Network Security Basics: Know Where Your Network is Vulnerable

network security basicsThe Internet is reaching more and more people every year. In 1995, the Internet reached only 16 million users, or about 0.4% of the world population. Today, in 2014, the Internet is accessible to around 3 billion people worldwide, which is more than 40% of the total human population. The Internet will only continue to grow and will one day be accessible to everyone. Keeping this rapidly expanding network secure is one of the many challenges we must face today. While system administrators and other experts have capably handled network security in the past, that is no longer the case. Hackers are smarter now than they ever were before. Earlier antivirus products could maintain a library of viruses, now, the rate at which new viruses are emerging is higher than the rate at which this library is being updated. You, as a network user, need to be familiar with the basics of networking and network security to prevent your data from falling into the wrong hands or your computer from being hacked. If you’re a student, a career in network security will get you places. You can take this course on networking to get acquainted with networking basics, setting up networks and protecting them.

What is Network Security Exactly?

You probably think you know the answer to this question, but you should still keep yourself acquainted with the latest information about networking security- unless, of course, you could go without using the Internet for the rest of your life.

Network security, in general, refers to the practice of keeping your network secure. Network security covers a broad range of topics, like information security or information assurance, that you should consider reading about in more detail. Network security doesn’t deal with just keeping your data secure, but it also deals with keeping your network usable, reliable, as well as maintaining the integrity of your network. Learn more about network security and how to prevent hacking in this special course.

Most large organizations employ teams solely to maintain network security. However, small organizations have to rely on other means to keep their data secure, like anti virus products.

What are the Threats to the Security of Your Network?

Experts believe that it’s almost impossible to keep a network secure against a determined and skilled hacker, or a team of hackers. We keep hearing about the databases of large companies like Facebook and Blackberry getting hacked. Even the government databases aren’t secure. Does this happen because they don’t pour enough money into network security?

The key to keeping a network secure, experts believe, is to make so hard for a hacker to get into a network that it’s not worth his while. They also believe it’s necessary to keep up with the rapidly advancing technology so they can counter the increasingly sophisticated attacks mounted by hackers better. Network security experts rely on techniques like cryptography to keep a network security. To learn more about data encryption techniques and other networking basics, sign up for this course. You can also take a look at some of the other tutorials we’ve written on the topic.

So what are the typical threats to the security of your network? Here’s a short lists which covers the most important threats:

  • Viruses, Trojans and worms: Everyone has heard about computer viruses. They keep getting increasingly malicious and anti virus software makers are having a hard time keeping up.
  • Adware and Spyware: Adware and spyware are malicious programs installed on your computer that gather data on you without you knowing.
  • Zero-day attacks: Attacks that are targeted at a previously unknown flaw in an application are known as zero-day attacks. They are called zero day attacks because the app developers have had 0 days to patch the flaw.
  • Hacker attacks: Hacker attacks are, perhaps, the ones you should be the most worried about. To understand hacker attacks, you need to understand how the Internet works. The Internet relies on TCP/IP (Transport Control Protocol/Internet Protocol) to get its data from one place to the other. To understand network security, you need to understand how this data actually gets around. A device that is connected to the Internet is assigned a unique IP address. This IP allows it to be identified with other devices and to communicate with them. Think of an IP address like your mailbox- it has a unique name (number) and location. You know that any mail that is to go to you has to be addressed first. Then, the mailman will find your mailbox, based on this address and deliver the message to you. The IP address, just like your mailbox, has a unique address and location. However, the very uniqueness leaves it open to hacking. Your IP may be spoofed (duplicated) or your IP may be forcibly taken over by a hacker, which is called as IP session hacking. This is one of the most common forms of hacking. Other forms include taking over a web server or taking over your home system. Take this course to get certified hacking training for beginners in IT security.
  • Identity theft: Identity theft has become increasingly common. Your identity gets stolen and the thief will use it to profit in several ways. Your credit card information, for example, could be used to make purchases without you knowing.
  • Denial of service attacks: Some hackers use denial of service attacks to achieve their goals. For example, a bank server may be taken offline, which will prevent customers from accessing bank services. Denial of service attacks occur at the rate of an estimated 28 attacks per hour.

There are many other threats that we haven’t talked about here, like unauthorized access and data destruction. They’re too big to cover in a single article, but you’ll come across them if you read up more about network security.

Indetifying Security Threats

So how do you fight against these security threats? There are firewalls, anti virus software products, VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) and IPS (Intrusion Prevention Systems), among other components, which you can use in tandem to keep your network secure. Often ethical hacking or white hat hacking is used to find security loop holes. If you’re new to it, this course can help you learn the basics of white hat hacking. Once you’re ready to try the advance level, take this course on advanced ethical hacking to learn more about network security and how to actively identify security threats.