If cyber threats are to be avoided, tracked, or mitigated, network security best practises and fundamentals must be implemented in every enterprise, regardless of business vertical. Network management is a set of critical security practises and strategies intended to assess, track, and control the network in the event of security breaches, unintended interference, and other issues.

In the parts that follow, we’ll look at some network security best practises that you can use to protect your company’s network.

Tip 1: Know Your Network Infrastructure

Before you can continue to protect your network against external attacks, you must first have insight into your network infrastructure. You won’t be able to secure your network until you know which hardware/software devices make up the components.

You should consider all of the following factors when developing the network security strategy:

  • Hardware (routers, switches, printers, etc.)
  • Software (firewalls, IDS/IPS, etc.) devices, and
  • Digital security certificates (SSL/TLS certificates, IoT certificates, etc.).

Tip 2: Implement Network Segmentation and Segregation Strategies

Managing the security of a large, unsegmented network (including tasks like identifying firewall policies and efficiently managing traffic flows) can be a difficult challenge. Segmenting the network into smaller chunks and creating separate confidence zones will simplify management while still isolating networks in the case of a security breach, lowering the costs and effects of a network attack.

Potential hackers have a wider attack surface in an unsegmented network so they can travel laterally across the network to manipulate business-critical data. Because of the network’s size, such a violation could go undetected. In such cases, network segmentation and segregation come in handy, allowing you to monitor how traffic flows within your environment.

Tip 3: Opt for a Data Loss Prevention Solution

Inside an enterprise, data exfiltration, or the illegal transfer of data from an endpoint (due to ransomware or insider threats), is a normal phenomenon. If the company collects, handles, or transmits confidential data (such as personally identifiable information [PII], payment card industry [PCI] data, customer information, and so on), it could be subject to an enforcement law requiring it to secure the data. Regardless of legal standards, it is prudent to recognise and monitor incidents involving sensitive data in order to prevent data breaches.

Tip 4: Conduct Awareness Training for Users and Staff

Negligent workers who are oblivious of network security best practises when it comes to ensuring proper cybersecurity hygiene are a common source of insider attacks. Employees can be easy targets for terrorists using social engineering and phishing emails, but they can also be the best shield against possible data breaches.

According to Infosecinstitute.com, a survey by an undisclosed Fortune 50 company found that teaching 35 percent of workers to recognise fake emails based on a hypothetical phishing attack reduced the chances of falling prey to such attacks by 84 percent.

Offering obligatory organization-wide cyber awareness campaigns, particularly when conducted on a regular basis, emphasises the value of network security fundamentals, IT enforcement, and password security, among other things. It also means that staff are kept up to date on various types of cybersecurity risks.

Tip 5: Conduct Third-Party Vendor Assessment

In certain cases, working for third-party vendors is inevitable. However, granting them access to your company’s network has an effect on your organization’s overall security. Since the number of access points to your network grows, make sure the security posture of these third-party providers is carefully assessed based on the amount of access they need.

According to bitsite.com, Airbus was targeted at least four times last year by its third-party supply networks, including Rolls Royce, Expleo, and two others. Hackers used virtual private networks to obtain remote access to the aerospace manufacturer’s business network in pursuit of intellectual property. Target and many other companies have also been the victims of foreign vendor assaults in the past.

Tip 6: Establish an Incident Management Plan

An crisis response strategy outlines how you can get your company back to routine activities after dealing with a cyber incident. It gives the incident prevention and incident response staff the framework and details they need to do their work.

When an incident management plan is implemented, the incident response (IR) team is activated in the case of a security violation discovered by network security surveillance. They’re in charge of reporting the incident to the right teams and working for a quick resolution. If the problem has been resolved, the next move is to recover networks so that they can resume normal operation. A business continuity/disaster recovery strategy will help ensure that the network and related systems are still available.

The Computer Security Incident Handling Guide (800-61) from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) also has some useful material on computer security incident response.

Tip 7: Administer Regular Software Updates and Patch Management

Did you know that unpatched exploits is the cause of 27% of recorded breaches? According to research from Tripwire, a technology firm, unpatched exploits were also liable for 34% of data breaches in European companies.

Updating and patching software is critical for avoiding manipulation of identified bugs in in-house or proprietary software systems. Install available security fixes and upgrades on all the applications within a set timeline that aligns with the risk management process for the whole enterprise.

Tip 8: Validate the Security of Network Devices

All of your attempts to protect your network would be in vain if your wired network systems have obvious security flaws or glitches. Consider this: How secure are the gadgets that connect to your network? There are a few topics to think about:

All network hardware (servers, desktops, routers, and so on) can be bought only from reputable suppliers and registered resellers.
Be sure to protect computers by turning off redundant utilities, disabling unassigned or unused ports, and managing default configurations, among other things.
When it comes to upgrading the network infrastructure, make sure you only download updates from trusted sources.

Tip 9: Protect Your Network Against Malware

Phishing scams are on the rise, and when it comes to malware security, one can never be too cautious. Installing an endpoint defence system (which usually contains anti-malware) on all of your network’s endpoints creates a structured, distributed layer of security along your network’s perimeter.

Using email signing certificates/personal authentication certificates (PACs) for your email clients is another way to secure your network from malware. If all of your workers use these digital credentials, which append digital signatures on any file, your employees will be able to check whether or not anyone in your company sent any unusual or dubious emails.

Tip 10: Formulate an IT Policy and Enforce It

IT regulations that are well established not only serve as directives for the staff as they carry out their responsibilities, but they also keep them responsible in the event of non-compliance. A network security policy specifies how security can be implemented and maintained through a computer network. It lays out the rules for entry, service, and so on in normal circumstances, as well as how to respond in the case of a violation.

However, in order to implement those measures, you must ensure that your workers are aware of them. According to a Kaspersky Labs report, only 12% of surveyed workers appear to be aware of their company’s IT security policies and specifications. These guidelines and regulations should be part of not just the onboarding process, but also routine cyber security trainings to keep them fresh in the minds of employees.

Tip 11: Deploy the Right Technology

In terms of resources that need to be implemented to protect the environment, there are many network security options that you can consider. Here are a few examples:

  • Firewalls,
  • Virtual private networks (VPNs),
  • Unified threat management (UTM) software, and
  • User and object behaviour analytics (UEBA) solutions are both examples of intrusion detection and prevention mechanisms (IDS/IPS).

Choose your technology so that it works together, particularly if it comes from different vendors. Since running in silos may have a detrimental effect on incident correlation and interpretation, the network information gained by a security system should be accessible by other devices.

Tip 12: Assemble the Right Security Team and Keep Their Skills Current

According to Cybersecurity Ventures, the defence sector would have 3.5 million unfilled positions by 2021, with a growing ability deficit. When many organisations compete for a small pool of security personnel, putting together the best IT security team with the requisite skill set can be difficult.

However, putting together the right people to implement and run the network is critical (deploy tools, network threat monitoring, incident handling, etc.). It’s just as important to provide them with the requisite preparation so that they can continue to improve and cultivate their skills.

In conclusion

Since the threat environment is constantly changing, protection must be adaptable. For example, protection in depth, in which security measures are spread out in layers (similar to onion layers), is no longer considered adequate to secure IT infrastructure. Instead, a defense-in-depth architecture, in which several controls are implemented at each layer of the open system interconnection (OSI) model, or a hybrid of the two, is thought to be more efficient.

Although there is no one-size-fits-all approach to building a resilient network infrastructure, the above tips for network security best practises should help you get moving in the right direction.

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