Network Security In A Nutshell
by Spencer Wade
There are many questions one finds themselves asking when network security is the topic of discussion. The most obvious questions would be what network security actually is, how it functions to protect you, how it works, and what the benefits are for business. These seem straightforward and easy to answer, but a trusted IT partner should be consulted to answer these questions for you.
Most small and medium-sized businesses do not have the IT resources of larger companies, so network security is not always sufficient to protect these companies from threats. Larger companies can afford the sizeable budgetary concerns that arise from strict security protocols. This desire of major firms has had an excellent secondary effect on the industry. It has advanced the science of security and lowered the cost for technological defenses against outside threats. This means small to medium-sized businesses can now afford the same level of security larger companies have come to expect over the years.
What Is Network Security?
The answer to the question, “what is network security?” is very simple. Network security is defined as any and all activities designed to protect your network. These activities protect the integrity, safety, reliability, and usability of your network and data. Security that effectively protects a network targets threats and eliminates them before they can enter your network and spread.
What Is Network Security and How Does It Protect You?
The next question to address is, “what are the threats to my network?” There are many answers to this question, and none of them are good for companies. Many threats to networks spread over Internet connections, and since all business today is conducted via the web our networks are susceptible to attack. The most common of these threats include:
- Viruses, Worms, and Trojan Horses
- Data Interception and Theft
- Denial of Service Issues
- Zero-Day Attacks
- Spyware and Adware
- Identity Theft
How Does Network Security Work?
Understanding network security is realizing that no single solution will ever protect against a variety of threats. Effective network security consists of multiple layers, so that if one layer fails there is another to take its place. Hardware and software are the tools used to achieve network security, and these must be updated and managed regularly to maintain a high level of protection for systems and data. New threats emerge continuously, and the security software must be able to counteract whatever it faces. Network security systems consist of many components, but none more important than the software and its updates. When these components work together they minimize maintenance and improve security. A list of some of these components follows:
- Anti-Virus and Anti-Spyware
- Intrusion Prevention Systems (IPS)
- Virtual Private Networks (VPNs)
What are the Business Benefits of Network Security?
There are many benefits to your business adopting a network security system. The company will be protected against disruption from outside sources, and this will keep the workforce more productive. It will also allow the company to meet mandatory regulatory compliance with state and federal agencies. Most importantly, it will protect your customer’s data thereby safeguarding against legal action due to data theft. This kind of protection is priceless when considering possible damage to the company’s reputation.
How Security Pays Off
Businesses today require a network security system even if they do not rely heavily on the Internet. Partners, customers, and vendors will expect you to protect any and all information they share with you. The fact that network security has become a must for all businesses is not a bad thing when you look closely at the potential payoffs a company can expect to see. Here are just a few secured network benefits:
- Customer Trust
- Privacy Assurance
- Encouraged Collaboration
Taking a strong stance on security assures customers that all sensitive information they share with you is safe from access and exploitation. This includes everything from personal information to credit card numbers. This will foster an atmosphere conducive to partners sharing more sensitive information like sales forecasts or pre-release product plans with you that may help to do business with them. The same security that protects the information they share also allows your partners to access your network securely, and this will make greater collaboration possible.
Network security has become more than a luxury. It is essential to all companies looking to do business in the globalized world of today. As a certified CompTIA Security+ IT professional I can tell you that security is one of the fastest growing fields in IT. Security threats are increasing in number and severity, and there is an enormous gap between IT professionals working in the field and IT personnel needed. This means enormous opportunity for both the IT professional and the companies looking to protect themselves from the threats they face. Even in the face of difficult economic times companies are looking to increase their security budgets. This shows precisely why network security is so important to both companies and IT professionals.