What is the cost of a data breach? $3.86 million, on average. Can your organization afford that?
Network security is critical for any company today, especially when we live in an age where data is an organization’s most valuable resource. But protection does not come cheap. Effective network security is not just about tools and technological solutions; it is paramount to develop careful strategies tailored to the company’s operations and risks. Some of the most useful network security tactics have been explained below.
This is the obvious first step. Every organization needs to take proper inventory of its assets as well as analyze and document vulnerabilities associated with every piece of equipment. Beyond equipment and facilities though, modern network security is intricately tied to data protection. Therefore, a proper risk assessment should be concerned with data and information collection and storage, access and authentication protocols and endpoint security. That is, the questions that must be asked include:
- What kind of data and information do we collect/store?
- How important is this data? Organizations must tailor their security strategy to the data risks. For instance, financial and health organizations deal with more sensitive information and so must offer more stringent protection.
- How is the data stored?
- Who can access the data?
Network Endpoint Security
The aim of network security is to leave no endpoint exposed. However, frankly, in these days of shadow IT, ensuring absolute security is more difficult. Not to mention the exponentially increasing growth of remote work, leading to dispersed endpoints. Common attacks that endpoints face include malware, phishing and man-in-the-middle attacks.
To protect endpoints, organizations should enable interactions over secure networks, with stringent access protocols in place to prevent data breaches. It includes training employees to observe proper cybersecurity hygiene. For IoT devices, which are among the most porous due to underdeveloped security protocols, organizations need to conduct firmware vulnerability assessments.
Creating a Resilient Cybersecurity Culture
People, not devices and endpoints, are the most vulnerable part of the cybersecurity structure. No matter the network security apparatus in place, it all falls apart if the employees are not in tune with cybersecurity best practices. There is not much that policies can achieve if a proper cybersecurity culture is not ingrained in the organization and its employees.
This goes beyond regular cybersecurity awareness training, although that certainly matters. It is about fostering consistent security practices that actively limit employees’ (and thus, the organization’s) exposure to data breaches. That is, every employee (whether working remotely or on-site) has fully integrated cybersecurity considerations into every action they take.
Network Threat Detection
Remember that network security should not be limited to defense. One primary reason for this is the increasing spate of zero-day attacks. Organizations should be actively hunting down threats. A network can remain breached for several days while the attacker continues to perform exploits in the background, remaining completely hidden from the information security team/department.
This is where the importance of visibility comes in. Infosec teams should be able to monitor network traffic at all times, flagging down suspicious movements, especially naive actions taken by employees that may expose an endpoint. This requires the use of advanced security tools (including artificial intelligence and machine learning) to monitor the network in real-time.
Incident response is integral to threat mitigation. And when an organization’s network is hit, time is of the essence. Detecting the breach early and taking active steps immediately can go a long way in limiting the impact of an attack. First, organizations should have an active incident response policy and plan. The worst situation to be in after a cyberattack is one of confusion.
There must be responsibility guidelines set in the event of a cyberattack. At what point does the cybersecurity team take over employee’s devices? What kind of attacks should be isolated and what kind of attacks require a network shutdown? These questions are critical. In addition, there must also be regular backups and an active insurance policy that covers business liability in the case of a network breach.
Network security is no joke, and it does involve major preparation and investment, but every effort is worth the protection. Companies need to review their existing cybersecurity arrangements for loopholes. Finally, remember that cybersecurity is a continuous affair; no policy is set in stone, and no solution is a magic potion. Always keep your tactics updated.