The growing size of computer networks and internet use spike the number of network security threats. Companies of all sizes are vulnerable to cyber, physical, and internal attacks. Even small businesses face network breaches, malfunctions, and even destruction. These problems lead to significant expenses, bankruptcies, lost reputations, and many other unfortunate consequences. From identity theft to compromised data, companies all over the world suffer from poor network security practices. Thus, it is critical to understand the importance of network security and how to effectively safeguard your business. This article delves into what network security entails, its growing importance in our increasingly digital world, and practical steps that businesses can take to bolster their network security.
What is Network Security?
Network security is a set of activities, rules, and processes aimed at protecting the integrity of your network, applications, and data. Implementing proper network security measures can keep your network safe and prevent dangerous breaches.
With a huge variety of online and offline connections, the importance of network security is especially high. Modern technologies make network architecture highly complex. This doesn’t just simplify business operation and data analysis. It creates a variety of loopholes for cybercriminals to exploit. Network security practices and measures are designed to close these loopholes and ensure undisrupted network operation.
Unfortunately, only a small percentage of businesses is taking proper network security measures. More often than not, companies don’t have time, money, and resources to implement them.
Also Read: Top Network Security Certifications
Understanding the Critical Role of Network Security
Before discussing the importance of network security, it’s important to understand how it works. No matter how big or small your organization is, network security processes have several layers. Usually, network security comes in three formats:
- Physical measures – practices designed to prevent unauthorized users from gaining access to your network hardware. This includes computers, wireless routers, servers, cabling, and the like. This layer usually has physical protection, such as locks, security officers, and other options that prevent people from coming into contact with the hardware.
- Technical measures – these measures are aimed at protecting the data, which is located on travels through the network. This includes protecting the information from unauthorized access by both employees and outsiders.
- Administrative measures — these measures include security policies and processes that cover authentication and levels of access for employees, clients, and IT staff members.
All formats include extensive employee training. In most cases, employees are responsible for security breaches. Their unintentional actions, such as setting weak passwords, Shadow IT related incidents or clicking malicious links lead to disastrous consequences. Employees need to understand why network security is so important and see which steps the company takes to ensure it.
As the number and variety of network security threats grow, the most common issues tend to stay the same. Both small and mid-size businesses suffer from the following problems.
- Viruses – malicious files that enter your network and spread to all the computers, infecting files, and hindering your work operation. A common network security measure against a virus is anti-virus software.
- Trojan programs – these backdoor programs help malicious users access your network. They appear to be trustworthy apps at first but turn harmful when necessary. Trojans can delete your files, steal data, and activate other malware.
- Ransomware – one of the most common and dangerous threats is ransomware. This program encrypts your data and asks you for a ransom in exchange for a decryption key. In some cases, paying the ransom doesn’t guarantee regained access. Last year, the Colonial Pipeline hack cost the company around $2.3 million in ransom.
- Spyware – this computer virus gathers information about your organization from inside the network and sends it to a third party without your consent.
- Phishing attacks – about 91% of malicious network attacks begin with a phishing email. It poses as a message from a reputable company and tricks your employees into sharing their details, including logins and passwords. Once cyber attackers get these details, they can gain access to the network from within and steal data in the process.
- Internal Threats. One of the worst problems companies face are internal threats. When network security is compromised by employees, it can be hard to get back on track. That’s why it’s imperative to set up network security policies that regulate access to sensitive information and computer systems. It is also very important to implement a cyber-security awareness training program.
With the right approach to network security, it’s possible to minimize both internal and external cybersecurity threats to your network and prevent data breaches.
7 Reasons Why Network Security is Important
Network security ensures smooth business operations and data safety. To underscore the importance of network security, here are 7 compelling reasons businesses need to pay attention.
1. It’s Integral to Cybersecurity
The number of data breaches all over the world is increasing steadily. Both small businesses and large enterprises are vulnerable to cyber attacks. Network security is an integral part of robust cybersecurity measures. Without it, it would be impossible to keep sensitive data safe.
When IT specialists design cyber security measures, they keep network security in mind and adjust their practices accordingly.
2. It Keeps Your Data Safe
When your data becomes exposed to malicious users, you are open to a variety of adverse consequences. Besides losing information, which is necessary to keep your company running, you could expose sensitive client data.
Data breaches don’t just cause extended downtime. They hinder your reputation and lead to lawsuits. This is bound to happen if you are working in a healthcare, financial, or legal industry. A breach could mean poor compliance, sizable penalties, and even bankruptcy.
Network security measures are designed to keep data within your network safe. This includes creating a robust backup and preventing unauthorized users from gaining access.
