Network Cybersecurity 101: Protecting Your Company’s Online Perimeter
Cyberattackers Might Be Lurking Around the Corner. Learn How to Achieve Complete Network Cybersecurity in the Office.
Cyber security, network security, online perimeter security – you’ve probably heard one or all of these terms thrown around in various conversations on digital defense practices. But what do they mean and, more importantly, what role do they play for your business? Is complete network cybersecurity a feasible prospect?
In the following article, I will discuss these terms and the inherent digital threat they relate to. I’m talking about perimeter breaches, of course. If you want to learn how to protect your company’s online perimeter proactively, then keep on reading.
Cyber Security vs Network Security
Before diving into the conversation on cyber security vs network security, it is essential to define their parent term: information security.
The Heimdal Security Glossary describes information security as:
“The tactics, tools, measures and actions taken to protect data and information systems against unauthorized access, use, disclosure, disruption, modification, or destruction. Its purpose is to ensure the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of the data and information systems.”
Simply put, information security refers to the protection strategy for any sort of sensitive data, be it in print or electronic form.
In its turn, cyber security is a subset of information security that deals with the defense of networks, devices, and programs specifically. As its name suggests, it is concerned with everything pertaining to the cyber space.
Main practices include monitoring both incoming and outgoing traffic and preventing unauthorized system exploitation. Identifying risks at the level of the Domain Name System (DNS) is the defining procedure in the realm of cyber security.
Narrowing down, network security is a subset of cyber security concerned with the safeguarding of networks and programs in particular. Not only does it cover an organization’s IT infrastructure, but any network-accessible resources as well.
Common threats such as viruses, Trojans, malware, ransomware, or spyware fall under the jurisdiction of network security. Safety tools in this category include firewalls, data backup, encryption, and credential strengthening.
What Is Network Cybersecurity?
To recap, network security is a subset of cyber security, which in itself is a subset of information security. Then, what is network cybersecurity? Yes, it’s a compound noun, but what does it stand for? Let’s find out.
Network cybersecurity blends the focus points and procedures of both cyber security and network security. It goes one step above the traditional approach by constantly monitoring and filtering DNS traffic, as well as protecting login credentials and data from malware, Trojans, and the rest of the gang.
Another name you could call it by is that of online perimeter security, which is a bit more self-explanatory. Therefore, understanding network cybersecurity means knowing what a perimeter consists of. In the traditional sense of the word, it would refer to your office space and its adjacent systems.
Still, in today’s highly dynamic professional environment, coming up with a universal definition of the online perimeter is almost impossible. To put it bluntly, your company’s network perimeter is wherever your data is, and this notion is very flexible in the age of mobile devices.
While this is undoubtedly a huge benefit the global workforce has in the 21st century, it also opens new gateways through which malicious third parties can strike. In the next section, I will dive into the topic of a treacherous type of threat that you should protect your business against: perimeter breaches.
Perimeter Breaches: The Unseen Cyber-Threat
Internal users access company resources from external devices. Your organization’s data is backed up in the cloud. Customer-facing services open a myriad of new vulnerabilities your standard defenses cannot control. These aspects and many others facilitate cyberattacks more than you’d think.
In the age of the flexible workplace, staying protected is essential. Regardless of where your employees are connecting to their workstations from, putting in place a proper Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR) strategy ensures that attackers can’t weasel their way into your network undetected.
For this, I will always recommend our very own Thor Premium Enterprise, which unifies the functionalities of both Thor Foresight Enterprise (advanced DNS-level threat detection) and Thor Vigilance Enterprise (a next-generation antivirus). Put them together, and you get a complete EDR solution that will secure all the digital access points into your network.
Why Is Online Perimeter Security Important?
What about access points that aren’t solely digital? Your online perimeter is a dynamic concept, but you mustn’t forget that it also has a prevalent physical component.
While it is true that 92% of companies have an IT environment at least somewhat in the cloud today, this also means that 8% still keep it all on-premises. What is more, the 92% that rely on cloud computing do not do it fully just yet. Like any other knot in your network, the perimeter can be vulnerable to cyberattacks as well, especially as it is still a predominant part of your staff’s daily schedule.
