Network Security Types
Imagine you’re the mayor of a bustling city. It’s your job to ensure the city is safe, functional, and running smoothly. That means you need traffic lights, police officers, and emergency services on standby. Now, think of network security as the infrastructural backbone of the digital city, ensuring order, maintaining peace, and preventing chaos.
Network security involves measures to protect a network’s data, usability, and integrity from threats. It employs various tools and technologies to monitor, detect, and prevent unauthorized access, misuse, or malfunctioning, ensuring smooth, secure, and efficient digital communications.
Type 1 – Intrusion Detection System (IDS): This acts like a digital security guard, always monitoring network traffic for suspicious activity or policy violations. It’s like having a detective on your team, scanning for threats and alerting you when things seem fishy.
Type 2 – Firewalls: Think of them as the doormen of your network. Firewalls keep a close eye on the traffic coming in and going out, deciding what gets through and what’s denied entry based on predefined rules.
Type 3 – Behavioral Analytics: Here’s where things get smart. Behavioral Analytics learn what ‘normal’ behavior looks like on your network and then raise a flag if they detect any unusual patterns. This allows security systems to catch new threats that haven’t been seen before, much like your favorite detective spotting clues others might miss.
Network Security Types In-depth
Intrusion Detection System (IDS)
Imagine you’ve hired a detective for your home. This detective watches the comings and goings all day and night. They know the usual visitors, the mailman, the neighbor’s cat, and can tell when someone or something unusual appears. Not just that, they can instantly tell you when they spot anything suspicious. This, in essence, is what an Intrusion Detection System (IDS) does for your network.
An IDS is like your very own Sherlock Holmes of the digital world. It keeps an eagle eye on all the data moving through your network. This includes incoming emails, website visits, file downloads – you name it! If it’s moving through your network, the IDS is watching it.
But what exactly is it looking for? Well, the IDS has a vast ‘database of mischief,’ known as signature databases. These databases contain patterns related to known malicious activities, like specific types of malware or hacking techniques. When the IDS spots a pattern that matches something in this database, it knows there’s potential trouble afoot.
Here’s where it gets even more interesting. Some IDS can also look for anomalies – patterns of behavior that deviate from what’s considered ‘normal’ for your network. Say, for example, you typically download 5 files a day, but suddenly 500 files are being downloaded. Your IDS will raise an alarm, much like a detective noticing a usually quiet neighbor throwing a wild party at 3 am.
And when your IDS spots something suspicious, it doesn’t keep the information to itself. It sends you an alert, giving you the information you need to act quickly.
Now, an important thing to remember is that an IDS doesn’t take action against these threats. It’s like a detective who observes and reports but doesn’t arrest the culprits. That’s a job for other security tools like firewalls and anti-malware software.
In a nutshell, an IDS is a critical piece of your network security system. It’s your digital detective, always vigilant and ready to inform you when something doesn’t seem quite right in your network neighborhood. With an IDS on your side, you’re always one step ahead of potential security threats.
Think about an exclusive club with a vigilant doorman. This doorman knows exactly who’s on the guest list, checking each person before letting them in. He also keeps an eye on what’s happening inside the club, making sure everyone is behaving appropriately. Now, replace the club with your network, and the doorman with a Firewall – that’s precisely how it operates!
A Firewall, in simple terms, is like the guard at the gate of your digital home. It’s the first line of defense, scrutinizing all the data coming in and going out of your network. Imagine it as a filter, checking each ‘data packet’ like our doorman checks IDs, ensuring only the good guys get in.
But how does a Firewall decide what to let through and what to block? Much like our doorman has a guest list, the Firewall has predefined security rules. These rules might specify acceptable sources of data, types of data, or destinations for outgoing data. If a data packet doesn’t meet these rules, the Firewall stops it in its tracks, ensuring your network stays safe and secure.
Here’s an example: Say you’ve told your Firewall not to accept any data from a specific website known for distributing malware. This rule is like telling the doorman not to let in someone who once caused trouble at the club. So, if a data packet from that site tries to enter your network, the Firewall will block it right away.
The power of Firewalls doesn’t stop at the door. Some advanced firewalls, often called next-generation firewalls (NGFWs), can inspect the data more deeply. They’re not just checking IDs at the door, but they’re mingling with the guests inside, making sure no one’s causing a ruckus. These NGFWs can catch hidden threats, like malware camouflaged as regular data, offering an even higher level of security.
In essence, a Firewall is an indispensable part of your network security strategy. It’s your reliable, always-on-guard doorman, filtering incoming and outgoing traffic based on your rules. With a solid Firewall in place, you can keep the party in your network going smoothly, without having to worry about uninvited guests causing chaos.
