What is Network Security?

Silhouette of a hacker isloated on blackMost business owners know that they need to protect their computer systems, but it’s difficult for busy people to keep up with information technology lingo. In our “What is…” series, we define and explain technical terms in plain language.

So what exactly is network security? What are the potential threats to your network, and how could it impact your business?

The obvious definition of network security is the process of securing a network against external threats. But network security can also be defined as the process of allowing your company to reap the benefits of a protected computer network, including maintaining employee productivity, maximizing daily efficiency, fulfilling mandatory regulatory requirements, and keeping assets such as company information and customer data from falling into the wrong hands. Network security also enhances the reputation of your organization; both internal and external customers need to know that you are keeping their information safe.

Many business owners do not understand the sheer number and diversity of the potential threats against their networks, which include:

  • Viruses, worms, Trojan horses
  • Spyware and adware
  • Attacks from hackers
  • Denial of service attacks
  • Data and identity theft

Some of these attacks would not shut down your network entirely, but would impair the usability of the network or make data available to outside parties, with or without your knowledge. Multiple layers of security are required to detect, confine, and eliminate threats from a variety of sources. At the same time, employees need to have access to certain parts of the network to do their jobs. Considerable knowledge and expertise is required to achieve this delicate balance.

The activities performed to secure networks are in continual flux because of the ever-changing nature of information technology. Your network security team needs to be capable of reacting quickly when new threats are introduced. Network security involves a customized approach; security components may include:

  • Authentication protocol (usernames and passwords)
  • Anti-viral and anti-spyware software
  • A firewall to block unauthorized users from the network
  • Intrusion prevention systems to detect threats that spread quickly through the network
  • Virtual Private Networks for secure remote access
  • An IT security policy for employees

You’ve probably seen many news reports about network security breaches and wondered if and when your business could be affected. The generous budgets of large companies do not make them immune to these threats. On the other hand, the smaller networks of small- and medium-sized businesses do not mean that they will escape the notice of hackers or avoid a virus. Every network is vulnerable to security problems.

To learn more about how to maximize the benefits of network security for your organization, contact us.

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