Data is as important to a company as its employees and the physical assets that generate income. Therefore, the compilation, transmission, storage, analysis, and access should be secured (Whitman, Mattord, & Green, 2011). Network security is a concept that successful companies embrace and implement because it protects and secures their data against attacks, theft, and intrusions (Whitman & Mattord, 2011). In the past few years, many cases of data breaches have been reported by companies such as Target, Verizon, JCPenny, Neiman Marcus, and Wyndham. Cybercriminals attack company networks and systems to steal sensitive information that they use for malicious purposes. Companies need to secure their data by using virtual private networks (VPNs) and firewalls, implementing strict password policies, using antivirus programs, and conducting data encryption (Whitman & Mattord, 2011). Companies need to secure their data because cyber attacks lead to loss of revenue and customers, damage to reputation, and breach of sensitive information.
Network security fundamentals: threats and issues
Securing business networks requires a thorough understanding of the various vulnerabilities and protective measures that can enhance the security of company data. Protective measures are aimed at reducing security breaches and increasing the probability of detecting network intrusions before they compromise the security of data (Berry, n.d). The most common threats to company networks include data theft, Denial of Service (DOS) attacks, Distributed Denial of Service Attacks (DDoS), man-in-the-middle attacks, zero-day and zero-hour attacks, and malicious programs (Berry, n.d). Common malicious programs include viruses, malware, Trojan horses, viruses, botnets, worms, and adware. These threats usually target unsecured wireless networks, unpatched software and hardware, weak passwords, and potentially unwanted applications (PUAs) (Whitman et al., 2011). The five most important fundamentals of network security include keeping patches and updates current, using strong passwords, securing VPNs, managing user access privileges to the company’s network, and cleaning up inactive or malicious accounts (Berry, n.d).
Detailed network security recommendations
Fundamentals of firewalls and VPNs
Firewalls are the most important and effective programs for first-line defense when securing networks. They accomplish this goal by comparing organizational policies regarding user network access and the information linked to attempts to access the network (Whitman et al., 2011). For a user to be granted access past the firewall, connection information must adhere to the organization’s network access policy. For enhanced protection, it is important to deploy firewalls throughout the organization’s network to prevent internal attacks (Deploying Firewalls Throughout Your Organization, n.d) Another benefit of deploying firewalls through the organization’s network segments is to facilitate compliance with information security auditing and tracking mandates (Deploying Firewalls Throughout Your Organization, n.d). Firewalls protect a network’s points of access and prevent external attacks. VPNs are networks that use public networks to connect users using virtual connections. Their advantages include data encryption, ease of maintenance, and broadband network support (Raggad, 2010). VPNs are effective ways of protecting company networks and securing data. The application of different protocols makes VPNs secure. Examples of protocols include point-to-point Tunneling protocol (PPTP), Layer Two Tunneling Protocol (L2TP), IPSec, Secure Socket Layer (SSL) protocol, and the Transport Layer Security (TSL) protocol (Whitman & Mattord, 2011).
Recommendations for firewall and VPN solutions
The company needs to take caution in developing firewalls and VPNs for its network. The company should adopt a distributed-firewall strategy in deploying firewalls in its network. This strategy will involve distributing firewalls throughout the network to prevent both internal and external attacks (Deploying Firewalls Throughout Your Organization, n.d). In addition to firewalls at the network perimeter, firewalls will be deployed to various key internal locations throughout the network. Internal threats have become key sources of cyber attacks against organizational networks. On the other hand, the distribution of firewalls will help to address the challenge of new network perimeters within the company’s network (Stewart, 2013). For example, network perimeters exist between departments, and between meeting points of wireless LAN and the organization’s main network. The company can either contract a VPN provider or create its VPN. To ensure proper security, the company should create its VPN and choose an appropriate protocol to apply. I recommend OpenVPN because it is fast, reliable, and very secure. It is very secure because it has complex encryption standards and uses computer certificates to encrypt information (Raggad, 2010). It is the best performing protocol and provides great speeds even over long distances. Its stability is reliable and stable even when used with weak networks and Wi-Fi hotspots. Its compatibility is commendable because it works with most operating systems for computers and mobile devices (Raggad, 2010).
Recommendations for implementation of proposed solutions
The company needs to provide enough financial and personnel resources for the implementation of the aforementioned recommendations. To develop a secure VPN, highly qualified specialists are required. On the other hand, the company will need to conduct a training workshop for all employees. The training will aim to instill employees with skills and knowledge on how to enhance the security of the company’s network. They will be taught about security best practices, how to use the network properly, threats to network security, consequences of security breaches, and the importance of managing computers and mobile devices. This will require adequate time and financial resources.
Practices to ensure security if hired long term
If hired long-term, I will use various practices to ensure security within the enterprise. The company network will only be accessible to authorized users, all data will be encrypted, users will be required to choose complex passwords that will be changed weekly, and network diagnosis will be conducted daily. Device management will be conducted every day and attacks will be simulated to conduct risk assessments (Stewart, 2013). Data that has changed within 24 hours will be backed up, network administrators will be thoroughly vetted before being hired, and regular auditing of the company’s security practices will be conducted. Other security practices include encryption of VPN, mandatory antivirus programs in the computers of network users, timely installation of patches and security updates, regular updating of software, restrictions regarding the use of removable media devices, daily network scan, and training employees about the importance of network security and how to enhance it (Stewart, 2013).
The security of organizational networks is critical because a company’s data is invaluable. Therefore, securing it should be a priority. Deploying firewalls and creating VPNs are some of the most effective security measures for securing networks. The major threats to company networks include data theft, denial of service (DOS) attacks, Distributed Denial of Service Attacks (DDoS), man-in-the-middle attacks, zero-day and zero-hour attacks, and malicious programs. Programs such as viruses, worms, Trojan horses, botnets, and malware are also great threats. The company should train its employees regarding security’s best practices, deploy firewalls throughout its network, and create a VPN with a strong protocol. Finally, obtaining patches and updates for the various software programs sued in the company’s network is important. The main aim of enhancing security is to prevent both internal and external attacks.
Berry, M. (n.d). Network Security: Top 5 Fundamentals. Web.
Deploying Firewalls Throughout Your Organization: Avoiding Break-Ins Requires Firewall Filtering at Multiple External and Internal Network Perimeters. (n.d). Web.
Raggad, B. G. (2010). Information Security Management: Concepts and Practice. New York, NY: CRC Press.
Stewart, J. M. (2013). Network Security, Firewalls and VPNs. New York, NY: Jones & Bartlett Publishers.
Whitman, M., & Mattord, H. (2011). Principles of Information Security. New York, NY: Cengage Learning.
Whitman, M., Mattord, H., & Green, A. (2011). Guide to Firewalls and VPNs. New York, NY: Cengage Learning.