Friday, December 9, 2022

Develop & Implement a Network Security Plan in 6 Easy Steps

A network security plan describes the rules for network access, outlines the network security environment, and explains network security policies throughout a company’s infrastructure.

Network security plans help a company protect their network, infrastructure, and data and prevent cyberattacks.

See below to learn all about how a company can develop a network security plan:

6 steps to a network security plan

1. Analyze Business Network And Infrastructure

A company’s network and infrastructure have data that is vital to the business. A company should analyze their network to see which data needs the most protection. This can include business assets and customer information.

Labeling assets by high, medium, and low importance helps a company identify and prioritize where they should focus their network security efforts. 

When a business analyzes their assets and data, other vital factors to consider.

Assessing Current Network Devices

Assessing may give a business the chance to see if updates need to be made, or if it is ready for the security plan.

Assessment options

Correcting Any Infrastructure Vulnerabilities

Correction of vulnerabilities is necessary, especially if a company has yet to create a plan. These need to be fixed before moving forward.

Steps Of Vulnerability Remediation Process

  1. Find vulnerabilities: Assessing a network will help with this step, and it will show what the focus is on the vulnerability remediation process.
  2. Prioritize vulnerability risk: The low, medium and high risk vulnerabilities should be identified and labeled as it needs to be prioritized. This helps the process by figuring out what needs to be addressed first.
  3. Fix the necessary vulnerabilities: This process involves patching, blocking, or fixing vulnerabilities to protect the network.
  4. Monitor at risk areas: Monitoring the vulnerabilities that have potential to be a risk again.

Determine Peak Usage

Peak usage is an important part of a company’s network to keep track of. When a company works hours such as 8 to 5, the peak usage is most likely between the hours of a business day. There is also a possibility that the time of year determines the peak usage. 

This is vital to keep track of the bandwidth usage to be sure the network stays active and available for use. This can be measured through an internet provider or software specialized to keep track of bandwidth usage. Applications can have heavier usage than others:

  • Malware: malware programs can be used to slow down a network by using many processes that are not valuable to the company
  • Internet calls: internet calls such as Zoom, Google Meet, or Microsoft Teams can slow down a network due to using multiple parts of the network at once
  • Network configuration problems: as a company grows, the network configuration must grow with it to ensure high availability for employees

These processes are a couple examples of seeing peak usage as well. The network will not function as well without taking into account the programs. Once the peak usage is determined, making inventory of the network must be determined. A company can use a bandwidth calculator for an estimate.

Determine Devices And Data Size

Network and infrastructure size needs to be measured before making a plan. If a company is unaware of parts of their network, it can be detrimental. Calculation devices and data of a business network is vital. If a company has a firewall, antivirus software, and other security measures, it is important to factor them in. Usage of devices is split into three main categories:

  • Light: light devices are usually measured at 100 Kbps or less, which can be devices such as printers, internet connected phones, streaming, and emailing others
  • Medium: medium devices are between 100-500 kbps, which is considered the standard and can be devices such as most laptops, Zoom calls, and basic computer software
  • Heavy: high devices are typically between 500 kbps and 2 Mbps which are devices that use cloud and application hosts, most servers, and point of sale

The volume of data is similar to devices. Volume of data handles latency, network capabilities, and machines. Often a network will determine the amount of data itself, and all a company will need to do is factor in devices and bandwidth.

After a business assesses their assets and data, they will be prepared to continue with making a plan.

Organizing Data and Network

Security professionals often recommend breaking down networks to reduce the load on the company’s servers. This process can open up bandwidth for different parts of the network, making the process easier to work with.

Creating nodes, broken-down networks, helps a company’s server and the data storage needed to keep the company running. The nodes will be put into its own server, and move to be similar to be connected to the main network.

Small organizations will only have a handful of nodes, while medium and large companies can have many servers. Breaking the data into smaller nodes can help with hardware and software like switches, servers, and network access points.

Once the company’s network has been established and analyzed, a company will be able to have a more accurate network security plan.

2. Develop A Corporate Security Plan

A corporate cybersecurity plan may include strategy and tactics on a range of technology, such as passwords, computers and applications, social media accounts, and Wi-Fi. All of these technologies can affect network security and be compromised by cybercriminals. Using antivirus, security software, and assessments helps a company stay protected.

Blueprint

Through assessments, the security infrastructure should be mapped out for future changes for security purposes. This is recommended to be finished before a business makes any changes. 

A blueprint made after observing the infrastructure will not only better the plan, but it is critical for the corporate security plan.

Steps to create a blueprint

  1. Find what needs to be secured in depth. This includes elements such as data analytics, current prevention technologies, and finding what parts of the system need protection from malware and cybercrimes.
  2. Find a security system that is helpful for the entire organization. Customers should be aware of any security changes protecting their data. The entire organization needs to be aware of changes of the security plan as well, including the compliance, legal, and developer teams, to ensure it is approved and implemented company-wide.
  3. Integration of technology into an organization’s security defenses. It is vital that a company ensures the blueprint is best for their security measures.

Once all of these steps have been taken, a company is ready to draft a blueprint for their corporate security plan.

3. Establish A Network Security Policy

Security experts know that a company should have a written network security policy, which sets expectations for employees and the company. 

The policy can cover a range of topics, such as logins, password managers, and web and email use, as well as specific security steps to protect the network and the company’s data.

