What Is Network Security And Why Does It Matter?
For a small online business or a startup company that is storing information on databases or communicating and doing business online with customers, the need for network security may not seem like a pressing consideration.
Often these sites already use an SSL certificate on their website and perhaps even Email or Client certificates to encrypt and digitally sign emails. It may appear that these SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) products offer all the security you need, but this is really not the case. While SSL/TLS products are a part of being secure online and protecting your email communications, they don't prevent attacks to your system and the data you have stored throughout your system.
To understand just what is network security and why it is so important, let's start with the basics and build up to the more advanced needs for security across a system.
To get a good idea of what is network security, a definition or explanation is always helpful. Think of a network as a car without any locks on the doors and the key always in the ignition. If there are no locks on the doors anyone can get in, turn the car on and drive around, using resources or perhaps even doing something illegal.
By putting locks on the car, you can restrict access if you have the keys. You can also set rules for using the car and enforce them since you now control access.
While this is not the same as your business model, it is pretty close. When you are trying to get a clear picture of what is network security, think of a set of policies and tools that are used to ensure that there is no unapproved access to the network, that the network cannot be manipulated, changed or shut down by anyone with authorized access.
Within any business, the network holds a variety of files. These could include customer credit or debit card numbers, intellectual property, data on your business or any other type of information. Without network security to restrict access to your server and devices anyone could access that data.
With the question, what is network security out of the way, it is time to look a bit closer at how that level of control is achieved. One way that access to a server, database, file or email client is achieved is through the use of a password and ID combination. Both the password and login ID have to be entered correctly or the access is denied.
There is also two factor authentication option. This includes the use of the ID and password combination as well as access from a specific device. For example, you may have to log in and use a password and be on your desktop or laptop computer. Other systems may require you have a specific security token such as a digital certificate on a mobile device.
In addition to individual access, there are system-wide elements of security in place. This includes the use of a firewall that prevents access to specific sites by users to avoid sites that have known issues with malware. If a person on the network and behind the firewall tries to go to one of these websites, the request is blocked.
Finally, most companies will also include anti-virus software. This designed to prevent malware, which can include viruses and spyware, from coming from outside of the network into the network. This is the preventative element in understanding what is network security.
Other systems may also be in use. This will typically include the use of routine network security scanning software. The software continually looks for areas of weakness or vulnerability in the network or in devices connected to the network.
Like the anti-virus and malware protection programs, this is a preventative scan. Different scanners may automatically look for patches or updates to secure the vulnerability while others may generate a report and then the IT administrator or person responsible will need to download and install the patches and updates.
While not all network security is complicated, the larger the number of devices and users the more complex the system will become. In most small to large businesses IT professionals handle the security aspects of the network to protect the company and prevent breaches that can be incredibly costly.
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