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Reducing The Network Security Gap Across the Enterprise

Nowadays, business networks comprise many remote access connections between employees and outsourcing companies. Too often, the security risks inherent to these connections to the outside of the network are left unnoticed. Constant improvements have been made that can enhance security in the network infrastructure of today. Putting special attention to users who access the network from outside and monitoring access end- points is crucial for businesses to protect the digital data they store

Selecting the appropriate software for the requirements of the IT infrastructure is vital for having the most secure protection. Many businesses purchase “off the shelf” security software and assume they’re secure. But that’s not the case due to the nature of today’s threats to networks. Threats are diverse in nature that include spam, spyware, viruses trojans, worms and occasionally, hackers have targeted your servers

The right security solution for your organization will neutralize nearly all of these security threats for your system. In most cases, with just the installation of a software program administrators of networks spend most of their time on the perimeter of the network defending its integrity manually fighting off attacks and then manually patching the security breach.

Paying network administrators to defend the security of your network is an expensive proposition – much more so than investing in the appropriate security measures your network requires. Network administrators have many other obligations that require their attention. One of their responsibilities is to assist your business work more efficiently. However, they can’t focus on this if they are required to maintain the network infrastructure all time.

Another threat that must be taken into account is the threat occurring from within the perimeter, in other words, an employee. Private information that is sensitive to the company is frequently stolen by an employee on the payroll. A good security system for networks should guard against these types of attacks also. Network administrators definitely have their duty in this field in establishing security policies and strictly enforcing them.

A smart strategy to give your network the protection it needs from the different security threats is to employ a multi-layered security method. Layered security provides a tailored method to meet your network’s unique requirements utilizing both hardware and software solutions. After the hardware and software are in sync to protect your company, both are in a position to immediately update their capabilities in order to take care of the latest security threats.

Security software can be configured to update several times per day if the need be; hardware updates usually consist of firmware upgrades as well as an update wizard similar to those included in the software application.

One-stop Security Solutions A multi-pronged strategy must be employed to tackle the various security threats that are present in today’s corporate networks. Many times, the source of these threats overlap with Trojans being delivered through spyware or spam hidden in the software installation. In order to combat these threats, it is necessary to usage of firewalls, antispyware, malware and anti-spam protection.

Recently an increasing trend in the world of software has been to blend these previously separate security programs into a complete security suite. Security applications standard on corporate networks are integrating into security suites that are focused on a common objective. The security suites comprise antivirus, anti-spyware, anti-spam, and firewall protection all put together into one app. Looking for the top standalone security software in each risk class is a good alternative, but is no longer necessary.

The comprehensive security suite can save a company money in lower software purchase costs and also time due to the ease of integrating the management of different threat sources.

TPM is a Trusted Platform Module (TPM)A TPM is a standard developed by the Trusted Computing Group defining hardware specifications that create encryption keys. TPM chips guard against intrusion attempts and software attacks but also physically theft of the device containing the chip. TPM chips function as an addition to user authentication to improve the security of the process.

Authentication describes all processes involved in determining whether a user granted access to the corporate network is, actually, the person that user claims to be. Authentication is most often granted through use of a password, but other methods involve biometrics that can identify a person through identifying an individual characteristic which no one else can have like fingerprints or characteristics of the eyes cornea.

In the present, TPM chips are often integrated into standard desktop and laptop motherboards. Intel began to integrate TPM chips on its motherboards as of 2003 and other motherboard manufacturers followed suit. Whether or not a motherboard comes with this chip will be reflected in the specifications of the motherboard.

These chips secure data on the local level, thereby providing increased security in remote locations like the WiFi hotspot, which is full of innocent looking computer-users who may be bored hackers with malicious intent. Microsoft’s Ultimate and Enterprise versions of the Vista Operating System utilize this technology in the BitLocker Drive Encryption feature.

While Vista does support TPM technology However, the chips aren’t dependent upon any platform to function.

TPM is a feature on Linux the same way it functions within Windows. Windows operating system. There are also specifications from the Trusted Computing Group for mobile devices, such as PDAs and mobile phones.

To benefit from TPM increased security, users of networks only have to download the security policy onto their desktop machine and run a setup wizard which will generate a set encryption keys for the computer. The simple steps listed above significantly enhances security for remote computer user.

Admission based on User Identification The identity of a user depends upon successfully passing the authentication steps. As mentioned previously, authentication for users involves more than just a username and password. Alongside the growing biometrics technology used for authentication smart cards, security tokens are a different method that can improve the user’s name and password authentication process.

The use of security tokens or smart cards introduces a physical layer requirement for authentication. This creates a two-tier security necessity, one being with a secret password, the additional requirement of hardware that security systems must understand prior to giving access.

Tokens and smart cards operate in the same way however they have a distinct appearance. Tokens have the appearance of a flash device and connection through an USB port, whereas smart cards require specialized hardware, a smart card reader that is connected to the desktop or laptop computer. Smart cards typically have the appearance of an identity badge and may contain photos of employees.

