IT definitions: Computer, cyber and network security in business

Cyber and network security is likely going to be a major priority for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in 2020, as the threat of data breaches, network intrusions and other malicious attacks continue to loom. A Risk Based Security study revealed in the first half of 2019 alone, 4.1 billion records were compromised by data breaches, a 54% increase over the previous year.

With no indication that cybercriminal activity is going to abate anytime soon, SME leaders need to familiarise themselves with the fundamental principles of network and data security, and revamp their cybersecurity strategies to address the most pressing threats. Let's break down some of the important network security definitions you need to know.

Intrusion prevention

Many malicious actors will probe business networks, looking for vulnerabilities they can exploit. Unpatched systems and unsupported platforms are especially popular access points for cybercriminals and other individuals looking to gain unauthorised access to sensitive data.

Intrusion prevention often acts as the first line of defence against data breach attempts, including a wide variety of security tools designed to identify security threats and prevent them from accessing your network. Anti-virus software, for instance, detects the signatures of known executable threats, automatically blocking their attempts to run malicious software.

Intrusion prevention measures keep bad actors out of your core business systems.Intrusion prevention measures keep bad actors out of your core business systems.

Firewalls are another important component to intrusion prevention, dictating which data packets can transmit across your network. There are more advanced forms of intrusion prevention that act as a safeguard in the event that network-level defences are breached. These security mechanisms actively seek out malicious activity that attempts to hide within legitimate network traffic. Rather than rely on definitive threat signatures like anti-virus software, sophisticated monitoring tools look for suspicious activity that might indicate the presence of a threat.

Access control

It's important to recognise that there are threats lurking both inside and outside your network. Your employees can put your sensitive data at risk of exposure, whether through malicious intent or sheer negligence. In both instances, access control solutions are necessary to manage who can get their hands on business databases, systems, applications and platforms.

Data security best practises urge SMEs to restrict user access as a default position, and only granting it to individuals who have been vetted and authorised. By doing so, organisations protect themselves against scenarios in which an employee's account is compromised and allows a malicious actor to gain access to any number of sensitive files and databases.

Access control requires a deft hand, as overly restrictive practises could prevent staff members from carrying out their day-to-day job responsibilities. At the same time, SMEs should never sacrifice the security of their data for the sake of employee convenience. Finding the right balance between these two demands is critical.

Employees who do not follow data security best practices present considerable risk.Employees who do not follow data security best practices present considerable risk.

Zero-day attacks

The global cybersecurity community continuously searches for the latest malware threats and exploits in use today. Despite those tireless efforts, not all threats can be catalogued and remediated before they have an opportunity to strike. Zero-day attacks refer to any type of cybersecurity threat – exploit, malware, etc. – that has yet to be identified. There is no way to prevent them from accessing your network because cybersecurity professionals haven't had a chance to analyse and address them.

The presence of zero-day attacks further drives the need for sophisticated intrusion prevention measures that monitor your systems, searching for suspicious activity. Data security best practises have gravitated from a prevention-first to remediation-focused approach. Creating a network security plan that assumes you will eventually experience a data breach is advisable, given how much the odds are stacked against SMEs.

To that end, SMEs should establish security plans that include data breach response protocols. In the event of a network intrusion, employees will know exactly how to address the breach and will be able to minimise its impact on your business.

Biztech's expert team can help you establish a robust data security posture that puts your business in the best possible position to stave off a data breach. Contact us today to learn more about our security services.