Have you ever watched a mystery movie where the detective predicts the culprit’s next move by studying their behavior? It’s as if the detective gets inside the culprit’s mind, understanding their actions even before they make a move. Behavioral Analytics in network security work similarly. They’re like the savvy mind reader, anticipating possible threats based on how things are behaving within your network.
Now, you might be wondering, how exactly does Behavioral Analytics work? It starts by getting to know what’s ‘normal’ for your network. Just like our detective studying a subject, Behavioral Analytics tools spend time observing usual patterns – like when and how much data is typically transferred, what kind of data is common, or who accesses what. This period of learning creates a baseline of normal behavior.
Once this ‘normal’ is established, the real magic begins. The system continually compares ongoing network activity to this baseline. It’s always looking for deviations, anything that falls outside the pattern of what’s considered normal. Let’s say a user who typically downloads 2-3 documents per day suddenly starts downloading hundreds. This change in behavior would raise a red flag, triggering an alert for further investigation.
Now, it’s important to note that not all deviations are harmful. Just like our detective might find out that a suspicious person was just a new neighbor, the Behavioral Analytics tool might discover that the change in behavior was due to a legitimate reason, like a new project at work. However, catching these anomalies early gives network administrators the chance to verify and validate the activities, significantly reducing the risk of significant security breaches.
But that’s not all. The beauty of Behavioral Analytics is that it can catch new, unseen threats. Traditional security tools rely on databases of known threats, like our detective might have a list of known criminals. But what about the unknown, the new threats that aren’t on any list yet? Behavioral Analytics is the solution here, spotting threats not by what they are, but by how they behave.
In a nutshell, Behavioral Analytics brings a proactive, predictive edge to network security. It’s the mind-reading detective of your digital world, always on the lookout for behaviors that don’t fit the ‘normal.’ With Behavioral Analytics in your security arsenal, you’re not just reacting to threats, but predicting and preventing them, keeping your network safe and secure.
As we’ve traveled through the world of network security, we’ve met our digital detective (Intrusion Detection Systems), the vigilant doorman (Firewalls), and the savvy mind reader (Behavioral Analytics). Each brings unique strengths to safeguard your digital domain, keeping your data safe and your operations running smoothly. Network security, at its core, is about staying one step ahead, knowing that the threats are ever-evolving. With the right mix of these tools, you’re not just reacting to cyber threats but predicting and preventing them. In the digital world, that’s your best line of defense.
How to stay safe online:
- Practice Strong Password Hygiene: Use a unique and complex password for each account. A password manager can help generate and store them. In addition, enable two-factor authentication (2FA) whenever available.
- Invest in Your Safety: Buying the best antivirus for Windows 11 is key for your online security. A high-quality antivirus like Norton, McAfee, or Bitdefender will safeguard your PC from various online threats, including malware, ransomware, and spyware.
- Be Wary of Phishing Attempts: Be cautious when receiving suspicious communications that ask for personal information. Legitimate businesses will never ask for sensitive details via email or text. Before clicking on any links, ensure the sender's authenticity.
- Stay Informed. We cover a wide range of cybersecurity topics on our blog. And there are several credible sources offering threat reports and recommendations, such as NIST, CISA, FBI, ENISA, Symantec, Verizon, Cisco, Crowdstrike, and many more.
Frequently Asked Questions
Below are the most frequently asked questions.
What's the difference between an IDS and a Firewall?
An Intrusion Detection System (IDS) and a Firewall serve different roles in network security. A Firewall acts as a gatekeeper, controlling incoming and outgoing network traffic based on predefined rules, much like a doorman. On the other hand, an IDS is like a detective, continuously monitoring network traffic and alerting you when it detects suspicious behavior or policy violations. However, unlike a Firewall, an IDS doesn’t block traffic or take actions against threats; it merely alerts you to their presence.
How does Behavioral Analytics help detect new threats?
Behavioral Analytics helps detect new threats by monitoring network behavior and identifying abnormal patterns. Traditional security tools rely on databases of known threats. However, Behavioral Analytics identifies threats based on behavior, not just known signatures. So, if a new, unknown threat starts causing unusual network behavior, Behavioral Analytics can flag it for investigation, making it a powerful tool for early threat detection.
Do I need all these types of network security, or is one enough?
Each type of network security we’ve discussed — Intrusion Detection Systems, Firewalls, and Behavioral Analytics — provides unique and critical protection layers. While one may offer some degree of protection, using them in combination provides a comprehensive defense strategy. Think of it as a team with different players; each brings a unique skill set, and together they form a complete and robust defense against various cyber threats. It’s always advisable to employ a multi-layered security approach to adequately protect your network.
Author: Tibor Moes
Founder & Chief Editor at SoftwareLab
Tibor is a Dutch engineer and entrepreneur. He has tested security software since 2014.
This website is hosted on a Digital Ocean server via Cloudways and is built with DIVI on WordPress.
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