We live in an increasingly networked world. Cybersecurity is constantly evolving in parallel with the threats posed by hackers, governments, and industrial snoopers. Cybersecurity solutions and programs come in many forms, and most organizations operate several kinds of security solutions in order to keep their networks safe. Here is a quick guide to some of the most popular ways in which networks can be secured.
Virtual Private Networks are becoming more and more popular as individuals and organizations look to hide their sensitive information from increasingly complex hacking operations and surveillance methods. Virtual Private Networks obscure the IP address of a user connected to the internet by encrypting their information and rerouting it through a remote server. Encryption, when conducted correctly, can mean that third parties cannot read information intercepted in transit. Businesses typically operate Virtual Private Networks in order to protect sensitive information from hackers. Individuals typically operate them in order to protect their browsing information from governmental organizations. Although VPNs were originally developed as a security measure, they are now more commonly used by individuals for torrenting files or accessing geographically restricted content.
Zero Trust Network Access – or ZTNA – is a way of restricting user activity in order to ensure security within a network. Zero Trust Network Access programs allow users to set strict permissions that prevent unauthorized access to sensitive information or functions. This drastically reduces the risk of account compromise, file sharing, and code manipulation. Businesses that have large employee bases and lots of sensitive information on their networks often regularly update their Zero Trust Network Access parameters in order to keep their networks as secure as possible.
Firewalls act as protective membranes: monitoring the files that are allowed in and out of a computer network. They are programmed to abide by predetermined security protocols in order to protect systems from malicious or damaging software. Firewalls have been around since the late 1980s and were originally rather simple ‘packet sniffers’ that inspected and accepted or rejected individual bytes. Since then, firewalls have had to evolve drastically to deal with the increasing complexity of cybercriminal activity. Defining and enforcing a perimeter is crucial in cybersecurity, and it is the specific task of the firewall. Almost all commercial operating systems include some kind of firewall as standard.
Probably the most well-known cybersecurity solution involves the installation of antivirus software. Antivirus software was developed in order to counter the threat of malware. It can trace its roots back to the very first computer virus: the creeper. The creeper was developed as an experiment in the 1970s and quickly spread around existing computer networks. Shortly after the development of creeper, Ray Tomlinson coded reaper – the first antivirus software. It scanned for and deleted creeper files from computer networks.
Today, antivirus software is a standard on all personal computers and commercial computer networks. Antivirus software needs to be constantly updated to include up-to-date lists of known malicious software types. Modern antivirus software can scan for and destroy many kinds of trojan horse, malware, and ransomware. Hackers have, however, always got the advantage. There will always be new ways of exploiting the time it takes to update antivirus databases and protocols. The ‘core war’ between antivirus developers and hackers will likely last forever.
Anomaly Detection Engines are essential to network security tools. They constantly scan for subtle changes in settings and software in order to detect when something is amiss. Detecting anomalies has always been a key part of the cybersecurity trade. One of the cybersecurity trade founders, Cliff Stoll, stumbled across the international espionage scandal that made his name after identifying a tiny accounting software anomaly. Spotting these anomalies has become harder and harder as networks and software have become more complex. Anomaly Detection Engines automate the extremely complicated process of combing through code.
Data Loss Prevention systems – or DLP for short – help to prevent security breaches caused by human negligence or mistake. Often the most vulnerable part of a secure network is the human element. People can accidentally attach sensitive files to emails, leave their computers on or engage in any number of activities that leave a secure network open to exploitation. Data Loss Prevention systems stop sensitive files from being transferred outside of a network in any way. These systems essentially act as a protective net – catching rouge files before they can be exposed. Human error-based security breaches can, however, still happen. Cybersecurity training is essential in any organization in order to prevent negligence.