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The changing nature of cyber threats and steps to overcome them

Despite all the security measures that the IT department of an organization undertakes, cyber threats today have mutated in various forms, often one step ahead. The growing threats have prompted businesses to utilize the services of external cybersecurity firms that regularly function as full-fledged security services.

Many banking and financial services and essential services industries have made it mandatory to have cybersecurity compliances in place. It calls for an outsourcing agreement that effectively monitors an organization's system on a 24X7 basis. Other businesses do an annual review to check if any breach has happened. If the risks have escalated, then appropriate steps are taken. Even if there is no increase in material risk, the system is still vulnerable to changing threats posed by cybercriminals.

Cyber risks post the Covid-19 scenario

The traditional approach to cybersecurity also undergoes tactical changes post the Covid-19 scenario. With organizations relocating many of their workforces to remote work from home, the risk of a cyber breach can increase manifold because of reduced organizational controls on the workforce. Unintentional data breaches can happen when employees make mistakes, resulting in a considerable impact on business operations. All organizations are aware of these impacts and working towards better training and security tools that are less intrusive to productivity when working from home.

New threats, new defenses

Attack methodology has been changing as networks change. Cyber attackers are known to be one step ahead, and the speed with which they adapt to new infrastructures makes it challenging for identifying and blocking malicious traffic that includes

  • Spear-phishing techniques using deceptive emails enable hackers to bypass defenses and install ransomware in the system.
  • Low lying attacks allow ransomware to go undetected, evade network-based defense, and allow attackers to infiltrate infrastructure and take data over an extended period without anyone noticing it.
  • Malware as a service or a kit has been a medium used by bad actors and criminal organizations to engage in cyberattacks such as malicious crypto mining.

Network security and its functions

It is a broad term that covers devices, processes, and different technologies. In simple terms, it is a configuration and a set of rules designed to protect the accessibility, confidentiality, and integrity of a computer network, including both the software and hardware.

Irrespective of their size, every organization requires a certain degree of network security to protect its IT infrastructure and its critical business data. The network architecture is complex, and attackers always look to exploit any vulnerability in the network. Any weak point in the network, especially in IoT, can cause downtime that can disrupt the supply chain and cause massive financial and reputational loss to the organization.

There are multiple layers in a network. Hence, these need to be considered when addressing security issues. Attacks can happen at any layer, so a security policy must address the hardware and software.

Network security consists of controls at three different levels; Physical, technical, and administrative. Let us see how each control works.

Physical Network security

This security prevents unauthorized people from accessing the physical network components such as servers, routers, cabling cabinets, and other physical devices. For security purposes, controlled access like locks, biometric authentication, passwords is essential in an organization.

Technical Network Security

This security pertains to data stored in the networks or transmission in the internal network to an external network. Since data is involved, it needs protection from external hackers and internal threats, such as an employee's malicious activity.

Administrative Network security

Security policies and processes control the behavior of users, the level of access and authorization that is allowed to set of users, and how IT staff members implement changes to the network infrastructure.

Different types of Networks Security

We have discussed the three types of network security controls. Now let us see the various ways one can secure their organization's IT network.

Network Access Control

To ensure that malicious hackers do not infiltrate the network, complete access control policies have become an essential need of an organization to keep its devices and users safe and secured. The Network access control (NAC) is required at a granular level to be effective, and there is no leakage. For example, one could allow administrators full access to the network but exclude confidential folders or prevent administrators from joining their devices to the organization network.

Anti-virus and Anti-malware Software

It is straightforward protection that can't be ignored, and the software needs to be installed without a second thought. The Anti-virus and anti-malware software safeguard the organization from malicious software, including ransomware, viruses, trojans, worms, and many more. The best anti-virus software not only scans any file that enters a network but continuously scans and tracks files 24X7.

Firewall Protection

Firewalls act as a "wall or barrier" between an untrusted external network and the organization's trusted internal network. Administrators configure a set of defined rules that allows or blocks traffic into the network. Firewalls are managed centrally, whether physical, virtual, or cloud-based, and controls network traffic irrespective of the boundaries.

Virtual Private Networks

Virtual private networks or VPNs create a connection to the network from another site or endpoint. For example, employees remote working from home or any location can connect to the organization's network over a VPN. Data is encrypted between two networks, and users need to authenticate to allow communication between their device and the network. Software-defined wide area network or SD-WAN facilitates organizations to create VPNs using the drag-and-drop and protect all locations from any VPN vulnerability drawbacks by using a Firewall solution.

Network Security for consumers

Given the increased threats from cyber-attacks, Network security is undoubtedly a high priority for any organization that works with networked systems and data. Apart from protecting the assets and integrity of critical data from external attacks, network security allows efficient network traffic, improves network performance, and ensures secured data sharing between employees and data sources.

Today, there is no shortage of tools, applications, and utilities that can secure networks from attacks protect organizations from losses.

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