Network security is crucial for businesses of any size. Cyber threats are continually evolving, and cybercriminals are always looking for new ways to infiltrate networks. In 2017, organizations publicly disclosed 1,579 data breaches, 44.7 percent more than in 2016. In addition to several high-profile cybersecurity incidents, cybercriminals are increasingly attacking small and medium-sized businesses. Despite this, 77 percent of respondents in a recent survey of IT professionals said their organizations don’t have a formal cyber incident response plan in place.
In today’s environment, organizations of all types and sizes need to take steps to protect their networks and have plans for how they’ll respond if an incident occurs. Choosing the right business network security equipment is a vital part of this.
Conducting a Network Security Audit
A practical first step in the process of choosing this equipment is performing a network security audit — a comprehensive review of your cybersecurity technologies, practices and threats. This assessment will help you to establish a security baseline to assess your performance against, ensure that regulations and practices are followed and develop an ongoing security strategy. It will also help you find any areas where your security may be weak. You can then choose tools that address those needs.
You might decide to do either an external or internal audit. With an external review, you get the benefit of an unbiased, outside perspective from an experienced professional. Some regulations may require an external audit — cost is a primary barrier to conducting external reviews. Internal audits are easier to perform and less expensive but can fall prey to bias or lack of perspective. You may wish to do an external audit every year with internal audits throughout the year.
You can break your network security audit down into five steps:
- Define the Scope of the Audit: First, you need to determine what the examination will include. For example, you need to decide whether to review managed or non-managed devices or both.
- Define the Threats: Next, list the potential threats your organization faces. This list might include malware, phishing, inadvertent insiders and natural disasters.
- Prioritize According to Risk: Then, calculate the risk of each threat. Some factors that may influence this include past incidents at your organization, the trends in your industry and cybersecurity in general and the sensitivity of the information you handle.
- Assess the Current Security Conditions: By this point, you should start to have an understanding of where your organization stands cybersecurity-wise regarding the items identified in the scope of the audit.
- Decide on Steps to Reduce Risks: Next, you will determine what steps to take to address the risks affecting your organization. These actions might include improving network monitoring, updating software, educating employees and installing new equipment. Your plan should incorporate ongoing assessment of your network security.
Types of Security Equipment
Choosing the right network security solutions for your organization can be a challenging part of the audit process. To help with that, here’s an overview of 14 of the most common types of equipment, as well as how they may be able to help your organization.
1. Anti-Malware Tools
Anti-malware products help to identify, block and remove malicious software, commonly referred to as malware. This malicious software includes viruses, ransomware, spyware, worms and Trojans. Top-performing anti-malware tools can remove malware that may already be in the system and fix any damage it may have caused in addition to scanning for malware and stop them from infiltrating a network in the first place.
Anti-malware products come in the form of software that can install on individual devices, a gateway server or a dedicated network appliance. It can also be hosted either locally or in the cloud. These tools may identify malware by comparing its code to that of known malware. They may also use behavior-based detection, which involves identifying malware based on its behaviors and characteristics. If it attempts to perform an unauthorized or abnormal, the anti-malware tool will remove it. Some anti-malware programs use sandboxing, a technique in which the system tests the software in an isolated environment to determine whether it’s safe to introduce it to the rest of the network.
2. Intrusion Detection and Prevention Systems
Intrusion detection and prevention systems, or IDS and IPS, scan network traffic to block attacks. They use a database of known signatures to detect malware. Whereas anti-malware programs scan individual files, IDS and IPS scan network packets. They can detect malware, policy violations and other types of attacks. It can come as hardware or software.
IDS and IPS perform different functions. IDS passively monitors the network and detects and classifies potential threats. IPS can perform these tasks but can also prevent attacks. Some IPS can also track suspicious files across the network to prevent it from spreading. In some configurations, an IPS will identify a malicious packer before it enters the system. In others, it receives a copy of the packet after it arrives at its destination. Some of the challenges associated with using IPS are its relatively high cost and the potential to block legitimate traffic if the system is misconfigured.
Firewalls create a barrier between the internal network and outside networks, such as the Internet. They monitor incoming and outgoing traffic and determine whether to allow that traffic through or block it using a pre-defined set of rules. Firewalls can either hardware or software.
There are several types of firewalls:
- Packet-Filtering Firewalls: These compare each packet it receives to a set of pre-determined criteria and blocks them if it perceives them as a potential threat. This is the original type of firewall.
- Circuit-Level Gateways: These systems monitor TCP handshakes, a method of creating a connection that requires the client and server to exchange acknowledgment packets before beginning data communication. They use this handshake to determine whether a session is legitimate.
- Stateful Inspection Firewalls: These firewalls assess each packet and also check whether it is part of an approved TCP handshake.
- Application-Level Gateways: These gateways perform filtering at the application level and combine aspects of packet filtering and circuit-level gateways. They are also referred to as proxy firewalls.
- Next-Generation Firewalls: Next-generation firewalls are part of a broad category of advanced firewalls. They may combine aspects of stateful inspection, packet inspection and deep packet inspection, which looks into the data of the packet rather than just the header.
4. Network Access Control Products
Network access control (NAC) solutions help to ensure that users follow security policies and keep out potential attackers. They can identify non-compliant devices and block them from accessing the network. They can also control the amount of data that individual users have access to, or place non-compliant devices in a quarantined part of the network.
