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Network Security Monitoring

5 Factors That Affect the Security of a Network

April 11, 2024

6 minute read

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Enterprise security for an IT network is a top priority for modern businesses. When addressing network security, several factors come into play and incomplete network security strategies can inhibit an organization’s ability to protect themselves from cybersecurity threats.

Organizations often cite cybersecurity as a core aspect of their company structure, but not nearly enough are taking adequate steps to create comprehensive, layered cybersecurity strategies.

Today, we’re going to be taking a look at some common factors that can negatively affect the security of a network, and talk about how you can address them. In this blog we’re going to cover:

  1. Improper Configurations
  2. Employee Education
  3. Outdated Software
  4. Access Controls
  5. Compliance Protocols

Understanding how each of these factors influences the overall security of your network is integral to developing and implementing a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy that addresses vulnerabilities and minimizes cyber risk.

For more information on how you can build a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy to protect your network, review DOT Security’s Infographic: The Layered Cybersecurity Defense.

The Importance of Network Security Management

Network security management is essential for safeguarding organizations against cyber threats and protecting critical data and resources. By implementing policies, procedures, and technologies to secure network infrastructure, network security management helps mitigate risks, enhance resilience, and maintain trust with both internal and external stakeholders.

Effective network security management ensures the protection of sensitive data, including customer information and intellectual property, from unauthorized access or breaches. It also plays a crucial role in preventing cyberattacks by proactively identifying and addressing vulnerabilities in network systems, reducing the risk of disruptions to business operations.

Additionally, powerful network security maintains business continuity by ensuring uninterrupted access to critical network infrastructure. It also facilitates compliance with regulatory requirements concerning data protection and privacy, helping organizations avoid costly fines and reputational damage associated with non-compliance.

Ultimately, by demonstrating a commitment to safeguarding sensitive information and data, organizations can build trust, enhance credibility, and position themselves for long-term success in the interconnected digital environment of the modern market.

Let’s jump into some of the most influential factors affecting network security.


1. Improperly Configured Hardware and Devices

When security professionals install the necessary software to fulfill a cyber strategy, whether through pushing it via a remote MDM (mobile device management) system or locally, they must ensure that the correct protections have been afforded to the correct devices.

If network entry points have not been properly configured, they present potential vulnerabilities and increase the network’s attack surface (the opportunity for hackers to gain access).

Here are some examples of vulnerabilities created by a poorly configured hardware setup:

  • File and directory permissions that are not setup correctly
  • Server software that hasn’t been updated or security issues yet to be patched
  • Accessible admin debugging functions
  • Admin accounts that have poor password controls
  • Improperly configured SSL certificates and encryption settings

The security of a network is only as good as the people who are managing it, and if these basic aspects of security maintenance are not being monitored correctly and devices and hardware are left misconfigured, then that’s a big vulnerability for an organization’s network.


2. Inadequate Cybersecurity Education

Even if a network is configured correctly—as in it’s as protected as it can be—it can't stop an end user being manipulated into handing over sensitive information through social engineering.

An overwhelming majority of cyberattacks occur because of human error, and this is a vulnerability that is caused by end users simply not being prepared to deal with social engineering attacks. Like was seen recently in the major cyberattacks on MGM and Caesars casino groups.

Cybercriminals rely on pursuing the path of least resistance when they attempt to breach an organization. They understand that they will not be able to successfully breach everyone they target, but they do understand the law of averages—that is to say: at some point, someone will click on a link they’re not supposed to or download an attachment they shouldn’t.

Social engineering cyberattacks, like phishing, vishing, and smishing, are the primary way hackers gain access to networks, and these rely exclusively on preying on those who do not know what to look for when being targeted—most often via email.

As a result, the workforce itself is the biggest vulnerability to a network, and this means businesses should take great efforts to ensure the probability of one of their staff accidentally handing over sensitive information is minimized as much as possible.

This is done through security awareness training, a solution that educates end users in what to look out for and how to deal with malicious social engineering attempts.

3. Outdated Software

Much like how improperly configured hardware creates a big vulnerability for organizations, outdated software can also mean danger around the corner.

Zero-day attacks are cyberattacks where malicious actors discover a vulnerability in a piece of software and then attempt to take advantage of that vulnerability before it is fixed by the application's developers.

These are known as exploits and are very dangerous. The window of opportunity is small, but if a hacker can use this exploit to their advantage, they can gain access to networks, data, and information.

Software developers will provide updates to end users and recommend to download them to avoid zero-day attacks as much as possible, but users who do not update or take time to update will be vulnerable to potential attacks.

This can usually be avoided through mobile device management (MDM), a solution whereby IT staff can remotely “push” updates to users and effectively force them to update their software applications.

MDM platforms also give complete oversight of all the devices under network, allowing them to see who’s up to date and who is not; making this process significantly easier and providing full visibility.

4. Poor Access Controls

Access controls are a fundamental aspect of information and network security by consistently asking the question of who should have access to what.

In an organization with poor access controls, they may by, default, allow all end users in a network access to sensitive data, even if they don’t need it. Information security works off the premise of only providing access to data to those who cannot perform their jobs and responsibilities without it, commonly referred to as the principle of least privilege.

The benefit of this is that data is handled only by those who need it, and this reduces the number of vulnerabilities and the attack surface by a large degree.

For companies that are yet to enforce access controls in their network, they should consider implementing the correct protocols as soon as feasible.

In addition to this, information security is a big part of many modern compliance regulations, which legally restrict who has the right to access certain types of data—this is particularly the case in fields such as finance and healthcare, though more industries are quickly adopting data privacy and compliance regulations of their own.

5. Lack of Compliance Protocols

New regulations regarding the use and storage of data (especially as they pertain to customers) are coming into force every year.

California has CCPA, New York has SHIELD, the medical industry has HIPAA, and a number of other states are implementing similar measures which aim to ensure businesses are appropriately safeguarding data.

Because of this, those who are not in compliance are putting themselves and their network in a position of vulnerability.

Many compliance standards address aspects that can be found in modern cybersecurity strategies offered by managed security service providers (MSSP) like DOT Security.

CMMC, for example, bases its practices on the NIST framework.

Businesses should conduct a risk audit and a gap analysis to understand what regulations they need to be in compliance with and what network vulnerabilities they currently have as a result of not meeting these compliance standards.

Wrapping up on Network Security

There are several factors that can affect the security of a network and these vulnerabilities exist in many organizations today. These can range from poorly configured hardware set ups to end users who are uneducated on social engineering attacks.

In addition to this, the importance of minimizing cyber risk is exacerbated by the fact that compliance regulations legally mandate data privacy protocols and standards.

Companies that don’t currently have a network security strategy in place should consider conducting a risk audit that will uncover glaring vulnerabilities across their network which can then be addressed with sophisticated cybersecurity solutions.

To start addressing your cybersecurity posture in a more complete way, review DOT Security’s Infographic: The Layered Cybersecurity Defense.