The Essential Network Security Checklist

We live under the constant threat of data breaches and ransomware attacks. Worrying about network security is a natural response to the alarming number of cyberattacks occurring daily. As a business owner or administrator, a secure network is your primary responsibility.

If you are just getting started with securing your network environment or need a checklist to ensure all necessary measures are being taken – this A-To-Z guide to network security is for you! 

So, let’s get started.

What is Network Security? 

Network security is an umbrella term covering various technologies, policies, processes, and devices. It is a system designed to secure a network’s confidentiality, integrity, and accessibility. The central focus of network security procedures and tools is to prevent unauthorized network access and intrusions while safeguarding digital assets present within the network.  

Network security is a combination of hardware and software technologies, including human intelligence assets such as security analysts and incident responders. Multi-layered network security protects your organization from a wide range of cyberattacks.

Why is Network Security Important? 

The cost of cybercrime damages is estimated to reach $10.5 trillion annually by 2025. Even a tiny fraction of that amount can cause established businesses to fold. Besides financial losses, suffering a cyberattack causes operational and productivity loss with long-term reputational damage.  

IT networks are the entryway to your organization. Hackers have more than one way of breaching your network. Multi-vector attacks, where hackers attack your network through various entry points, are a common practice of hackers. Having just a firewall or antivirus software is not adequate security. You need a combination of security tools and policies that work together on multiple levels. 

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As a socially responsible business, you also owe your clients, partners, and vendors a secure network. Third-party supply chain attacks have become alarmingly common since 2020. If you expect your partners and vendors to keep your data secure, then it is your responsibility as a business owner to ensure a safe in-house environment.  

Suggested Reading: 6 Cloud Security Challenges You Should Know About In 2022

The Essential Network Security Solutions You Need:  

Here is a list of all the network security technologies and solutions you need to incorporate into your cybersecurity infrastructure.  

1. Firewall

 A firewall protects your network perimeter by filtering incoming and outgoing traffic based on previously established security policies. Essentially, a firewall acts as a barrier between the secure internal network and the Internet.

Firewalls can be hardware or software-based and can vary in capabilities. The best firewall solution for organizations that work on the cloud is next-generation firewalls (NGFW). NGFW blocks malware and application-layer attacks and can be integrated with intrusion prevention systems.  

2. Access Control 

Ensuring only necessary and authorized personnel have access to your network is a crucial security component. Not every user needs the same level of access either. With network access control, your security infrastructure recognizes each user and device to accordingly allocate network access.   

Access control solutions block non-compliant endpoint devices or only give them limited control. Users and endpoints are authorized after the evaluation of login credentials. Multifactor authentication (MFA) is an essential component of access control policies.  

3. Anti-malware

Malware, including viruses, trojans, worms, spyware, ransomware, and keyloggers, is designed to spread throughout the IT network and infect all assets. They can result in data compromise and long-term damage to the network.

Anti-malware solutions identify malicious programs and block them before they have a chance to spread. You need an anti-malware solution that does more than scan for malware upon entry. Optimum malware solutions continuously track files already in the network and detect anomalies and infections.  

4. Email Security

Human-related security weaknesses are a significant vulnerability in network security. Email-based phishing attacks target email recipients and tricks them into sharing confidential information or downloading malware into the network.  

Email security tracks inbound and outbound emails to detect malicious content and provides multi-layered email content analysis, sender identity verification, and imposter detection. Securing your inbox against phishing attacks is an essential network security step.  

Suggested reading: 8 Best Email Security Practices To Follow in 2022 

5. Data Loss Prevention (DLP) 

DLP includes data loss and data leakage prevention and is used by organizations to prevent data breaches. This network security solution protects your crucial data from being illicitly transferred outside the organization.   

In the age of remote workers and BYOD environments, DLP policies are necessary for implementing a secure mobile workforce. 

6. Intrusion Prevention Systems(IPS)

One of the most critical network security tools, intrusion prevention, and detection systems scan network traffic and actively detect and block attacks. IPS works best when integrated with next-generation firewalls, which analyze content packets and filter network traffic. 

Ensure that your IPS tool has enough power to scan high traffic volumes without impacting network performance.  

7. Endpoint security 

With employees working remotely and using personal devices for work, the vulnerabilities in network security have dramatically increased. Personal devices are a preferred target of hackers due to low cybersecurity measures.  

Endpoint security, like managed EDR, MDR, and XDR, add additional layers of network security by delivering round-the-clock monitoring and user behavior analysis capabilities.  

8. Network Segmentation

This architectural approach to security divides the network into multiple small parts, or subnets, where each section acts as a mini network. Network administrators can enforce granular policies based on each section’s usage and traffic.  

Network segmentation boosts security efficiency by improving monitoring and localizing technical issues.  

18 Key Network Security Measures to Follow: 

Having all the right solutions in place is fifty percent of the work. A robust network security infrastructure depends on correct tool configuration and accurate security policies. The following are network security best practices to ensure: 

  1. Maintain and configure network firewall adequately. 
  2. Regularly change your firewall password. 
  3. Ensure “Deny All” is the default setting on all access lists. 
  4. Rules are documented and authorized by security experts. 
  5. Update the rules and policies at regular intervals. 
  6. All alerts are logged and investigated. 
  7. Keep a close eye on network devices. 
  8. Purchase equipment and download firmware, upgrades, and patches only from authorized sources. 
  9. Ensure devices use Wi-Fi Protected Access. 
  10. Disable ports that are not in use and turn off all unnecessary services. 
  11. Monitor physical access to devices and routers. 
  12. Use only version 3 of Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP), as it is secure from IP spoofing attacks. 
  13. Conduct regular vulnerability assessments and patch management. 
  14. Install updates as soon as they become available. 
  15. Use only licensed software. 
  16. Use a patch management solution. 
  17. Organize security awareness training programs for your employees and train them on necessary security protocols.  
  18. Consider hiring a managed security service provider for comprehensive network security. They keep your infrastructure updated against all the latest emerging threats.  

Suggested Reading: 6 Benefits of Managed Security Services(MSS) That You Should know

ACE Managed Security Services

Network security is no simple matter. It is also not an easy process. Building and maintaining a robust network security infrastructure takes constant supervision, foresight, technical skills, and a multi-layered and proactive approach. Halfhearted measures will do more harm than good. 

Secure Your Organisation with ACE Managed Security

ACE Managed Security Services provides the total network security package with multiple solutions, round-the-clock monitoring, and global threat intelligence. With ACE, you get managed EDR, email security, SIEM, Firewall, DNS filtering, and vulnerability assessment from a single source.

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