Logins And Password Managers

Logins, both usernames and passwords, are important to address in a network security policy. Here is advice to consider while making a new username:

  • An employee should not use their name for a login username. This can easily be hacked by a cybercriminal.
  • While websites recommend using the beginning of the email address the account is under, that is not the safest direction to go into. Hackers could easily see this information.
  • Any username should be easy for an employee to remember, but not too easy where a cybercriminal can find it through any website, business or personal.
  • Never use personal numbers with usernames. Two examples are an employee or company’s address or date of birth.
  • No Social Security number or ID number as a username. This is safer for the company, but the employee as well.
  • Try an online username generator. These can be put into a password manager.

There are many password managers, however; not every password manager will be perfect for a company. For more information and examples of password managers, see 8 best enterprise password managers.

Website And Email Use

Many companies will monitor employee emails and web use to make sure they are using the best possible practices, and not falling for phishing attacks that might cause a data breach or data exposure.

Employees can be a security threat, if they sell or expose company data themselves. With monitoring, it will be easier to catch who and how. Some other practices to consider include:

  • Tell employees that their company email accounts are for business and not personal use
  • Define email communication in the network security policy. For example, if an employee sees a suspicious email, they should check with an administrator to make sure the email is safe to open. Encryption while sending company information is vital as well, especially when sending company information.
  • Define what punishment will be used against employees who fail to follow the policy.
  • Pay attention to potential email threats while filtering company emails.

Similarly, companies will track website use. Going to an unsecured website can cause information to be stolen from employees. This can cause a large loss of data, just as improper emails can.

4. Incident Response Procedures

Incident response helps a company deal with a cyberattack.

A company’s security team should be trained and ready to mitigate and halt cyberattacks or possible attacks. 

The team should also have infrastructure contingency plans in place as they work toward a resolution.

How To Create An Incident Response Plan

1. Preparation Of The Network

To prepare the network, a company must run a security assessment to detect the problems within the network. After previously analyzing the network, this step may already be completed. The company should focus on what assets they consider most vital to protect, and treat the issues protected. There are additional optional steps that a company might use to further their preparation. 

Team Focuses

  • Creating a communication plan
  • Create document roles
  • Assign employee responsibilities
  • Determine cybersecurity processes
  • Create a Cyber Incident Response Team (CIRT)

Once these preparations have been made, the company can move on to identifying network issues.

2. Identification Of Vulnerabilities

Once the vulnerabilities have been assessed by an assessment, the issues must be identified and labeled as high, medium, and low risk. The sensitive assets should be acknowledged thoroughly to ensure their total safety.

When assessing, a company can create a document keeping track of the vulnerable areas in the network.

3. Isolate The Vulnerabilities

Once the vulnerabilities are identified and detected, IT experts recommend isolating the vulnerability to prevent further damage on the network. Containing the issues can save a network from issues continuing to spread.

Two Ways To Contain Vulnerabilities

  • Short-term containment: isolating network segments or taking down the production servers to prevent further damage
  • Long-term containment: using temporary fixes to issues in the systems to allow them to still be used during production to rebuild clean systems

Using these containment styles can help a company have a safer network before they can correct these issues.

4. Eradicate The Vulnerabilities

Once the vulnerabilities are contained, a company can decide on the method they want to use to solve them. The most common way is to patch the vulnerability, and note that it may be an issue again.

Other Ways To Fix a Vulnerability

  • Hire a third-party cybersecurity company
  • Install antivirus software
  • Install firewalls

When a company chooses their method and eradicates the issues, a company should have complete recovery, and document all of the information.

5. Document Incident Information

Documenting the problems, issue areas, and possible risks are vital to creating accurate and efficient incident information documents. Some networks will have the information accessible easily, but it is helpful to have a document that is built by the employees who assessed the vulnerabilities and other issues. 

Once documentation has been written, creating an incident response plan will be more accurate for the company’s security. There are additional ways and methods to create an incident response plan.

Additional Incident Response Plan Information

  • How an employee should react based on their roles and responsibilities 
  • Have a list of the tools, technologies, and resources that will be in place in case of an incident 
  • Make a list of the critical information and data recovery abilities
  • Internal and external awareness and communication

5. Activate Essential Security Rules

A company should be prepared to identify the most critical security rules for their network. Outlining what policies and controls a company will use is a necessity for direction and communication within the security team and company.

Using the documentation from the incident response plan can help create rules for the company to follow.

Optional Rules For Company’s Network Security Plan

  • Only authorized employees should have access to the security systems they have been assigned to
  • Employees should be trained and follow the security awareness and cybersecurity training
  • Assessments should be completed often to keep system updated
  • Company processes and valuable assets should be confidential information

The rules should include how to use security systems and how to implement the cybersecurity best practices and tools.

Both in-office and remote employees are at risk if they are not aware of the security rules that have been put in place. Keep the whole company informed is vital to the activating of the security rules.

6. Ensure Long-Term Security

After establishing a network security plan, a company should set up ongoing and long-term security schedules, such as network security assessments, testing, and audits.

Ways To Ensure Long-term Security

  • Use encryption for valuable data
  • Set up a firewall
  • Use a virtual private network (VPN)
  • Monitor network performance
  • Use malware and antivirus software
  • Create strong passwords for business accounts
  • Set up two-factor authentication for accounts
  • Educate all employees on cybersecurity measures

Using diagnostic and monitoring tools is essential to help ensure network security stays current and effective as cyberthreats change. 

After completing these steps, a company can feel at ease with their network security plan and infrastructure. Securing a company’s network is a vital part of keeping the company safe. A network security plan will keep a company protected from cyberattacks.

See more: Best Enterprise Network Security Tools and Solutions.

What Components Should Be A Part Of A Network Security Plan?

Here are some of the key tools a company can use to develop a network security plan:

See more: Guide to Penetration Testing vs. Vulnerability Scanning

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