You’ve seen it in countless Hollywood films by now. A hacker is shrouded in shadows in a van strategically parked at the corner of a tall office building. He’s using a futuristic-looking thingamajig to scan the Wi-Fi connection. Matrix-style green numbers roll on his screen. Suddenly, a padlock animation unlocks on his screen. He’s in.
All joking aside, while this might not unfold in such a cinematic way in real life, it can actually happen. For a while now, hackers have been able to manipulate the Domain Name System by either exploiting its vulnerabilities or altering it to deliver a wide array of vicious threats directly to your servers.
For example, ransomware strains such as MedusaLocker and Ako affect entire networks at a time. In this way, attackers can target entire systems rather than individual devices, which super-speeds the spread of the infection.
The FBI put out a security alert in October of 2019 that highlighted perimeter attacks based on exploiting Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) vulnerabilities as one of the primary methods of infection in ransomware operations. This doesn’t necessarily mean that there’s a team of hackers in your underground parking lot, but what it does mean is that malicious third parties are using brute force to take over your entire network.
The Domain Name System (DNS) isn’t better off either. Even though the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) released focused security specifications for the DNS known as Domain Name System Security Extensions (DNSSEC) back in 1997, the DNS is not secure by default. This happened because the system wasn’t designed with security in mind in the first place. As you might imagine, cyber-threats weren’t a thing in the late 80s.
Therefore, online perimeter security should be as much as a concern as endpoint detection and response. This is why having a proper network cybersecurity strategy is essential for the health and safety of your enterprise.
How to Achieve Enterprise-Level Online Perimeter Security
To sum up what we’ve discussed thus far:
- Your company’s network perimeter is dynamic.
- Traffic monitoring needs to happen continuously.
- RDPs are still hugely vulnerable to attacks.
- The DNS hasn’t been secure for a while now.
- Standard network security solutions don’t cut it anymore.
For these four main reasons, your approach to digital defense should be focused on state-of-the-art network cybersecurity rather than traditional network security. To better envision how you can apply this in your organization, you should first and foremost understand what it is. A proper online perimeter security policy generally includes the following components:
- Border routers, which direct traffic inside and outside of the network. They act as data checkpoints.
- Firewalls, which filter traffic more thoroughly than the border routers.
- Intrusion Detection System (IDS), your network’s alarm system.
- Intrusion Prevention System (IPS), your system’s automated defense system.
- De-Militarized Zones (DMZ), small networks of public services connected directly to the firewall.
These five elements are the cornerstones of network cybersecurity. Out of all of them, the IDS and IPS play by far the most important part in the protection of your data assets. Here is where Heimdal’s Forseti comes in.
Forseti is an innovative network cybersecurity solution that eradicates threats efficiently with proprietary Network Prevention, Detection, and Response technology. Created to complement your firewalls, it blocks malicious requests to perimeter servers before they find a way in.
As the perimeter-level version of our DarkLayer Guard™ & VectorN Detection modules, Forseti filters incoming and outgoing DNS traffic, monitoring it for any unusual patterns. As a multi-tasking HIPS/HIDS and IOA/IOC add-on, it detects even hidden threats that other levels in your online perimeter security system aren’t able to recognize.
Increasingly, hackers target organizations at network or DNS traffic level.
YOU TO PREVENT, DETECT AND RESPOND TO NETWORK-BASED THREATS
Increasingly, hackers target organizations at network or DNS traffic level.
What makes Forseti a complete network cybersecurity solution is the fact that, besides traffic monitoring, it also stops the delivery of network APTs or malware to your systems. It is also efficient in protecting your enterprise against data leaks, a dire consequence of perimeter breaches.
To cover your workstations at every single point of access, I also strongly recommend using Forseti in tandem with our core offering of Thor Foresight Enterprise. It basically does the same thing for your endpoint DNS security as Forseti does for the perimeter’s DNS, which means that your data will be protected regardless of where it’s accessed from. And that’s definitely a strategy you should aim for.
Your enterprise’s online perimeter is a flexible concept in the 21st century. It involves both a physical and a digital component, and you should not fail to appreciate the importance of protecting either one of them. For this reason, I will always recommend adopting a network cybersecurity strategy that tackles both the endpoints and the actual office where the workstations are.
Do you have an online perimeter security protocol in place? Have you found any other successful approaches other than what I’ve mentioned above? Feel free to leave your comments, recommendations, or questions in the comments section below!