Also Read: Data Loss Prevention Best Practices
3. You Need It for Compliance
If you are working with sensitive information, you may have compliance requirements. For example, HIPPA requires companies that deal with medical data (e.g., hospitals and medical clinics) to implement specific security practices. While PCI DSS compliance has other requirements.
When you design network security measures, you follow regulatory requirements and make sure customer and client information stays safe. This can prevent sizable penalties and lawsuits.
4. You Streamline Network Performance
Poor network security could affect your network connection and performance. If you are using legacy systems or poorly-designed authentication methods, you could be slowing the network down.
For the entire network to work more efficiently, you need to make sure all the software and hardware are functioning properly. This is also a big part of network security practices.
5. You Are Saving Money
A secure network can save your company money. It’s much less expensive to create an effective network security solution than to deal with the consequences of unauthorized access.
Cyber attacks and data theft can cost your company millions of dollars. The average cost of a cyber-attack for a U.S. business is more than $8 million dollars. Many companies don’t survive these network security breaches.
6. You Are Maintaining a Competitive Edge
Network security is an integral part of any company’s operations. When you are using the latest techniques and technologies to ensure high-quality protection, you are taking care of your reputation and staying ahead of the competition.
Even the smallest cyber attack could turn into a serious reputation-breaker for your company. Protecting yourself is the key to holding on to your market share.
7. Your Company Can Develop
Without a comprehensive approach to cybersecurity, it’s hard to grow and develop a company. Besides creating loopholes for cyber criminals to take advantage of, poor security hinders day-to-day operations.
If you can’t rely on your computer network to function properly, it’s nearly impossible to achieve your business goals. Continuous loophole patching and quick fixes hold your team back from improving the company’s bottom line.
Why is Network Security Important for Small Businesses?
The importance of network security is especially pronounced for small businesses, which are frequently targeted by cybercriminals. Contrary to a common misconception, small businesses risk being attacked by cybercriminals as much as enterprises do. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, cybercrimes increased by 600%. Today, 43% of cyberattacks target small companies.
Criminals have a variety of reasons to attack small businesses. They vary from sensitive data theft to stealing market share. Meanwhile, in case an attack occurs, small business owners have a lot to lose. Many of them can’t restore their reputation and end up selling their companies.
In many cases, poor network security is the problem faced by small businesses that simply don’t have sufficient funds to ensure proper safety measures. Meanwhile, large companies hire sizable IT departments that understand the importance of network security policies and implement them timely.
Top Steps to Improve Your Network Security
Recognizing the importance of robust network security, here are a few key steps your business can take today.
- Regularly perform vulnerability scanning
- Pen test your network at least once a year. Read our guides on penetration testing cost and top penetration testing tools.
- Check for software updates on all network infrastructure elements.
- Find out if your building or server room is properly secured.
- Install a high-quality network firewall.
- Get rid of unused and legacy technologies.
- Make sure you have excellent data backup protocols and disaster recovery plan. Consider using Backup as a Service.
- Educate your employees about possible cyber threats.
- Install proper anti-virus software on all devices.
- Filter network access and traffic.
If you have a small IT department, it may not have sufficient time or resources to build a proper network vulnerability management program. In this case, you may want to consider outsourcing the task to MSPs or MSSPs.
If you understand the importance of network security and want to find a reliable Network support company, you can take advantage of ITCompanies.net. Our platform is designed specifically to bring business owners and trustworthy IT service providers together.
FAQ about the Importance of Network Security
What is network security?
Network security is a collection of practices, rules, and processes intended to protect the integrity of a network, applications, and data from various threats and attacks.
Why is network security important for my business?
Network security is crucial for protecting your sensitive business and customer data from cyber threats. It ensures smooth operation, helps in maintaining a competitive edge, and safeguards your business's reputation. It is also often a legal requirement for compliance with regulations such as HIPAA and PCI DSS.
What are common network security threats?
Common network security threats include viruses, Trojan programs, ransomware, spyware, phishing attacks, and internal threats from employees.
What are the consequences of poor network security?
Poor network security can lead to significant data loss, reputational damage, legal repercussions, financial loss, decreased network performance, and in some cases, can even lead to business failure.
Can I outsource network security management?
Yes, businesses often outsource network security to managed IT service providers, especially if they lack the necessary resources or expertise in-house to effectively manage network security.
Are employees also a risk to network security?
Yes, often unintentional actions by employees, such as setting weak passwords or clicking malicious links, can lead to security breaches. This is why it's important to educate and train employees on network security best practices.