Network Security: A Key Imperative

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Network security refers to the set of activities or measures taken to protect your office/ company network and ensure network threat management and remediation. Network security ensures that a network is protected while sending, receiving and storing data and identifies potential threats or malware and takes preemptive action. By increasing network security, you ensure data protection and data loss prevention thereby securing the overall business set up.

The absence of effective network security exposes your network to malicious actors who can penetrate your servers and siphon off sensitive information, slow down operations or take your systems offline. Such an attack has the potential to cause extensive damage — both in terms of costs and compromised reputation. A system breach adversely impacts the trust painstakingly built with other stakeholders and makes them hesitant to work with you. Depending on the severity, a security breach can result in lawsuits further exposing the business to negative media attention.

Therefore, network security has attracted the highest level of attention from enterprises and governments. In 2013, Target Corporation, a leading US retailer, suffered a network security breach in which 40 million payment cards were compromised. Two years later, Target reported that it spent nearly USD 290 million in settling lawsuits filed by banks, credit card providers and others.

Sometimes, employees unintentionally endanger their organization’s network security. By visiting websites and accessing junk emails, they bring malicious programs into the network that later lift off passwords and other sensitive content.  Other ways include password attacks, wherein critical information is stolen because of leaked username and password, and IP address spoofing, wherein hackers use the IP address to impersonate a machine in the network. The rise of content sharing in social media has also heightened the level of vulnerability in organization networks.

Given the spate of cyber events targeted at networks, businesses can ignore network security only at their own peril. Organizations should therefore accord top priority to securing their network.

The following are some of the things to consider while implementing network security measures:

1.    Roadmap: Create a framework of security procedures and policies for ensuring a secure network and educate employees about network security procedures, and software. Employees should be vigilant while exchanging data with the outside world. It is also necessary to regularly undertake IT infrastructure security assessments to ensure that all hardware and software are free of threats.

2.    Access governance: Adopt an effective access governance policy to have visibility and control over who has access to what. Make sure that access to sensitive files is need-based.

3.    Threat management: Curtail the use of USBs and other devices in a network computer, and allow download of content only from Firewall approved websites. Curb internet access to prevent the inadvertent download of malware.

4.    Firewall: Install a firewall on your network to create a barrier between your network and the World Wide Web.  A firewall continuously monitors traffic for malicious content based on pre-defined rules.  If the content is secure, data exchange is allowed, otherwise it is blocked.

Businesses with effective network security realize many benefits — prevention of business disruption, higher employee productivity, regulatory compliance, and customer data protection, which in turn averts lawsuits. A security breach exposes a business to reputation risk — a reputation built over years can be destroyed in minutes. A high degree of network security is vital to protecting the reputation of your business, which is an invaluable asset.

[1]Reuters, Target in $39.4 million settlement with banks over data breach,

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