Keeping Data Safe: What Is Network Security?


Technologically savvy employees in today’s workplace rarely stop to question what is network security, but business managers, information technology specialists and corporate compliance officers should have an in-depth understanding of this area. Network security is made up of all the actions, people and policies that protect data and processes on a company’s network.Limiting access helps protect company trade secrets, ensures confidentiality for private client data and removes accidental interference in processes.User AuthenticationOne of the first shields in securing a network of any type is providing a process for authenticating users. The most common authentication is the user name and password combination. Known as one-factor authenticating, this process works because each user is provided with a unique log-on name.Most corporations have a data security team that approves requests for new user names and access changes to ensure only appropriate individuals are provided log-ons. Once approved, the user accesses the network, system or software program by entering his or her log-on and password.When additional security is desired, corporations may use a two-factor authentication approach. Not only does the user have an assigned log-in and password, but they must also enter another password obtained from a secure-token, cell-phone text or card.The codes on these devices change periodically, so they cannot be written down for later use by someone beside the user. This type of security is often utilized when employees travel and access networks via remote log-in or VPN technology.For maximum security, a company may employ both methods mentioned above and require the user to scan their finger or retina for system access. Outside of government buildings or high-tech laboratories, this level of security is not common. For most companies, biological security devices are expensive and unnecessary.Firewalls and Spy-ware ProgramsIn addition to user authentication, companies must ensure networks are shielded from outside attack. Almost perpetual internet connectivity means corporations are susceptible to interference by hackers and malware. In order to protect company and client data, corporations implement firewall programming to disallow activity not within parameters of documented processes.They also deploy programs to scan for viruses, locate malware and remove problems from computers and networks on a daily basis. Many of these jobs are run each night to ensure integrity of corporate computers.Network security is an essential part of any corporation today. The Internet and network capabilities are important business tools, but they provide a weak spot for many companies. In order to safeguard businesses, employees and clients, as well as comply with federal legislation regarding confidential information, companies need strong network security processes.