Top 12 Network Security Measures You Can’t Ignore

Meeba Gracy

Meeba Gracy

Jan 14, 2024

Network security measures

In the early days of the internet, Trojans were used to breach networks, and effective security solutions to prevent Trojans were developed. Today, trojans are a thing of the past. Bad actors now rely on phishing, spear phishing, and other social engineering-based attack vectors. 

Network security measures for these vectors are now in shape; organizations now mandate security training and conduct periodic sessions to educate their entire workforce on the methods, impact, and implications of security incidents. 

Tomorrow, bad actors will replace their current arsenal with something that is more potent and efficient. Hackers will always be more motivated to find new ways to penetrate secure networks than the security forces that defend them. Such is life!

That said, businesses have multiple ways to protect their business environments. Implementing security measures and maintaining them tops the list. We’ve listed the 12 security measures you can’t ignore. 

While some may seem basic and over the top, it is imperative to understand that your security posture is the most effective when all its parts work in cohesion. So let’s get started.

Define network security measures

Network security methods are the processes, policies, and resources you implement to defend your critical systems from external threats. They help you add specific security controls to your network and safeguard your system’s confidentiality, integrity, and availability from cyber threats.

Typically, system security in network security involves virus or antivirus software, VPN encryption, network analytics, and other private network-related security protocols.

Why are network security measures important?

Network security measures are important because they protect your data from cyber attacks and breaches. Most importantly, it prevents cybercriminals from getting their hands on valuable data and sensitive information. 

Once hackers grab hold of this kind of data, it opens the door to a range of problems like identity theft, stolen assets, and damage to your reputation.  

This is especially true when malware attacks cost a company an average of over $2.5 million, according to the report from Purplesec (including the time needed to resolve the episode).

This is why a secure network doesn’t just safeguard your business but also ensures smooth operations. A good system, free from unnecessary tools, enhances efficiency. 

When effective solutions replace persistent network issues, interruptions decrease. With fewer compromises, intrusions, and downtime, your network’s efficiency increases, boosting your overall business productivity.

Get Ahead of Breach Scenarios

List of network security measures you must take

This list is an amalgam of essential to-dos and complex security processes that help your business defend against breach attempts.

Here’s a list of security measures your security posture must have:

Network security measures

1. Use a firewall

Windows and macOS have built-in firewalls that prevent unauthorized access to your business network and notify you when breach attempts are in progress. Remember to Turn them on before connecting to the internet for loss prevention.

But how does a firewall work? During packet filtering, the firewall examines data packets, comparing them against filters that contain information to identify malicious data. If a packet matches the criteria of a threat defined by a filter, it’s discarded, keeping your network safe.

Note: Network security relies greatly on firewalls, especially Next Generation Firewalls, which focus on blocking malware and attacks at the application layer.

2. Use complex passwords

Whether it’s passwords or answers to security questions, make them challenging for hackers to crack.

Try translating the answers into another language using online translation tools for security questions, be it for mobile phones or other personal devices. This makes them less predictable and harder for hackers to decipher, reducing the risk of social engineering.

Avoid using obvious or common password ideas. Stay away from sequential lists, parts of your username, personal information like your birthday or hometown, and repeated characters, and definitely don’t use the word “password” to avoid malicious activities.

To strengthen your passwords:

  • Make your passwords around 15 to 20 characters or longer. This is hard to crack.
  • Use a mix of character types, including uppercase and lowercase letters, symbols, and numbers. 
  • Avoid common character substitutions. Hackers are familiar with common swaps, so get creative to make your password even more secure.

For more information, read our article on NIST Password Guidelines

3. Install antivirus software against hacker protection

Viruses and malware can slow down your computer or, sometimes, delete important data sets. Antivirus programs like Bitdefender and Avast aim to keep your operating system safe and virus-free from unusual behavior.

