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How to improve network security (7 fundamental ways)


As per Cloudwards, a new organization gets hit by ransomware every 14 seconds. This is despite the fact that global cybersecurity spending is up and is around $150 billion per year.

That’s why fortifying your organization’s network security is the need of the hour.

Learn how companies are proactively improving their network security with these best practices.

7 Ways to improve network security:


1. Change the way you measure cyber security risk

Cyber threats have evolved with modern cybersecurity measures. Thus, legacy techniques to protect the network are not going to work.

These techniques include measures like maturity assessment, compliance attestation, and vulnerability aging reports, among other things. While they still have a place in cybersecurity, they’re insufficient.

To level up, you need greater visibility over the various risk levels. This visibility will allow you to deploy resources as per need.

At the bare minimum, companies need a dashboard that lists real-time data on the number of applications, the region they’re used in, the size and nature of the database, the velocity of M&A, etc. IT teams can make better decisions since the impact of new technologies like big data and AI falls unevenly on organizations.

Along with visibility, companies need transparency and precision on how the tools behave against cyberattacks.

  • You can use the ATT&CK Framework developed by MITRE Corporation, the most trustworthy threat behavior knowledge base available today.
  • Use it as a benchmark to test the tools’ efficiency. Measuring the tools this way helps you prepare well in advance.
  • Another measurement technique you must adopt is measuring performance against low-probability, high-consequence attacks.
  • Pick the events that you conclude have the least chance of occurring. Then, test the tools on such attacks.
  • Maersk learned this the hard way. In the notPetya incident, the company came pretty close to losing all of its IT data. Imagine the consequence it’d have on the company that handles the world’s supply chain.
  • Measuring is the only way to learn whether your current cybersecurity arrangements meet the need.

2. Use VLAN and subnets

An old saying goes, ‘Don’t keep all your eggs in the same basket.’ Doing so would mean losing the basket, losing all your eggs. That is true for IT networks as well. Instead of treating your network as a whole, divide it into multiple subnetworks.

There are various ways you can do that:

  • VLAN or Virtual LAN is one of them.
  • VLAN helps you segment a physical network without investing in additional servers or devices. The different segments can then be handled differently as per the need.
  • For example, the accounting department will have a separate segment, and so will the marketing and sales departments. This segmentation helps enhance security and limit damage.
  • VLAN also helps you prioritize data, networks, and devices.
  • There will be some data that is more critical than others. The more critical data warrant better security and protection, which you can provide through a VLAN partition.
  • Subnets are another way to segment networks.
  • As opposed to VLAN, which separates the network at the switch level, subnets partition the network at IP level or level 3.
  • The various subnetworks can then communicate with each other and third-party networks over IP.

With the adoption of technologies like the Internet of Things (IoT), network segmentation is only going to get more critical. Each device used for data generation, like smartwatches, sensors, and cameras, can act as an entry point to your network.

If the entry points are connected to sensitive data like consumers’ credit cards, it’s a recipe for disaster. You can implement VLAN or subnets in such a scenario.

3. Use NGFWs for cloud

The firewall policy is at the core of cybersecurity. They’re essentially the guardians who check for intruders before letting the traffic inside the network.

But with the growth of cloud technologies and the critical data they hold, traditional firewalls are no longer reliable. They can easily be passed by modern malware.

You must install NGFWs or Next Generation Firewalls in your cloud to ensure total protection. These firewalls are designed specifically to counter modern cyberattacks.

An NGFW builds on the capabilities of a traditional firewall. Thus, it inspects all the incoming traffic. But in addition, it has advanced capabilities like IPS (intrusion prevention system), NAT (network address translation), SPI (stateful protocol inspection), threat intelligence feeds, container protection, and SSL decryption, among others.

NGFWs are also both user and application-aware. This allows them to provide context on the incoming traffic.

NGFWs are important not only for cloud networks but also for hybrid networks. Malware from the cloud could easily transition into physical servers, posing a threat to the entire network.

When selecting a next-gen firewall for your cloud, consider the following security features:

  • The speed at which the firewall detects threats. Ideally, it should identify the attacks in seconds and detect data breaches within minutes.
  • The number of deployment options available. The NGFW should be deployable on any premise, be it a physical, cloud, or virtual environment. Also, it should support different throughput speeds.
  • The home network visibility it offers. It should report on the applications and websites, location, and users. In addition, it should show threats across the separate network in real-time.
  • The detection capabilities. It goes without saying, but the next-gen firewall management should detect novel malware quickly and act as an anti-virus.
  • Other functionalities that are core security requirements. Every business is different with its unique set of needs. The NGFW should fulfill all the needs.

