstorm on an open road. Working with sensitive data over the public internet is dangerous, since your activity could be viewable to ISPs or interceptable by third-parties. Moreover, permitting access to network resources from public connections increases cybersecurity risk by opening the door to untrusted devices.
VPNs offer encrypted connections between endpoints and networks. They ensure the privacy of the connection and reduce the risk of unsafe and unauthorized access
Your network is your company's bridge to the outside world. If it's not secure, neither are the operations and overall stability of your business. Data breaches take a huge financial and reputational toll that will only climb in the coming years as regulations on safe data handling (like GDPR in the EU) become more extensive. A robust network security implementation is your best protection in a challenging environment.
Telesystem offers a fully-featured portfolio of managed security services, from DDoS solutions to firewalls and email filtering. To learn more, visit our security page or contact our team directly.