What is network security and why is it important?

Alie Ashryver

Oct 18, 2022

8 min read

“Guards! Secure the roads. Walk the path and keep an eye out for possible ambush points. The King’s not getting attacked on my watch!” shouted the Lord commander at his soldiers. “Why bother about the roads! Won’t we be guarding the carriages as always?” a single voice cut across the scattered chorus of ‘Aye captain!’ The battle-hardened commander smirked a little as he said,” No number of royal guards can save the King if the enemy decides to ambush us on the roads, and we are taken by surprise. You see, boy, there’s only so far you can go with protecting your parcel without knowing the roads you travel with it. But, if we secure the network of roads beforehand, we can ensure a safe way with minimal hiccups.”

Whoa! That was quite the conversation. So now that the Kingsguard is busy doing what they do best – protecting the King, let’s get down to business, shall we? Today, centuries after, the Lord Commander’s words still hold true, secure the networks! Not just the roads people travel but the ones that transmit data, the computer networks. So, here’s a take on the ‘Whats’, ‘Whys’, and ‘Hows’ of network security.

What is Network Security?

In the simplest terms, network security is just that: securing the network. In today’s world, data prints bills and mints coins, the money-maker in every sense of the word. So, it’s only natural for any organization to take all sorts of measures to safeguard it. And not just protect the data but also ensure that the route it travels is safe and secure.

Organizations are generally inclined to secure the integrity, accessibility and confidentiality of their data and network. They make use of both hardware and software to achieve this. And why not! After all, protection against any potential threat or unauthorized access is the crux of network security. So adding to the simple definition, network security is a term blanketing many technologies, processes and devices.

Network security is often confused with cyber security. The two terms, although used interchangeably, are not the same. Network security is the river to the ocean that is cybersecurity. Securing the network protects vulnerabilities of the system like:

  • Data
  • Users
  • Locations
  • Devices
  • Applications

Now that we know what network security is, we should lay the foundations to implement it. But how do we go about it? Do we just secure the network? Is it that simple? Well, it is and it isn’t. Don’t worry! Let’s break it down….

Computer Network Elements (CNEs):
Before strategizing network security, it is essential to understand what exactly it is that you are securing. Objects used in a computer network, include computers, transmission medium, protocols and network software.

Why is Network Security important?

Still, the question remains: is network security really important? The simple answer is ‘Yes.’ The world is constantly evolving and becoming more and more complex. And never before has the network architecture been so complex. Securing the network can protect sensitive data from cyber-attacks and ensure the network is usable and trustworthy.

From a business perspective, even the tiniest downtime can incur losses worth millions. Consequently, eliminating downtime due to successful attacks can improve network performance. In addition, network security strategies employ multiple lines of defense that are both scalable and automated. As a result, network security bolsters an organization’s ability to deliver products and services to its clients.

How does Network Security work?

Network security spans the different layers of the security architecture with three major types of control:

  • Physical – Biometric access control systems, locks, guards, access control cards, surveillance cameras, data center perimeter fencing, and intrusion detection sensors
  • Technical – Technology used to reduce vulnerabilities in both hardware and software like encryption, firewalls, etc.
  • Administrative – Policies and procedures adopted by the company are examples of administrative network protection

Any unauthorized access to the network can surveil the traffic and map the infrastructure leaving the organization vulnerable. An attacker can exploit these vulnerabilities leading to a whole new mess that needs to be fixed by the IT team. Hence why the complete, multilayered security architecture implementing network security provides two fundamental functions:

  • Access Control – Who gets access to what
  • Threat Control – Detecting and responding to threats

Tools for Network Security:

Now that we have brushed up on the basics, let’s look at what we can use to implement network security.


What is the first thing you notice about any college, school, institution or corporate organization? The enormous, foreboding wall, obviously! Maybe the gates, too, but keep the gates aside for now and let’s focus…. THE WALL! What does the wall do? It keeps the campus separate from the outside world, restricting the communication between the two. Yup! This right here sketches the general purpose of a firewall. A firewall separates the internal network from the external network. It monitors the traffic for malicious behavior.

