What is IT Network Security?

what is it network security

Today’s network architecture is more complex than ever. This comes with its share of benefits – from enhanced connectivity to increased production. However, it also means that an IT network’s threat landscape is always evolving. From sophisticated phishing strategies to SQL injection attacks, cyber criminals are working day and night to find new network vulnerabilities to exploit. Find out what’s changed in recent years and how to stay on top of the developments…

The ever-evolving threat landscape of IT networks

There is one clear reason why IT network security is more prevalent nowadays than ever before. In our current hyper-connected IT environment, most companies are transitioning to private and public clouds to store data and run entire operating systems. Well aware of this transition, cyber criminals have started targeting networks and cloud services. Even the world’s biggest companies – such as Microsoft or Google – have decided to ramp up their cloud security measures as a result.

Since 2020, a large number of companies have established remote working options. Due to time concerns, some organisations simply rushed through their cloud migration processes. The consequences that this has had for IT network security are disastrous. For instance, the UK Government’s Cyber Security Breaches Survey 2021 revealed that 47% of companies had staff using personal devices for work. Without the correct measures in place, this can easily lead to data theft and network breaches.

So how can companies find a way to protect themselves from these relentless attacks on their network services? Enter IT network security – a broad term that encompasses a myriad of technologies, devices and processes designed to protect computer networks and data.

What is IT network security exactly?

IT network security refers to both software and hardware solutions – meaning that it is a holistic set of processes that protect networks from start to finish. By employing multiple lines of defence, IT network security architectures prevent the entry of alien threats.

You could break down these lines of defence into three categories.

Firstly, there’s physical network security, which involves the protection of hardware, software and networks from physical actions that could lead to data loss, equipment damage or unexpected downtime.

Then there’s technical network security, which protects stored data through software solutions such as firewalls or load balancers.

Finally, there’s administrative network security, which refers to a set of security policies put in place to control user behaviour.

Now that we’ve clarified the basics of IT network security, let’s see how you can improve it.

How to improve IT network security

Establishing a strong IT network security defence is all about making your organisation a more difficult target to attack. We have identified four security measures that will make your IT networks impenetrable.

Business firewalls

Firewalls are security devices that monitor incoming and outgoing network traffic. In plain English, they are your network’s bouncers – keeping an eye on who’s coming in and who’s leaving. Implementing an effective firewall is the first step towards achieving full IT network protection. A firewall will prevent hackers from accessing your system, as well as stop spyware from being installed by mistake by one of your employees.

With the increase in data theft, firewalls have become more important than ever. The tricky part is that not all firewalls work for all kinds of businesses. For example, small companies experiencing rapid growth will need to update and scale their firewall solution accordingly. That’s why it’s best practice to invest in a fully managed, scalable firewall solution that caters to your industry’s threat landscape.

Risk assessment

In IT, we use the term ‘risk assessment’ to refer to the process of surveying and analysing potential threats to your IT systems. Risk assessment also involves exploring your system’s vulnerabilities to fix any security holes that could leave your network exposed. Although risk assessments should be conducted on a regular basis, they are particularly important when new processes or technologies are implemented.

For example, companies looking to transition to a cloud model should perform a thorough risk assessment as soon as possible. This will allow them to observe how their vulnerabilities have changed over time. On top of that, performing regular risk assessments lets companies allocate their cyber security budget smartly.

Network patch management

This might sound obvious, but having an up-to-date network goes a long way toward protecting you from potential threats. And yet more and more companies overlook such an essential aspect of IT network security. In May 2017, the WannaCry ransomware attack targeted computers running obsolete Windows operating systems. More than 200,000 computers all over the world were attacked – with damages totalling billions of dollars.

Without a doubt, the worst thing about WannaCry is that it could’ve easily been avoided. When it comes to cyber security, being ahead of the curve is half the job. And all it takes to keep your systems updated is a solid patch management solution. We use this term to refer to the set of system processes that identify, test and install patches or code changes. A patch management service will update your devices and networks remotely – meaning that you will maintain efficiency and capability whilst minimising downtime.

VPN encryption

VPNs have existed for a long time, but it is only thanks to the normalisation of remote working that it has truly become the talk of the town. Most companies with a substantial part of their workforce based remotely have implemented VPN encryption. VPN stands for Virtual Private Network, and it basically makes the data going between a device and the VPN server unreadable to anyone else.

You can think of a VPN as a sort of network tunnel. It routes your internet traffic through an encrypted connection that ensures that your information does not leave the tunnel. Apart from securing your network, VPNs allow you to hide your private information and avoid bandwidth throttling – meaning you’ll work efficiently wherever you are. Even better, VPNs protect you from network eavesdropping when using a public network. Who said working from a café is dangerous?

Avoid being an easy target

As you read this, thousands of cyber criminals are trying to come up with a way to breach your network and obtain access to your data. But don’t worry – you can easily keep them at bay. How? By creating a strategic defensive approach to IT network security that will grant you full protection from internal and external threats. At OGL, we offer advanced cyber security services that will turn your IT network into a fortress – from managed patch management to expert risk assessment.

OGL's IT Security Solutions