Network Security: What Is It and Why Do You Need It?

Prevention is better than cure. If you don’t want others to hack your system, then upgrade it before they do.

Steven Krohn

Cyber-attacks are common, taking place every hour of every day. Most of these will be minor and may go completely unnoticed for a long time — If they’re ever discovered.

Occasionally, however, a larger attack occurs. Significant amounts of personal, valuable data can be stolen. This is then either ransomed or sold — or both.

Examples of these high-level attacks include the 2014 Sony Pictures scandal, attributed to North Korea or Russian cyber-attacks on the US Presidential elections. Financial institutions of various sizes are frequent targets.

This information isn’t stored or accessed by a single machine in an office somewhere. Instead it exists on a network of computers and servers, sometimes spread out across multiple continents.

The more devices there are connected to the network, the more potential access points there are for cyber-attacks.

This is where network security comes in.

Network Security Basics

Network security is, simply put, the process of securing the underlying network infrastructure of an organization. This is much, much easier said than done.

At a glance, network security seeks to protect the network and its content from “unauthorized access, misuse, malfunction, modification, destruction or leaks”.

Security is a complex operation; the larger the network, the more complex the measures needed to keep it safe. There are multiple facets, including:

    • Routers
    • Firewalls
    • Anti-malware software applications
    • User education

Cyber attackers are constantly looking for vulnerabilities in network security. Information security analysts are needed to work just as tirelessly keeping everything up to date. Each part of the system must be continuously monitored for effectiveness.

Why is Network Security Necessary

Businesses often hold a lot of personal data about clients, customers, or users. Medical facilities contain highly valuable financial and medical data; banks have valuable personal and financial data, and so on.

Failing to properly secure sensitive information is expressly against the law in most countries. Even if no cyber-attack occurs, companies found to be lacking adequate network security can be at risk of fines or penalties.

Should data be compromised in an attack, companies can be hit with huge fine or forced to close. Not only that, they are open to lawsuits from affected parties.

Protecting this data keeps organizations compliant with all relevant laws, and also fosters security and good will with both existing and potential clients.

Is Network Security Just for Large Organizations?

Not at all. Organizations of all size should pay attention to their network security.

In fact, securing your personal home network is also important. Even within the confines of your home, there are often multiple devices and routers connected to your network. Each of these presents a potential security risk to all of your most sensitive data.