Access controls

What is the best way to keep enemies away from attacking your belongings? Ensure that they don’t have any means of accessing them. Yet another principle that works for network security. Access control is a security technique that dictates who gets to see and use what. It performs identification, authentication and authorization of users and other entities like accounts.

Intrusion Prevention System (IPS)

When we have a wall, it’s only natural to have guards patrolling the area and securing it. So why should securing the network be any different? Sitting just behind the firewall, an intrusion prevention system is placed in the network traffic flow. IPS continuously monitors a network for malicious activity. When a malicious activity does indeed occur, an IPS takes action to thwart it:

  • Reporting: Alerting administrators
  • Blocking traffic from the source address
  • Resetting the connection
  • Dropping the packet (data)

Endpoint security vs network security: Why one is not enough

Virtual Private Network (VPN)

Most of us are very familiar with VPNs. VPN extends a private network using a public network like the internet, creating a safe and encrypted connection over a less secure network. This encrypted connection ensures the safe transmission of data. Preventing unauthorized people from eavesdropping on the traffic is an added perk.

Antivirus and antimalware software

We know what an antivirus is, at least from a medical perspective. It is more or less the same from a network security point of view. Antiviruses can provide real-time protection against virus attacks. Additionally, they can block and delete malicious code and software. On the other hand, antimalware software works on a broader spectrum of threats like worms, trojans, etc. Antimalware and antivirus are meant to be used together to ensure maximum safety.

Implementing techniques

Have a look at some other tools and techniques designed to aid in securing the network:

  • Securing emails – Prevent email communication and the account from being compromised
  • Segmented networks – Configure what traffic to allow and what to restrict
  • Anomaly detection – Quickly respond to breaches by constantly monitoring and analyzing the network
  • Data loss prevention (DLP)– Prevent sensitive data from being compromised or leaving the network
  • Web security – Securing of websites and servers from online risks

What Hexnode offers….

Hexnode has never shied away from the hard work it takes to ensure they offer their best. So, it’s no wonder Hexnode has a seasoned security team working around the clock at its disposal. In addition, the security team is trained to detect, prevent and mitigate security threats. On another note, Hexnode offers an easy and efficient way to configure policies ensuring network security across different platforms. Admins can then push these policies to the targeted devices directly from the portal.

Hexnode enables the admins to configure policies allowing devices to connect to a secure Wi-Fi network. So, the user won’t know the password for the Wi-Fi network. Whew! No worries regarding Wi-Fi passwords being shared recklessly. Then there are the APN configurations. The carrier service provider usually sets up APN configurations. Hexnode enables organizations to have a distinct private network for devices to connect.

Hexnode provides for configuring the firewall settings for both Windows and macOS. IT admins can apply these configurations to provide real-time protection from malware, spyware and the likes.

IT teams can configure the settings to allow users to send data through a private network. An extra layer of security serving right up! How about separating traffic at the app level? Segregating personal and corporate data sounds relieving, right? Hexnode has incorporated Apple’s clause that allows setting up a VPN connection on a per-app basis for iOS and iPadOS in its policy template. So, maintain the privacy of personal data while securing corporate data.

Hexnode also enables admins to bind macOS devices to the AD domain remotely.

Provisions across platforms:

Wrapping up…

The knock-on effect of a data breach can leave any company in ruins. Unfortunately, it won’t take much. One loophole is all it would take for a hacker to ruin your dreams and turn them to ash. Don’t worry, though. As the wise old men say, an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure.

So, kick back, relax and let Hexnode hash out the details of ensuring network security across all your devices.

Alie Ashryver

Product Evangelist @ Hexnode. Gimme a pen and paper and I'll clear up the cloud of thoughts in ma head...

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