NAC products enable network managers to monitor the devices that are connected to or attempting to connect to a network. It also allows for the management of guest access. The use of NAC solutions has become more important due to the increased prevalence of bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies and the internet of things (IoT).
5. Security Information and Event Management Products
Security Information and Event Management, or SIEM, software tracks activity from multiple sources across the network. This gives the information they need to identify and respond to threats. A SIEM program can detect variations from normal operations and take action accordingly. If it picks up on a potential issue, it might send an alert, log additional information and direct other security programs to stop the suspicious activity.
A SIEM system may be rules-based or use a statistical correlation engine to detect anomalies. Some use artificial intelligence to improve over time their ability to identify suspicious activity. SIEM software has two main benefits. It gives cybersecurity an overview of network activity and helps to detect and take action against suspicious activity.
6. Mobile Device Management Software
In 2016, 71 percent of employees spent more than two hours per week accessing company information on mobile devices. Some companies have BYOD policies, while other employers provide company-owned devices, but either way, the prevalence of using mobile devices at work is growing.
Having higher numbers of mobile devices on a company’s networks increases security risks, and mobile device management (MDM) solutions can help with this. MDM software allows for remote monitoring and control of mobile device access to the network. It also enables security staff to remotely control security configurations, enforce policies and push patches out to mobile devices.
7. Application Security Products
Security should be a central integration in the design and use of any software. Application security refers to the hardware, software and processes companies use to protect their applications, whether they’re hosted on-site or in the cloud. Applications security tools include products that identify and fix flaws in application design, scan applications for potential threats and defect against application-layer attacks.
Some examples of application security products include application firewalls, routers that prevent the IP address of a computer from displaying on the internet and biometric authentication systems. Many applications also have security measures built into them, and you can help protect applications through processes such as creating security profiles for all applications.
8. Authentication and Authorization Technologies
Authentication tools enable the identification of individual users, while authorization tools manage users’ permissions to complete tasks. These two technologies often work together to enhance security.
Authentication may require the user to put in a username and password, scan a card or undergo biometric identification through methods such as fingerprint scanning, voice recognition or retina scans. Authentication may also involve the server giving the client a certificate that verifies its identity. Directory-based services like Active Directory authenticate users and use authorization rules to control their access permissions. Other technologies use methods such as digital certificates and public key infrastructure solutions. The Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) also provides additional security.
9. Data Loss Prevention Technologies
Organizations that handle sensitive data need to prevent it from falling into the wrong hands. Data loss prevention (DLP) tools can help with this. These technologies are designed to prevent sensitive information from leaving the organization’s network, whether purposely or accidentally, via email, instant message, file transfers, website forms and even printing. DLP technologies use rules to spot sensitive information and abnormal transfers of data.
10. Email Security Appliances
Email is a leading security threat, and all organizations that use email should take steps to protect it. Unsecured email systems can lead to vulnerability to phishing, viruses, identity theft and hacking. Security software and technology, as well as established security practices and policies, can help protect an organization from email-related threats. Some email software comes with integrated security measures. Email security tools can be hosted on-premise or in the cloud.
Email security appliances may be able to detect and block fraudulent senders and prevent attackers from using your domain. They may also provide protection from any malware that may be included in an email, including files that become malicious after staying dormant for some time.
11. Web Security Solutions
Lots of threats are hidden across the internet, even on otherwise legitimate websites. Web security solutions can block risky sites and other web-based threats, as well as test unknown sites before letting users link to them. They may also monitor network activity, detect web-based threats and repair damage caused by them. Web security tools also allow staff to monitor and control what’s happening on an organization’s network. It can help in enforcing policies for web use.
12. Virtual Private Networks
Virtual private networks, or VPNs, are an essential security measure if you have branch offices or remote workers who need to access company applications and resources. VPNs are encrypted connections from a device to a network, or between two networks, that takes place over the internet. They ensure that data can be securely transmitted and prevent unauthorized individuals from eavesdropping on your traffic. VPNs use authentication technology to verify the identity of a user. They may also ensure that a device meets security requirements before allowing it to connect.
13. Behavioral Analytics Tools
Behavioral analytics tools establish a baseline of normal activity across the network and then monitor for activity that’s out of the ordinary. If they detect an anomaly, they can send an alert to security staff who can take action to stop the attack. These types of tools may use artificial intelligence to uncover abnormal activity. Behavioral analytics tools are useful for detecting attacks that may have slipped past preventative measures.
14. All-in-One Network Security Hardware Appliances
Some security equipment combines multiple features into one device. These types of devices are sometimes called network security hardware appliances. These tools act as an all-in-one security gate and may perform the functions of a network firewall, VPN and router. It works to prevent threats from entering your network and can alert you if an attempted attack occurs.
There are various types of these all-in-one devices. One example is the Cisco Adaptive Security Appliance 5500 series, which provides next-generation firewall security and VPN functionality. The Juniper NetScreen-5GT includes a next-generation firewall, VPN capabilities and integrated malware protection.
Security Products and Services From Worldwide Supply and Worldwide Services
At Worldwide Supply and Worldwide Services, we have an extensive inventory of products, including many security products from top brands. We offer new, used and refurbished equipment and can save you as much as 80 percent on purchasing form OEMs. We also provide same-day and next-day delivery to many cities around the world.
In addition, we provide managed IT services including third-party maintenance, network monitoring and lifecycle management. To explore our inventory of security products, browse our products page. You can also contact us for help find the right product for you.