Speak to one of our experts

4. Review and keep IAM updated

To a great extent, who can access what determines the security level of a network. As a best practice, you should grant access to users as per their roles and requirement — nothing less, nothing more. In addition, it’s necessary to keep IAM updated as the role of users evolves.

IAM is a cloud service that controls unauthorized access for users. The policies defined in this service either grant or reject resource access. You need to make sure the policies are robust. This requires you to review your IT infrastructure, the posture, and the users at the organization. Then create IAM policies and grant access as per the requirement.

As already mentioned, users should have remote access to the resources they need. Take that as a rule. Along with that, uphold these important IAM principles to improve access control and overall network security strategy:

  • Zero in on the identity

It’s important to identify and verify the identity of every user trying to access the network. You can do that by centralizing security control on both user and service IDs.

  • Adopt zero-trust

Trust no one. That should be the motto when handling a company’s network security. It’s a good practice to assume every user is untrustworthy unless proven otherwise. Therefore, have a bare minimum verification process for everyone.

  • Use MFA

MFA or multi-factor authentication is another way to safeguard network security. This could mean they have to provide their mobile number or OTA pin in addition to the password. MFA can help you verify the user and add an additional security layer.

  • Beef up password

Passwords are a double-edged sword. They protect the network but also pose a threat when cracked. To prevent this, choose strong passwords meeting a certain strength level. Also, force users to update their unique passwords regularly. If possible, you can also go passwordless. This involves installing email-based or biometric login systems.

  • Limit privileged accounts

Privileged accounts are those accounts that have special capabilities to access the network. It’s important to review such accounts and limit their number.

5. Always stay in compliance

Compliance is not only for pleasing the regulators. It’s also for improving your network security. Thus, do not take compliance for granted; always make your network compliant with the latest standards.

  • Compliance requirements are conceptualized after consulting with industry experts and practitioners.
  • They have a much better authoritative position to discuss what needs to be done at an industry level.
  • For example, in the card sector, it’s compulsory to have continuous penetration testing done. So, when fulfilling a requirement, you adopt the best practices and security measures.
  • The requirements don’t remain static. They evolve and change as loopholes emerge.
  • The new set of compliance frameworks helps ensure you’re up-to-date with the latest standards.
  • Compliance is also one of the hardest challenges to tackle.
  • That’s because there are various types of compliances. There are government-, industry-, and product-level compliance requirements that companies must keep up with.
  • Moreover, with hybrid networks and multi-cloud workflows, the task only gets steeper.

Cloud security management tools can help in this regard to some extent. Since they grant a high level of visibility, spotting non-compliance becomes easier.

Despite the challenges, investing more is always wise to stay compliant. After all, your business reputation depends on it.

6. Physically protect your network

You can have the best software or service provider to protect your wireless networks and access points. But they will still be vulnerable if physical protection isn’t in place.

In the cybersecurity space, the legend has it that the most secure network is the one that’s behind a closed door. Any network that has humans nearby is susceptible to cyberattacks.

Therefore, make sure you have appropriate security personnel at your premises. They should have the capability and authority to physically grant or deny access to those seeking access to the network on all operating systems.

  • Make use of biometric IDs to identify the employees.
  • Also, prohibit the use of laptops, USB drives, and other electronic gadgets that are not authorized.
  • When creating a network, data security teams usually authorize each device that can access it. This is known as Layer 1.
  • To improve network security policy, especially on Wi-Fi (WPA), ensure all the network devices and workstations and SSIDs connected to the network as trustworthy. Adopt the zero-trust security policies for every device: considered untrustworthy until proven otherwise.

7. Train and educate your employees

Lastly, to improve network security management, small businesses must educate their employees and invest in network monitoring. Since every employee is connected to the Wi-Fi network somehow, everyone poses a security threat.

  • Hackers often target those with privileged access.
  • Such accounts, once exploited by cybercriminals, can be used to access different segments of the network with ease.
  • Thus, such personnel should receive education on priority. Train your employees on attacks like phishing, spoofing, code injection, DNS tunneling, etc.
  • With knowledge, employees can tackle such attempts head-on. This, in turn, makes the network much more secure.
  • After the privileged account holders are trained, make others in your organization undergo the same training. The more educated they are, the better it is for the network.

It’s worth reviewing their knowledge of cybersecurity from time to time. You can conduct a simple survey in Q&A format to test the competency of your team. Based on the results, you can hold training sessions and get everyone on the same page.

The bottom line on network security

Data breaches often come at a hefty cost. And the most expensive item on the list is the trust of users. Once a data leak happens, retaining customers’ trust is very hard. Regulators aren’t easy on the executives either. Thus, the best option is to safeguard and improve your network security.


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