What is network security?
Network security refers to all the products, capabilities, processes, and intelligence that go into protecting network infrastructure, endpoints and data against network-based attacks, security breaches and misuse. Network security ensures safe, secure and reliable data exchange across networks - every time, all the time.
Why is network security so important?
As enterprise digitalization, 5G transformation and the coming metaverse move more of our daily activities online, service provider networks and the cloud applications they support become increasingly important components of the way we live, work and play. With this increasing importance comes an even greater desire to attack, breach or sabotage networks for political or criminal gain. Data breaches and network attacks are at an all-time high, threatening the usability and integrity of critical infrastructure and services – from banking to retail to resource production - on a national and international scale.
A multi-faceted network security strategy – from self-defending networks infrastructure to endpoint security to security orchestration – is necessary to ensure the online world we increasingly depend on remains safe, secure and accessible against all network-level cyber attacks.
What are some of the different kinds of network security?
Endpoint security and IoT security
Endpoint security and IoT security protect all computers, servers, handsets, and other devices connected to networks from network-based attacks including botnets, worms, malicious code, viruses, trojans, ransomware, application layer attacks, and other forms of malware. These solutions rely on centralized threat intelligence analytics that continuously monitor networks and endpoints looking for malware activity. Once identified, malware activity is blocked to prevent security breaches, and security operations teams are notified accordingly.
IoT security is a subset of endpoint security focused on shielding internet-connected devices.
Access security and digital identity management
These solutions manage the security credentials, digital identities and processes used to authenticate network elements and users for network access and data exchange. Specific applications include managing the privileged access of administrators as they tap into physical or virtual networks infrastructure, the creation and lifecycle of security certificates and public keys used to establish digital trust in network communications, and new Secure Identify Management (SIM) solutions designed for secure, mass-scale 5G IoT deployments
Security orchestration tools unify multiple network security products, technologies, and data sets to provide operators with greater insight and control of the many security threats impacting their networks. Data from multiple sources are aggregated, enriched, and used to drive security policies that reduce time to detection, investigation, and remediation. Security orchestration tools can be packaged with endpoint security, threat intelligence, and other elements to provide comprehensive security operations authentication and remediation (SOAR) out-of-the-box, or they can be provided as part of cloud-based security-as-a-service offerings.
DDoS defense tools are used to quickly identify and mitigate Distributed Denial of Service attacks that target service provider networks and the many endpoints, services, and corporate networks they support. DDoS detection requires big-data security analytics augmented with machine learning and a multi-dimensional view of networks to quickly – and accurately - identify the many types of DDoS attacks plaguing today’s networks, including botnet, reflection, amplification, syn flood, and ransomware. Modern IP routers that support mass-scale, high-performance, silicon-based filtering play an important role in DDoS detection and DDoS mitigation by allowing big-data security analytics to protect all network assets and customers from DDoS attacks, not just a select few.
Network encryption is used to protect the integrity, authenticity and confidentiality of data being transported across networks from security breaches and man-in-the-middle attacks. Encryption capabilities are available at virtually all network layers. At the optical and microwave layers, AES-256 encryption and symmetric key distribution are used to protect against brute force attacks from universal quantum computers. IPsec gateways are heavily used in 4G/5G mobile transport by providers moving their IP backhaul links from secure private lines to open public networks. New encryption techniques focused on MPLS, Segment Routing and other transport mechanisms are being embedded in network silicon to help service providers protect all data-in-flight from an increasingly hostile threat landscape.
Firewalls are used to stop unsolicited or illegitimate traffic from entering a secure network zone by creating pinholes that allow only solicited or legitimate traffic to pass through. Firewalls keep track of Transmission Control Protocol (TCP), GPRS Tunneling Protocol (GTP), administration and maintenance (OAM), and other solicited network flows to quickly identify and block unsolicited attempts to access the control, user and management planes of network functions and applications. Best-of-breed firewalls for mobile gateways also provide DDoS protection against amplification attacks, anomaly attacks, and botnet attacks that specifically target mobile subscribers and RAN resources.
Self-defending network infrastructure
Self-defending network infrastructure allows the network to provide a more scalable and cost-effective way of protecting itself and all the services that depend on it by integrating DDoS filtering, encryption, and other security capabilities that would otherwise be provided by external stacks of security appliances. Security capabilities, and considerations are built into every layer of network infrastructure from the network silicon all the way to the net OS, to provide a zero-trust network foundation.