Best Practices for Network Security in 2019
Keeping up with IT is a tireless job. It’s incredibly rewarding to solve problems and build strong systems, but it’s nearly impossible for any one person to keep up with everything. As everything becomes increasingly connected, network security continues to grow as a priority. In 2019, there are more components and vulnerabilities in an average network than ever before. If you want to prevent problems and stay secure, you have to be efficient in your approach. These five best practices can help you do exactly that.
This is neither a new nor groundbreaking approach to network security, but it is arguably more important today than ever before. As malicious attacks become more sophisticated and ransomware continues to grow as a problem, segmented networks offer the best, most layered approach to minimizing risk. You can achieve segmentation with a combination of physical and virtual barriers. For the very most important data, air gaps offer extremely potent security. Overall, network segmentation allows for a wide variety of design choices, and every layer you add makes it more difficult for any single attack to compromise your entire system.
Here’s a statistic too few people know: 75 percent of all data breaches occur because of internal threats. Now, not all of those threats are deliberate, but the bulk of data vulnerability comes from approved users doing things incorrectly. Improving network visibility is the best way to identify worst practices and resolve vulnerabilities before they lead to catastrophe.
This isn’t limited to employees or standard users. Many companies and networks incorporate third-party support or access at different level. Those third-party users need to be monitored just as closely.
Finally, internal monitoring can’t protect a network unless it is paired with problem solving. In the vast majority of cases, users who create vulnerabilities simply need additional education. Internal monitoring should almost always be paired with continued training programs that ensure users understand how to implement changes that overcome discovered vulnerabilities.
The name should give you the idea from the get go. A honeypot is a segregated system that is designed to look enticing for a malicious attack. In reality, it’s a trap. Honeypots can list financial data, large user data sheets or lists of personal information. Obviously, the data within the honeypot will be fake.
Because this system isn’t accessed by real users, you gain two benefits. First, you can assume that every access into the honeypot is malicious. Secondly, you can include intrusive monitoring because it won’t be interrupting important work practices. Put it together, and you can bait intruders to your honeypot and collect non-valuable data on their practices. That data can sometimes be used to catch malicious parties, but most of the time, you’ll simply find additional ways to protect your real assets.
Everyone uses blacklists. Pretty much every modern browser regularly updates their blacklists, and they’ve been standard in security software from day one. Whitelists invert the concept and limit traffic to pre-approved domains. This is substantially more secure. Admittedly, it’s not viable for all functions, but when it can be applied, it preemptively eliminates the majority of threats on the internet. It also adds a layer of security if your network is compromised. An attacker may have access to one of your machines, but they are limited in how they can send data from it.
You do your best to stay ahead of security trends, but every IT team has its limits. There are large organizations that also want to keep networks and the internet in general safe, and they expend massive resources to find common vulnerabilities and provide solutions to security problems. Some of these organizations are government oversight groups, and some of them are coalitions of volunteers. Both contribute to regulations and standardizations that proliferate across the globe, and it would be silly to ignore their discoveries. Remaining compliant with regulations like HIPAA and ISO forces you to stay ahead of a number of security trends. Incorporating best practices from groups like the National Cyber Security Alliance only adds to your resources.
The gargantuan topic of modern network security can’t really be condensed into five best practices. These are all important, but really, security can only be achieved through long study and practice. You need to keep an eye out for new hardware and software, and you can never stop learning about the changing landscape of networking.
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