Network Security Basics

Why you must be both proactive and reactive

In an age where it seems any company could be the next victim of a highly visible cyber-attack, it’s almost hard to believe that CSOs are able to get any sleep at night. If companies as large as Equifax and Target can fall prey to security breaches, then what chance do smaller companies with less security staff have? Add to the mix the fact that Cisco recently discovered that half a million of their devices across 54 countries are networked for an upcoming cyber-attack and it seems like a living nightmare for anybody responsible for network security.

It should go without saying that the cornerstone of any security strategy is prevention. Being proactive and taking all available measures to prevent any intrusion or corruption of a company’s network is a very important first step in securing your network. Making sure that intrusion detection and intrusion prevention solutions are in place, as well as a strategy to prevent denial of service attacks, are important steps in taking a proactive approach to network security.

Proactive network security consists of monitoring network traffic in order to try and identify suspicious use or known attacks/security breaches. In an ideal world, all attacks and breaches would be 100% prevented. This is what most security teams strive for, but there also must be a plan for when this isn’t the case.

When prevention fails…

While prevention is always the goal, it is important to have systems in place to identify when breaches do occur and address them swiftly to minimize exposure. Most proactive network security measures act on the assumption that attacks are almost exclusively going to be coming from the outside. By treating all traffic originating from within the network, or a segment of the network, as “trusted,” companies open themselves up to a different kind of threat and need to be prepared for it.

As companies continue to migrate to hybrid cloud solutions while maintaining some legacy applications, the idea of what is actually “trusted” traffic gets more complicated and much riskier. Hybrid environments not only complicate the notion of what traffic is safe, but also have the opportunity to create security gaps that are easily exploited by experienced hackers.

To this end, it is important for companies to have a strategy around detection and response that is every bit as robust as their prevention strategy. Early detection and a detailed response plan go a long way in early identification and minimization of exposure should a breach occur. Security information and event management software (SIEM) serve to give companies real time analysis of security alerts coming from applications as well as network hardware. Analysis of these logs not only increase the likelihood of preventing an attack but also give teams everything they need to detect any problems early and act upon them.

While prevention is the primary goal, it is important to take steps allowing for early detection and swift response as hybrid Cloud environments and more complex network architecture, as well as the IoT movement, increase the likelihood of breaches or sensitive data exposure.

Security includes mobile devices, too

Speaking of the “Internet of Things,” it is absolutely imperative for any security strategy to have an IoT plan. All too often no plan is put into place before company employees start using IoT technologies, leading to an increased risk for allowing outsiders to access company information. Target learned this lesson the hard way by allowing themselves to get hacked due to a network-based thermostat.

Failure to plan is planning to fail, and not getting out in front of the IoT movement is quite possibly one of the biggest mistakes an IT team make in today’s technology landscape.

A good first step is to identify where mobile devices and IoT deployments fit within a network architecture and to identify what possible security risks they will bring with them before deployment. By taking this step first security teams have the opportunity to plan for these potential threats and take preventative measures.

There are tools available to make this easier as IoT continues to change the landscape of the mobile workforce. Solutions ranging from identity and access management (IAM) and mobile device management, all the way to secure mobile application management allows IT teams to leverage proven solutions for common security threats brought on by an increase in mobile users.

By leveraging cloud-based identity-driven security, it is possible to safeguard company data on-prem and in the Cloud regardless of the location of users. These solutions also create a unique opportunity to track individual users’ behavior and track their usage to give companies the opportunity to better identify when usage is out of the ordinary and should be considered suspicious.

The workforce will only become more mobile and IoT applications are becoming more prevalent on a daily basis. Finding a way to keep company data secure across mobile devices is a challenge of the utmost importance for modern IT professionals.

Get ready to go ‘threat hunting’

Knowledge is power. Thanks to modern threat detection and prevention tools (some of which are discussed above), IT teams have more power at their fingertips than ever before. Detailed logs of incoming and outgoing traffic paired with user behavior analysis allow security professionals to build threat profiles more thorough than ever before. Thanks to machine learning and artificial intelligence, more accurate threat profiles are allowing teams to respond to emerging attacks much more effectively. Not only does this information aid in prevention, but also greatly improves the ability of IT teams to investigate and solve for existing security issues.

There are also managed security providers now specializing in “threat hunting” services which leverage all of this information along with deep packet scans to identify suspicious behavior, analyze network traffic and data, analyze interactions with possible bad actors and perform Dark-Web scans. By leveraging all of this additional information, along with security professionals well-versed with modern threats, these “threat hunting” services could very well be the missing piece of many IT team’s security strategy.

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Summary

As consumers and businesses both continue to store their sensitive information within Cloud environments, network security is a subject that will only become more important in the future. Keeping company and customer data secure is imperative to maintain customer trust and protect company interest as well as prevent situations where your company is literally paying for access to their own systems.

While it is a wild and scary world when it comes to cyber-security, pairing proactive and reactive plans with a detailed analysis of the massive amounts of information available to modern IT professionals is necessary to make sure that the next time your company makes the news it isn’t due to a security breach that could forever change the future of the company as well as the public perception of it.

About EnableIP

EnableIP is a telecom solutions provider founded by Wired Networks’ founder Jeremy Kerth and head engineer Steve Roos after they realized there was a deep market need for helping mid-size businesses establish better uptime rates for their Wide Area Networks (WANs). Armed with the best-in-class carriers and partners, Jeremy and Steve set out with a bold plan: Guarantee better uptime rates than the industry standard of only 99.5%.

Their bold plan became a reality. EnableIP’s solutions guarantee clients 99.99% (even 99.999%) network uptime. But we don’t stop there. Many telecom providers promise high availability network solutions but fail to deliver because they’re in the business of providing services, not solutions.

That’s the EnableIP difference: We deliver highly available networks by providing a complete system (called “Cloud Assurance”) that ensures 99.99% or above uptime.

We deliver this bold promise by:

  • Owning the entire customer experience. From pricing, contracting, ordering and provisioning to installing, servicing and billing—we do it all! This means no stressful negotiations, confusing setups, or finger pointing if something goes wrong. We actually deliver on our promise.
  • We manage the entire system, and monitor and manage issues as they occur so you can focus on your business—not your network.
The EnableIP solution is like no other. Contact us to get started and experience the difference of a system that truly delivers on its 99.99% network uptime promise.