network-security
9
Sep

4 Foolproof Tips to Maintain Network Security

For organizations, network security is an inevitable part of their cybersecurity solutions. If not appropriately secured, computer virus and malware attacks can gain unauthorized access to the security infrastructure through vulnerable entry-points. Besides, an organization’s compliance with PCI Data Security Standards, HIPPA, and other applicable regulatory requirements, make it easier for the firm to stay protected from cyber attackers. Millions of personal data can be protected by following these standards. It also saves the organization from costly legal proceedings. Adhering to regulatory standards ensures that the organization won’t lose its customer trust, hard-earned prestige, and face ruinous financial loss. 

Every organization maintains a unique blend of network security. These solutions generally include software, hardware with properly drafted security policies and procedures to defend a security system against internal and external threats. It’s true that apart from cyber attackers, the careless or disgruntled users and employees can also be a threat to an organization’s sensitive data. Thus, multiple layers of network security are required to prevent a system from falling victim to cyberattacks. It also helps in containing the security incident from spreading within the network. 

Common Network Security Threats  These Threats Try to Exploit 
Malicious programs – viruses, adware, spyware, malware, botnets, and Trojan horse 
  • Unsecured wireless networks 
  • Not regularly patched software 
  • Unsecured websites 
  • Unwanted installed applications 
  • Weak/predictable passwords 
  • Lost devices 

 

Rogue security software 
DoS+ and DDoS++ attack 
Computer worm 
Phishing 
Rootkit 
SQL injection attacks 
MITM+++ attacks 
Zero-day and Zero-hour attacks 
+ Denial of Service 
++ Distributed Denial of Service 
+++ Man-in-the-Middle 

 

3 Fundamentals of Network Security 

All employees of an organization are responsible for keeping its network secure from potential cyber threats. It’s vital for an organization’s reputation, downtime prevention, and regulation compliance.  

  1. Installation of Anti-Malware and Anti-Virus Solutions

Multi-layered security approach is capable of providing advanced threat protection. Such a strategy can prevent the system from sophisticated as well as persistent attacks. The installation of anti-malware and anti-virus solutions counter the attack before it can cripple the system. This line of defense works better when all the cybersecurity solutions are patched regularly. By updating existing applications and software with the latest patches, security professional makes it difficult for the cybercriminals to penetrate the security system. 

  1. Regularly Patch Software and Applications

Cyber attackers can infiltrate a secured network if the administrator fails to patch the in-use operating systems, web browsers, plug-ins, software, or applications. The concerned professionals are responsible for keeping all the installed applications and software running on their current versions. It would be recommended to enable all your applications with automatic upgradations. 

  1. Use Strong Passwords

Keeping a password away from plain sight is not the only concern of internet users. The online users are supposed to create a strong password that should be complex and not easy to predict. For that, users should prefer a minimum of 6-digit password with a combination of upper- and lower-case letters, numbers, and sometimes special characters.  

There are a few suggestions that you can follow to create a strong password: 

  • Avoid words from a dictionary. 
  • Avoid using a predictable name for your password – your name, nickname, spouse’s name, family member’s name, or even a pet’s name 
  • Avoid using a predictable number – phone number, street number, date of birth 

UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) recently revealed in one of its reports that 23.2 million account holders from all around the world still use ‘123456’ as their password. [1] Apart from that, cybercriminals are well versed in tricking people into sharing their passwords. Attackers impersonate tech support or use social engineering methods to make users reveal their passwords. 

Guaranteed Tips to Maintaining Network Security 

The following list has everything you need to maintain network security – 

  1. Securing a VPN

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) must have these two components – data encryption and identity authentication. An open network is susceptible to cyberattacks, especially when the data is traveling from one location to another. To ensure that your network uses reliable protocols for data encryption and authentication, check the documentation for your server and VPN software. With that, incorporating a multi-factor authentication process increases the complexity of decoding a password. Also, use a firewall to separate VPN network from the rest of the networks. 

Other tips to consider:  

  • For email and file sharing, use cloud-based platforms instead of a VPN 
  • Draft a prompt user access policy. Stay careful when granting access to users 
  • Educate employees on how to secure their personal wireless networks 
  1. Secure Network Defenses

As employees have started using personal and professional remote devices to access the company’s private data, the challenge is to keep all access ports protected from getting exploited. Multiple remote access ports not only increase the chance of falling prey to a cyber attack, but it can also put the strategically established cybersecurity protocols in peril.  

Strong network defense practices can help you mitigate this issue.  

  • Use a network-specific firewall (stateless or stateful) that suits your organization’s network security needs 
  • Your organization should have intrusion detection and prevention systems (IDS and IPS) 
  • WiFi network should be password protected 
  • Be ready for worst-case scenarios – update your backups regularly 
  • Ask employees to use rotating passwords  
  1. Actively Manage Access Privileges

Managing user access privileges is a must on every administrator’s checklist. Granting and revoking access to privileged users should be a regular process. It should be evaluated on a daily basis. An inactive account or inappropriately granted access is a potential security threat. On the departure of every employee, the company should delete the associated account. For convenience, the organization can use software to automate this process. 

  1. Monitor Your Network Regularly

Actively performing a full-fledged periodic network scanning can reveal all unauthorized devices that might have recently gained access to your secure network. Though all the deployed network security solutions, such as firewalls, IDS, IPS, and others, will prevent unauthorized access, regular network auditing will be an extra advantage for your organization’s security policies. 

Network security is a critical component of every organization. It requires dedicated network administrators and security professionals to keep it intact. The Certified Network Defender (C|ND) helps you learn every concept that can help you to build a secure network for your organization. This DoD recognized program offers real-time labs which comprehensively covers the network security domain. Well, to learn advanced ways to maintain network security, enroll for EC-Council’s C|ND program. 

Sources: 

[1] https://www.ncsc.gov.uk/news/most-hacked-passwords-revealed-as-uk-cyber-survey-exposes-gaps-in-online-security 

Editor's Note:
Reviewed by Miguel Halling, President, Information Security Department, Incident Management, DLP Operations at BNY Mellon and JoAnne Genevieve Green, Adjunct Professor – Cyber Crimes at the University of Pittsburgh.
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