Integrated network security architecture refers to a unified system of different network security features across a network. It provides a systematic approach to designing and implementing a set of cybersecurity measures that are synergistic and mutually supportive to one another, to provide an increased level of protection.
With an integrated network security architecture, you can integrate multiple layers of protection into one cohesive system. This includes technologies, people, processes and policies. These layers work together to provide comprehensive protection for the company’s IT resources and data. It involves selecting hardware, software and services, their configuration and deployment, and how they are managed.
The security method is often referred to as the “defense-in-depth” approach. This means that it focuses on protecting data from a variety of different angles, as opposed to using just one single method. No wonder it has proven to be the most effective means of securing your network.
The three main layers of network security architecture are:
I. The Physical Layer
This includes everything from the cables and wireless antennas to the actual devices that make up your network. It is a form of perimeter protection that shields your network from wireless interference.
II. The Data Link Layer
This is where all data passes through on its way to being transmitted over the network. By default, this poses a vulnerable pathway requiring network and data protection.
III. The Network Layer
It is also referred to as endpoint protection because it is the last layer to ensure your network’s security.
Why is Integrated Network Security Architecture Important?
The integration of network security architecture is important as it helps to protect the network against cyber threats. It effectively provides a holistic view of the entire system, which is necessary for maintaining a secure and reliable network environment.
Network security is a vital part of any organization’s IT infrastructure. It is important to have an integrated network security architecture in place to protect the organization’s data and resources. This is especially crucial for organizations or even individuals that have data that they want to protect.
Four Proven Practices In Integrated Network Security Architecture
I. Perform a Threat Assessment of Your Organization’s Networks
A threat assessment is a process of identifying the potential threats to an organization and then determining how these threats might be realized. This would help to determine what measures to take to prevent it, thereby protecting your network and data.
Therefore, during any threat assessment, the first thing to do is to identify the assets in your organization. This aims to determine what would be at the risk in an attack. By putting yourself in the shoes of an attacker, you will be able to detect the assets that need to be protected.
The next step is to determine what type of threats might be present. It is important to know what kind of technology your company uses and how it might be vulnerable. Note that the major difference between threats and vulnerability is that threats are those who would want to cause harm, while vulnerabilities are weaknesses that the threats can exploit.
The last step is to develop a response plan for preventing, detecting, and responding to threats. This includes prioritizing the threats and vulnerabilities based on their level of severity and probability of occurrence.
When it comes to integrated network security architecture, threats can be categorized in two ways:
- Technical Threats – A technical threat is when a system or network is compromised through a computer exploit or malware that disrupts its operations. This type involves exploiting security vulnerabilities in software or hardware to gain access to data and resources. Some common examples are; hacking, malware, denial of service attacks, etc.
- Non-Technical Threats – This takes a more hands-on approach and can consist of things like insider fraud and theft of trade secrets.
II. Conduct a Business Impact Analysis
A business impact analysis is a process that can help an organization identify its risks and impacts related to network disruptions or attacks. It also helps businesses understand the vulnerabilities they might have.
It serves as a methodology that can be used to assess the impacts of disruption that might occur in the event of a cyber attack.. The analysis should be conducted by the risk management team, with input from other stakeholders within the organization.
The main objective of this analysis is to identify and prioritize risks and impacts, as well as to understand how an event will affect different parts of the organization. Analysis should also help in understanding how much time is required for recovery after a disruption or attack.
This type of analysis helps the business make decisions to mitigate its risks and impacts for the future. If an organization fully understands what would happen if there were network disruptions or attacks on their systems, it will help them understand the precise impact it might have on their business operations. Moreover, it could also prepare them for a scenario where events could happen more frequently in the future.
III. Develop a Strategy for Handling Security Incidents
Security incidents are occurring these days at an unprecedented rate. This includes any event that can negatively impact the confidentiality, integrity, or availability of an organization’s data.
It is important to have a strategy in place for how to handle them, which includes clear priorities, responsibilities, and procedures. Below is a tested incident response plan template or incident response process that you need to emulate.
IV. Assess the Severity of the Situation
When faced with a security threat, the first step is to assess the severity of the security incident and determine whether it needs to be handled by higher-level personnel or not.
If it does, they should be notified and assigned responsibility for handling the incident. If not, then a lower-level employee should take on responsibility for handling it themselves or with assistance from someone else who is available and qualified to do so.
Your assessment should follow this pattern:
- Think about the threats that you are likely to face.
- Make sure that your plan is flexible enough to adapt to new threats as they emerge.
- Consider the need for interoperability with other networks, such as your partners’ networks, suppliers’ networks and customers’ networks, when designing your network architecture.
- Determine the level of protection needed, and how much funding is available before designing your security architecture and plan.
Consider your business needs and how much risk you are willing to take on, your when designing your security architecture and plan so that these factors can be aligned.
Contain the Damage
The second priority in handling a security incident is to contain the damage. This includes notifying those who need to know, containing the spread of any virus or malware, and preventing future incidents. Depending on the type of breach, this may include initiating a forensic investigation or contacting law enforcement.
Your containment strategy should:
- Properly segment networks with firewalls
- Perform vulnerability assessments
- Implement intrusion detection systems
- Install antivirus protection on all devices
- Use two-factor authentication for access to data and accounts
- Protect endpoints with endpoint security solutions
- Ensure that servers are patched and updated regularly
- Encrypt sensitive data that is stored on the network or devices
Prevent Similar Future Attacks
The third priority when it comes to integrated network security architecture is to identify what happened and how it happened. This includes identifying who and what data was affected by the breach, if any other systems were compromised, and how to prevent similar future attacks.
Make sure that your prevention plan encompasses the two implementations below:
- Develop an operational plan
- Implement controls to address identified risks in the system design, physical architecture, logical architecture designs, and operational plans.
IV. Assign IT Staff to Identified Roles & Tasks
By having a dedicated IT security team, you can effectively delegate security roles and responsibilities to ensure quick detection and mitigation of present and future security threats.
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