Network Security 101

Every network has a perimeter—a gateway to the Internet. These perimeters can improve the way your business gets things done and help you manage your Internet-based activities.

But the addition of technologies can make managing your network harder, because every gateway on your extended network must still be protected. Every technology is vulnerable to manipulation and compromise. That’s true of any device that connects two networks (e.g., firewall, router and switch) or could give access to the network.

Security must be a primary concern when designing an optimum network. Even a single unsecured perimeter device could compromise your corporate network. A complete network security solution reduces the likelihood of an unauthorized intrusion by offering formal authentication, authorization, confidentiality, availability and integrity measures. These measures typically include encryption, certification, directory, network and other security components.

Unified threat management (UTM) serves as the traffic cop, enforcing perimeter security by inspecting packets and sessions to determine if they should be allowed on the protected network or dropped entirely. In effect, firewalls—especially second-generation ones—have become a single point of network access, analyzing and controlling traffic using firewall scripts that define application, address and user parameters. In turn these scripts help protect the connectivity paths to external networks and data centers.

Identifying devices that provide access to the network can help improve your network’s overall security. You should consider each perimeter device as a part of the perimeter of the network. This includes network hardware devices, servers and all client endpoints, along with any devices that can be dynamically added in the future—for example, VPN clients. Once you have identified the area of your physical and virtual perimeter, it’s easier to establish uniform authentication policies for every device and user.

Find out more about network security and UTM. Read the whitepaper The Expanding Network Perimeter: How to Protect it With Unified Threat Management

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