However , authentication is checked, once this happens the user will be granted access via the secure virtual network (VLAN) access. A VLAN establishes connections to the remote user as though the user was part of the internal network and allows all VLAN users to be grouped together within distinct security guidelines.

Remote users connected to VLANs should only have access to essential network resources and the ways in which they can be modified or copied should be closely monitored.

Specifications developed through the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) have produced what is known as”Secure” VLAN (S-VLAN) architecture. Also commonly referred to as tag-based VLAN, this standard is known as 802.1q. It boosts the security of VLANs through the addition of an additional tag to media access control (MAC) addresses to identify the hardware used by network adapters within a network. This will stop unidentified MAC addresses from accessing networks.

Network segmentation This idea, which works closely with VLAN connections, determines which resources users are able to access remotely using PEPs for policy enforcement (PEPs) to enforce the security policy throughout all network segment. Additionally the VLAN or S-VLAN is able to be considered as a distinct segment that has its own PEP requirements.

PEP is a component of a user’s authentication to enforce a network security policy. Every user who connects to the network need to be assured by the PEP that they have met the security requirements set forth within the PEP. The PEP determines the resources a user is able to access and how they can be altered.

The PEP for VLAN connections ought to be upgraded from what the user can do with the resources inside. This can be achieved through network segmentation simply be defining the VLAN connections as an individual segment and then implementing the same security policy throughout that segment. Defining a policy in this manner can also specify which network segments a client is able to access from an off-site location.

The practice of keeping VLAN connections in a separate segment also keeps security breaches only to this segment in the event that one should occur. This keeps the security breach from spreading to the entire corporate network. Further enhancing security of the network The VLAN segment could be handled in its own virtualized environment, thus isolating any remote connections to an organization’s network.

Centralized Security Policy Management Technology hardware and software targeting the different facets of security threats produce several software platforms that have to be handled separately. If done incorrectly, this can create a daunting task to manage a network and increase staffing costs due to the longer time required to manage the technology (whether they be hardware and/or software).

Security software suites that integrate centralize your security policies by combining all security threat attacks into one program that requires only one administration console for purposes.

Depending on the kind of business you’re in a security policy should be used corporate-wide that is all-encompassing for the whole network. Administrators and management can define the security policies in different ways however, the overriding meaning of the policy must be maintained to ensure it is consistent across the entire corporate network. This is to ensure there aren’t other security processes that are in conflict with the central policy, and also limits what the policy was formulated to be implemented.

A centralized security policy become easier to manage, but it also eases the burden on resources of the network. Multiple security policies defined by various software applications focused on a specific security issue could aggregately hog much more bandwidth than a centralized security policy that is part of the security software suite that is all inclusive. With all the dangers coming from the Web easy management and application is vital for the security of any company policy.

frequently asked questions:

1. I am confident in my employees. Why should I enhance security of my network?

Even the most trustworthy employees could be at threat to a security breach. It is important that employees follow the company’s established security procedures. In addition, it will help protect against lapsing employees and the occasional disgruntled employee seeking to harm the system.

2. Do these innovations really create an environment that is secure enough for remote access?

Yes they do. These improvements do more than improve the security of your VLAN connection but they also use well-known standards that are frequently integrated into standard software and hardware. It’s there, your company just needs to begin using the technology.

3. My company is satisfied the use of separate software, this way each application can focus on a particular security threat. Why should I look into an all-in one security suite?

Many of the popular software applications used by businesses have expanded their focus to include any security threats. This covers solutions from both hardware and software appliance manufacturers. Many of these firms saw the need to integrate security in the beginning and subsequently purchased smaller software companies to gain the experience the firm was lacking. A security suite at the application level will allow management to be much more efficient and your IT personnel will be grateful for it.

4. Do I have to add a hardware requirement to my authentication process?

It is recommended that the use of security tokens or smart cards ought to be considered when employees connect to the network of the company via an external site. Particularly, if the employee has access to confidential company information while on the road using a flash drive, a secure token prevents a thief from accessing the sensitive information on laptops that have been stolen.

5. In light of all the concerns about WiFi hotspots, are employees obliged to not use these hotspots to connect to the company network?

WiFi hotspots are popping up across the country and offer the most convenient method for remote employees to access the Internet. However, these hotspots could also be filled with bored insecure hackers with nothing better to do than seek out a way of intercepting employees’ communications at the table next to them. However, people who travel avoid hotspots. This would seriously restrict them from connecting to the network in any way. With the help of technologies such as S-VLAN and secure authentication in place businesses can use methods to mitigate threats at present and in the coming years.

Implementing the latest security tools is a top priority for IT Management. In today’s network environment with numerous users using your digital assets remotely it is essential to have your security in place at the beginning of the process of integration.

Of course, it is observed that many large organizations have multiple operating systems running (Windows or Mac OS, etc.) and for a lot of them, all-in-one security suites are faced with certain issues in a mixed OS environment.

This is the reason why I recommend that you think about having layers of security (both both software and hardware) and don’t simply rely on software applications to secure your digital assets. With the advancement of technology, as do the possibilities for security incidents.

As these security threats evolve, hardware and software developers are constantly innovating and it’s essential businesses stay on top of and use these techniques.

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