Computer security is the process of preventing and detecting unauthorized use of your computer. Prevention measures help you to stop unauthorized users (also known as “intruders”) from accessing any part of your computer system. Network security involves all activities that organizations, enterprises, and institutions undertake to protect the value and ongoing usability of assets and the integrity and continuity of operations. An effective network security strategy requires identifying threats and then choosing the most effective set of tools to combat them.
Network Security Threats
- Viruses : Computer programs written by devious programmers and designed to replicate themselves and infect computers when triggered by a specific event
- Trojan horse programs : Delivery vehicles for destructive code, which appear to be harmless or useful software programs such as games
- Vandals : Software applications or applets that cause destruction
- Attacks : Including reconnaissance attacks (information-gathering activities to collect data that is later used to compromise networks); access attacks (which exploit network vulnerabilities in order to gain entry to e-mail, databases, or the corporate network); and denial-of-service attacks (which prevent access to part or all of a computer system)
- Data interception : Involves eavesdropping on communications or altering data packets being transmitted
- Social engineering : Obtaining confidential network security information through nontechnical means, such as posing as a technical support person and asking for people’s passwords
In the field of networking, the area of network security consists of the provisions and policies adopted by the network administrator to prevent and monitor unauthorized access, misuse, modification, or denial of the computer network and network-accessible resources.
The term network security and information security are often used interchangeably. Network security is generally taken as providing protection at the boundaries of an organization by keeping out intruders (hackers). Information security, however, explicitly focuses on protecting data resources from malware attack or simple mistakes by people within an organization by use of data loss prevention (DLP) techniques. One of these techniques is to compartmentalize large networks with internal boundaries.
Network Security Tools
- Antivirus software packages : These packages counter most virus threats if regularly updated and correctly maintained.
- Secure network infrastructure : Switches and routers have hardware and software features that support secure connectivity, perimeter security, intrusion protection, identity services, and security management.
- Dedicated network security hardware and software-Tools such as firewalls and intrusion detection systems provide protection for all areas of the network and enable secure connections.
- Virtual private networks : These networks provide access control and data encryption between two different computers on a network. This allows remote workers to connect to the network without the risk of a hacker or thief intercepting data.
- Identity services : These services help to identify users and control their activities and transactions on the network. Services include passwords, digital certificates, and digital authentication keys.
- Encryption : Encryption ensures that messages cannot be intercepted or read by anyone other than the authorized recipient.
- Security management : This is the glue that holds together the other building blocks of a strong security solution.
Network Security Management for Small Homes
- A basic firewall or a unified threat management system.
- For Windows users, basic Antivirus software. An anti-spyware program would also be a good idea. There are many other types of antivirus or anti-spyware programs out there to be considered.
- When using a wireless connection, use a robust password. Also try to use the strongest security supported by your wireless devices, such as WPA2 with AES encryption.
- If using Wireless: Change the default SSID network name, also disable SSID Broadcast; as this function is unnecessary for home use.
- Enable MAC Address filtering to keep track of all home network MAC devices connecting to your router.
- Assign STATIC IP addresses to network devices.
- Disable ICMP ping on router.
- Review router or firewall logs to help identify abnormal network connections or traffic to the Internet.
- Use passwords for all accounts.
- Have multiple accounts per family member, using non-administrative accounts for day-to-day activities. Disable the guest account (Control Panel> Administrative Tools> Computer Management> Users).
- Raise awareness about information security to children
Network Security Management for Large Businesses
- A strong firewall and proxy to keep unwanted people out.
- A strong Antivirus software package and Internet Security Software package.
- For authentication, use strong passwords and change it on a weekly/bi-weekly basis.
- When using a wireless connection, use a robust password.
- Exercise physical security precautions to employees.
- Prepare a network analyzer or network monitor and use it when needed.
- Implement physical security management like closed circuit television for entry areas and restricted zones.
- Security fencing to mark the company’s perimeter.
- Fire extinguishers for fire-sensitive areas like server rooms and security rooms.
- Security guards can help to maximize security.