Here’s how antivirus works:

  • Antivirus software continuously monitors your computer. If you download a file flagged as dangerous, you receive a notification warning you not to open it.
  • Once a threat is identified, the antivirus software swiftly removes the malware. This prevents hackers from compromising your information or system.
  • Antivirus programs conduct regular scans to ensure your computer is free from harmful viruses or malware. If any issues are detected, you receive notifications for prompt action.

4. Network access control for better security

Limiting access to your network is a powerful way to minimize potential damage from threats. Access control is a straightforward concept: it ensures that users are only provided access to specific sections (in the business environment) required to perform their jobs efficiently.

Access control can be implemented using passwords, pins, security tokens, or even biometric scans as a part of a network security solution.

However, it’s important to note that authorized users can also pose potential threats. Access control goes beyond preventing unauthorized access; it enhances network security by restricting user access and resources to only those relevant to their specific responsibilities.

5. Update your security policies regularly 

The first step to updating your network security policies is to determine your security program’s current state. This way, you can review the existing policies and procedures and align them well with your security goals.

You often need to revisit these policies to ensure they align with your current business needs and security conditions.

Also, alterations/additions made to these policies need to be communicated with the IT staff and end users. 

To simplify this process, Sprinto offers ready-made policy templates, such as a disaster recovery policy, providing a structured system. You can easily modify, approve, and implement updated policies directly within the Sprinto ecosystem.

6. Conduct security awareness training

Henry Ford said, “The only thing worse than training your employees and having them leave is not training them and having them stay.”

Hence security awareness training is crucial because many security incidents stem from inadvertent actions from insiders. Your employees need to grasp the significance of maintaining good password habits and be adept at identifying suspicious activity, SMS messages, and phone calls, among others.

Your security training should:

  • Guide how to use strong passwords and avoid personal passwords
  • Instruct to safeguard sensitive data of customers, employees, and the company
  • Compliance with standards like HIPAAPCI, and GDPR
  • Teach employees how to recognize and handle potential phishing emails
  • Instruct employees on recognizing threats from within the company
  • Illustrate how attackers may impersonate executives to defraud the company
  • Help employees understand the vulnerability of data in motion and how to protect it
  • Guidance on safeguarding physical assets like paper, desks, screens, and buildings

Getting your organization to get serious about security training could be challenging, and tracking the training progress of each employee is different from what your security team should spend their time on.

Sprinto simplifies this with its built-in checks. These checks automatically monitor the completion progress of the entire workforce for security training campaigns. When an employee(s) does not finish their security training by the completion date(usually 7-14 days), notifications are sent to the members in the escalation process to ensure 100% completion. 

Once all pending training and tests are completed, the check status switches to “Passing,” ensuring a comprehensive and timely approach to security awareness. 

7. Anomaly detection

In the past, companies manually sifted through data points to understand their systems’ performance, often struggling to uncover root causes. 

Today, anomaly detection relies more on machine learning, enabling the identification and mitigating of hard-to-spot outliers, thus safeguarding your systems.

Identifying anomalies in your company network is only possible with a baseline understanding of its normal operation. Anomaly detection engines help your network administrators analyze your network security threats, offer real-time notifications of new anomalies, and recommend resolution steps. 

Sprinto’s Continuous Monitoring Platform analyzes full data populations instead of relying on samples.

This means anomalies can be identified in real-time, allowing for swift and effective responses. This is a significant improvement over the traditional practice of corrective actions taking weeks or months after the actual exception occurs.

8. Use two-factor or multi-factor authentication

Multi-factor authentication (MFA) adds an extra layer of protection by requiring more than one piece of information for identity confirmation during login.

For example, an MFA-enabled bank account will require the user to input their ATM PIN and an OTP to process a transaction successfully. In this case, the MFA is regulated through the OTP. 

Using multiple factors makes it harder for unauthorized users to access your accounts.

9. Use a VPN

A VPN adds another layer of security by concealing your online activity from third parties.

VPNs establish secure connections, linking users to a company’s internal network or the public internet. You can commonly use VPNs to grant remote access to your employees for internal applications and data or to create a unified network across multiple office locations. It works for both their work and mobile devices.

