Network Security Makes Sense
Managed security services offer
robust network defenses without the headaches of in-house installation
By: John Shepler
A network without security is like a building without
locks on the doors and windows. Sooner or later, somebody is
going to catch on and help themselves to the goodies inside.
In the case of networks, that's usually sooner. In the case of
business networks, burglary and vandalism can quickly become
disasters. Network security is clearly mandatory. But, do you
implement it yourself or do you buy the service?
Individuals with home office networks and
major corporations with large IT staffs will likely opt to do
it themselves. The individual for affordability and the corporate
IT department for control. That leaves the majority of businesses
scratching their heads about how much security is enough and
how to keep up with the threats from within and without.
Threats Are Both Inside and Outside
Within? Oh, yes. Employees can be the biggest problem of all.
They bring in data and their personal software on flash drives,
like to poke around in private files for amusement and can become
quietly vindictive when they feel slighted.
The threats from without are the motley
collection of hackers,crackers, spammers, phishers and virus
writers. But also competitors bent on gaining an edge at your
expense. If they don't belong inside, they need to be thoroughly
frustrated at the gate.
A robust network security solution has
many elements and layers of protection. WAN connections need
to be exclusively private or made virtually private through encryption.
Role of the Firewall
The network equivalent to locks on the doors and windows is the
firewall. The firewall set the rules about what types of traffic
are allowed and to which machines. It examines data packets and
traffic patterns to find and block attacks such as Denial of
Service. The firewall also keeps outsiders from trying to sneak
in through unguarded ports or from even knowing the internal
architecture and devices on the LAN.
Specialized hardware or software monitors
email, data transfers and Web traffic for spam, viruses, phishing
expeditions, spyware installation and Trojan Horses designed
to damage the system.
If network security was as straightforward
as buying a piece of equipment or software package and installing
it once every few years, everyone would handle their own security.
But such is not the case. The problem is that the curiosity seekers
and evil doers are often highly intelligent and highly motivated
for monetary gain or thrill of the sport. It's a constant game
of cat and mouse and you really can't afford not to stay on top
of the threats. The question is do you really want to be doing
What Managed Security Can Do
The other option is called managed security. In this case, companies
that specialize in network security install VPNs and managed
firewalls that they remotely monitor from a network operations
center. A dedicated security team that specializes in knowing
what threats are out there, when they are coming for your network
and what to do to mitigate the threat provides the vigilance
for a multitude of clients. They may also install limitations
on your employee Internet access to prevent intrusions fromoutside
or simply to clamp down on cyberloafing that lowers productivity.
In many cases the same companies that provide
WAN services, such as dedicated Internet access and private lines,
also offer managed security services. A bundled package of services
gives you one-stop shopping and a possible cost savings over
trying to piece everything together separately.
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