What is Network Security Monitoring?

What is Network Security Monitoring?

It seems that every network security precaution has at least one flaw. In fact, it is almost hard to imagine a cybersecurity model that doesn’t have at least one inherent weak spot. Unfortunately, some weaknesses are just endemic to the technology itself and cannot be fully nullified. However, the picture is not quite so bleak as it may seem. There are many things that you can do to keep yourself safe, and many of these things will work well together, creating a nice “layered” defense system. But nevertheless, we are often asked: What is the single best cybersecurity tool? The answer to that question is network security monitoring.

Why Is Network Security Monitoring The Best Cybersecurity Tool?

For the exact reason outlined above. Every security tool has weaknesses, but network monitoring can remove most of those weaknesses. If used properly, it has the potential to add more security to your system than any other single measure. Why? Well, that’s simple.

Network monitoring involves “keeping an eye” on the network. While hackers can often bypass traditional safeguards, they cannot do so without using your network against you. That’s why we often tell people to store their most secure data in an offline device. When a hacker tries to communicate with the network (for whatever reason) that traffic can be detected. For this reason, network monitoring is the best way to detect an attack while it is in progress. If you can do this, you can stop the attack before any real damage is done.

How Does Network Monitoring Work?

There are a number of free network monitoring tools on the web, like Zenmap and Wireshark (both of which are quite popular). However, these programs are generally meant for home users rather than large business networks. Using these tools to monitor your business network would require that you pay people to watch that data flow on a 24/7 basis. That’s a waste of money and a job that nobody wants.

Thankfully, this type of software is beginning to evolve rapidly. Newer network monitoring programs will be much more automated, reducing the need for constant human attention. They do still require the user to check results on a regular basis, but not a constant one. Here are some of the features that you should look for when shopping for automated network security monitoring software:

  • Make sure it says “network security monitoring” as opposed to regular network monitoring
  • DDOS protection
  • Instant alerts for the exfiltration of large files
  • Identification of cross-scripting attacks
  • Protection against SQL injection attacks
  • Tight control of all internet-using applications

Behind all the pages, letters, and graphics that you see, the internet consists of data packets. These are just small bundles of data (various kinds) that are transmitted between various web-connected devices. These packets deliver all the web content that you enjoy as well as the crucial services that you need. Unfortunately, they often contain sensitive data. They can sometimes be intercepted and pillaged for this purpose, especially if they are not encrypted in transit.

Do You Need Network Security Monitoring Software?

As we have said, automated network monitoring software is probably the single best way to protect your network. That being said, most home users don’t need to go this far to secure their data. Other options (like commercial VPNs and encrypted cloud backup services) can work well for the average person. However, all business networks need some sort of network security monitoring. These networks can be tied to large financial accounts and large transactions, so it would be foolish to neglect your strongest layer of protection.

A Few Useful Tips

There are definitely some things that you need to know in order to get the most out of your network security monitoring software. Let’s go over a few of the more important points.

First of all, you need to get an idea of what constitutes “normal” for your system. Have your IT people do a total wipe on one device, as well as a reset of all external network devices (servers, routers, etc.) Now, take a “snapshot” of your current system state. This will serve as your “normal” (i.e., baseline) point of reference. Any deviations from this should be investigated. The System Restore utility can be used to do this on a Windows computer, and there is a Linux program called Snapshot that is also very good.

Secondly, you need to think about where you will store that monitoring data. Network monitoring programs use something called a “packet sniffer” to record the data in transit, saving it to a file. Obviously, this file will contain any sensitive data that went over the network at that time. Thus, you need to keep it somewhere safe. The first option is an encrypted virtual container on your device. The higher-security option is to store them in an offline device (like an external hard drive).

Make sure you also understand the difference between active monitoring and data-at-rest monitoring. Active monitoring analyzes the contents of each packet as it travels across the network. Data-at-rest monitoring analyzes data that has already traveled from its source to its destination. Obviously, active real-time monitoring is the better option. Still, data-at-rest monitoring provides yet another layer of protection and should not be dismissed. It will also help if you learn more about PPE and CVF technology.

Conclusion

Network monitoring is a self-explanatory term. You are monitoring all the traffic that comes in or out of your network, giving you a better chance of catching suspicious activity. Not only that, but you can sometimes use network monitoring to obtain some of the hacker’s data. This might be very useful to the authorities in the event that a major breach occurs. In the end, there is no substitute for the attention of an expert, but automated network monitoring is the next best thing. If you would like to know more, please call PCH Technologies at (856) 754-7500.