Consider remote employees as an example. These individual users can connect directly to the business’s internal wireless network when working on-site. However, the connection must traverse the public internet for remote work, exposing it to potential on-path service attacks and data snooping.

A business VPN or another application security service encrypts the network traffic, providing a safer environment for your network resources away from prying eyes.

10. Consistent backup cycles and a strong recovery plan

Operating in an environment where breaches are not a matter of if but when, organizations must back up both operationally essential and sensitive data. As ransomware threats intensify, having a robust recovery strategy within cloud security becomes crucial to minimize downtime and costs.

A successful IT backup and recovery plan should consider all aspects of business operations. It should include the disaster recovery plan for various attack vectors, employee negligence, and other potential issues, with a clear recovery time objective.

When these plans can successfully address multiple contingencies, even in worst-case scenarios, they collectively form a comprehensive business continuity plan.

Good read: How to perform a Cloud Security Assessment?

11. Email security

Email poses a significant threat because it’s a widely used tool in every organization. Its open format allows it to be read on any device without decryption once intercepted, making it a top threat vector.

When you send an email, it doesn’t go directly to the recipient. Instead, it traverses your network infrastructure and servers, some of which may be vulnerable and unsecured. Even if your computer is secure, the goal of network security could be compromised.

Email security for email services focuses on strengthening human-related security weaknesses. Through complex and convincing phishing strategies, attackers try to persuade email recipients to share sensitive information or unknowingly download malware onto the targeted network.

12. Intrusion prevention systems

Intrusion prevention systems analyze your network perimeter to identify and respond to various types of attacks swiftly. These systems maintain a database of known attack methods, ensuring immediate recognition of threats.

How does this operate in your network?

Positioned right behind your application firewall, the Intrusion Prevention System sits in line, inspecting every packet. When it detects an anomaly, a notification is sent to the IT administrator, and simultaneously, the IPS deactivates the corporate network threat.

Key features of an IPS include:

Signature Recognition

Successful attacks often leave behind a recognizable code or signature. The IPS is equipped to identify these markers, triggering reactions when spotted in your traffic for adequate network security.

Anomaly Detection

When you sample traffic and monitoring for deviations from the baseline, the system identifies anything unusual or out of the ordinary, prompting a swift response.

Ace continuous compliance with Sprinto

Stay Secure Amidst Change: Choose Sprinto

Malicious actors now leverage intelligent AI engines to design intuitive ways to breach secure networks. Legacy methods of conducting biannual/annual scans to assess posture efficiency will crumble. 

The need of the hour is an Always-on monitoring system to scan your business environment for new anomalies and vulnerabilities. Thus taking threat management to the next level.

Enter Sprinto

Sprinto’s automated security and compliance platform is crafted to navigate through these changes effortlessly. It provides a logical, seamless, and error-free way to enhance security. With Sprinto, you can fortify your defenses without investing extensive time and effort.

Talk to our security compliance experts to know how you can fuse security and compliance to get compliant and build a robust security posture.

FAQs

What are the principles of network security?

The basic principles of network security rely on three simple things: Confidentiality, Integrity, and Availability. Your network security measure should be designed in such a way that you implement one of the above principles.

What are the different types of network security devices and tools?

There are many different types of network security tools you can use in your system. The list is:

  • Firewall
  • Access control
  • Intrusion detection system
  • Proxy server
  • Web filter
  • Host intrusion prevention

What is a network security device?

Network security devices help in supporting your network security measures. It is usually a hardware or software appliance that enables you to monitor your network.

What are control measures in cyber security?

Control measures in cyber security usually help detect and mitigate any network threats and cyber-attacks. For this to work, you must install access control, firewall, or encryption measures.

Meeba Gracy

Meeba Gracy

Meeba, an ISC2-certified cybersecurity specialist, passionately decodes and delivers impactful content on compliance and complex digital security matters. Adept at transforming intricate concepts into accessible insights, she’s committed to enlightening readers. Off the clock, she can be found with her nose in the latest thriller novel or exploring new haunts in the city.

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