Many companies fall victim to attackers and lose precious data: their own and their customers. Often these incidents happen because of inadequate quality network security systems or their management and implementation. The development of technology accelerates important processes every day, including the work of any business. But with the development of the digital space comes the progress of cybercrime.
What is network security?
Network security is a subset of cybersecurity, which aims to protect any data and information. This data is transmitted through devices on the company’s network. To ensure the information is delivered safely and securely, companies install a security system for the working network.
The primary role of network security is to protect an organization’s IT infrastructure from all types of cyber threats:
Viruses: a program aimed at disrupting user’s workflow, making OS malfunction, and/or able to replicate itself to other computers;
Zero-day attacks: zero-days are vulnerabilities for which there isn’t a “for now” patch or can’t be invented; that’s why they are hazardous, as they can’t be closed. These attacks create broader software vulnerability of any form: SQL injection (web security vulnerability that allows an attacker to interfere with the app’s queries to its database), URL redirects (the technique that makes a web page available under more than one URL address), buffer overflows (occurs when the volume of data exceeds the storage capacity of the memory buffer which makes the program to write the data to the buffer overwrites adjacent memory locations), different bugs (an error, flaw or fault in a computer program or system that causes production of an incorrect or unexpected result), etc.;
- Hacking: an activity that seeks to compromise digital devices, including entire networks. Nowadays, most hacker activities are aimed at financial gain, protests, or spying;
- Denial-of-service (DoS) attacks: aimed to shut down a machine or network and restrict the access for intended users. These attacks are performing by flooding the target with traffic or sending the information for triggering the crash;
- Spyware/adware: types of malware that are aimed to collect personal information, install Trojan viruses (spyware), or display pop-up ads when you are online (adware).
Network security types and tools
There are many tools and types of network security systems. But they are all more like components for the creation of a single bond arrangement. Let’s talk about each one separately and their compatibility with each other:
▪️ Access control allows restricted access to the network only to recognized users or grants limited access to the non-compiled devices due to security policies. This technique could be implemented by functional processes, e.g., would be access levels or checkboxes with permissions.
▪️ Application security: it’s essential to keep programs up-to-date and patch them to prevent sensitive data from cyberattackers. Keep in mind that every device or product software you use in your network is a potential open door for hackers. App security is a complex of hardware, software, and best practices for monitoring issues and closing gaps in security coverage.
▪️Data Loss Prevention (DLP): technologies that help prevent a company’s staff from sharing unsafe information or unstable data outside the network. DLP technologies allow avoiding actions that could potentially uncover data to bad actors outside network space, like uploading/downloading files, forwarding messages, or printing.
▪️Antivirus and anti-malware software: malware (malicious software) is intended for quickly deleting files or corrupt data, thereby preventing hackers from infiltrating the system. The antivirus software monitors network traffic in real-time for malware, scans activity files for signs of suspicious behavior or long-term patterns, and provides threat remediation capacity.
▪️Email security: phishing, scams, malware, and suspicious links are threat vectors that can be attached to emails. It’s crucial to train the company’s employees to detect suspicious emails, as many of the listed threats will often contain personal info to appear more persuasive. This type of security protects outgoing messages from sharing certain forms of data and filters incoming threats.
▪️Distributed denial of service (DDoS) mitigation: DDoS attacks cause network crashes by overloading a network with one-sided connection requests. The mitigation is a complex of processes that will help to protect your network successfully. So, the stages of reliable mitigation will be:
- Detection: the spotting of traffic flow deviations that may gesture the buildup of a DDoS attack.
- Diversion: redirection of traffic away from the network via DNS (Domain Name System) or BGP (Border Gateway Protocol) routing and decision making about filtering or discarding it altogether.
- Filtering: the traffic weeded out usually by identifying patterns that instantly distinguish between legitimate traffic (i.e., humans, API calls, and search engine bots) and malicious visitors.
- Analysis: identifying the offender(s) and creating a plan for improvement of future resilience will make it easier to make a qualitative strategy by using system logs and analytics.
▪️Mobile device security: mobile devices often carry personal or sensitive data, and hackers are aware of this fact and could take advantage of it. This type of security can restrict a device’s access to a network, which is essential for keeping network traffic private.
▪️Firewalls: this element of a network security model functions as a gatekeeper between a network and the wider internet. Firewalls prevent threats from accessing the network and filter incoming and, sometimes, outgoing traffic by comparing data packages against preset rules and policies.
▪️Web security: this security type limits internet access for staff to prevent them from accessing pages that could contain malware. The main components of this web security are ACL (Access Control List) — a list of rules that prohibit or permit the use of network resources and a Firewall for HTTP/HTTPS (binds connections and directs them to specific ports).
▪️Security information and event management (SIEMs): these security systems unite host- and network-based invasion detection systems. These systems combine data log file scanning and real-time network traffic monitoring for providing a complex picture of all activity across the network.
▪️Network segmentation: simplify assigning or denying authorization credentials for employees, guarantying no one accessing info they should not be. It is essential to understand that segmentation is done in the network’s planning phase, which constitutes the actual isolation of some resources from others. The job of this security type is dividing and sorting network traffic, relying on certain classifications streamlines.
Network security on the edge of DevOps
DevOps inquires automation for maximizing velocity and continuous improvement throughout the feedback process. Unfortunately, that means more security risks: code and complexity mean more spaces where things can go wrong, velocity means less time to fix bugs.
Implementing security as an integral part of the development process (security groups) and optimizing velocity through automation and CI/CD improvement (DevOps) creates a job description for DevSecOps. The primary responsibility of this position is not to lose sight of managing risks during making everything run fast. So how to add security to DevOps without compromising speed? The answer will be implementing better automation: use intelligent test execution based on the context (what to run? when to run? and how to run?) instead of running full scans every time you change the code.
Likewise, it’s important to remember about policy. “Policy as a code” is a configuration file, probably JSON or YAML, which means that using policy is precisely specified. Therefore, if you changed the policy, these changes should be understandable and supported by a change management process.
Cyber-attack is terrible damage and loss, so to avoid a leak of information and money, it’s worth implementing all possible technologies to secure the network and work on time and speed. Nevertheless, it’s possible to reduce the risks of becoming a cyber victim by taking proper precautions. It also would be best to remember that security isn’t just a configuration step but a real process that needs to be updated and adapted to any changes in the system.