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Network Security and Performance Monitoring: The Basics

Network Security and Performance Monitoring: The Basics

Network Security and Performance Monitoring: The Basics

Any business that maintains a network or series of networks in its infrastructure needs to keep network security in mind. Enterprises use networks to deliver data, files, applications, etc. from one location to another. The information that travels through a network is, more often than not, business-critical or sensitive. If something happens to that data as it crosses the network, it could potentially compromise the network, any devices connected to it, or your entire business.

Devising effective security plans for your network means incorporating the right tools and practices to keep your network safe. Security threats are not just dangerous to your enterprise’s safety, but they can also be a key influence on a network’s performance. Malware can slow network speeds and disable devices and nodes installed on your network. Below, we outlined the basics of network security and how network performance monitoring can help keep your networks safe.

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How security threats affect network performance

A network’s performance can be affected by a number of different factors, and security threats are no exception. If your network infrastructure isn’t secure, harmful actors may enter your network and target specific network functions or devices. If these areas of the network become unavailable, your network performance will inevitably suffer as a result. Some of the ways network performance can be affected by security problems include:

Overloading the network

A security attack might be design to either strain or eliminate a network’s resources. Once malware enters the network, it may continuously send requests for data to deliberately use up your available bandwidth. The severity of an attack like this could range from slowing the network down to a full-scale denial-of-service (DoS) attack. Whatever the intent, excessive or harmful data usage will put a huge strain on your network’s performance. Without the right security resources in place, your network will have to work hard to keep up.

Another way security threats can overload your network is by installing resource-draining applications and leaving them to use up bandwidth. A network performance monitoring (NPM) solution can sweep for any unwanted software and alert your team to it so you can take steps to remove it from your infrastructure.

Disabling devices

Security threats can target any hardware on your network’s infrastructure. Malware might try to bring down either devices connected to the network or the network nodes that you have installed. Security breaches can disable devices through numerous methods, and nonoperational hardware means that your network has less physical resources to rely on for data transmissions.

Data destruction

Your network creates and stores a ton of data on a daily basis which devices on the network constantly wants to access. This data is usually essential to your business and, as such, is a prime target for security threats. Malware can intercept and destroy data on a network, either as it travels from node to node or as it waits on a device.

Reconfiguring access control

Network teams need to define access control parameters in order to prevent unauthorized access to sensitive information. Security threats, if they’re on your network, can attempt to reconfigure those parameters to allow for easier access to that information. The threat actors might then deliberately request that information or make it inaccessible to your enterprise.

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Multi-layered network security strategies

Companies must protect their networks and the data that flows through them. This protection should cover both outside threats attempting to invade the network alongside internal security gaps. Security threats could come from anywhere – external or on-site hackers, unsecured devices, and even employees misusing your network. Enterprise networks can be massive and complex, and each installation needs to comply with the same security protocols across your entire infrastructure.

A multi-layered network security plan incorporates security protocols and tools that attack incoming security threats and search for hidden ones. By combining both attack and passive security monitoring, you can ensure that your business defends against network attacks and discovers harmful actors lying in wait to strike. Your company should employ both perimeter and endpoint security tools to keep incoming threats from reaching the rest of your network. However, it also needs to secure its network internally by examining devices and nodes. A network can never be 100% secure, but establishing a defense against multiple attack vectors prepares you against actors that affect your network performance.

How can a network monitoring solution improve security?

An enterprise can deploy multiple different technologies to improve their network security. These technologies help protect the network from dangerous attackers and examine for any warning signs that indicate a security breach or threat. A network performance monitoring (NPM) solution improves security by constantly check the performance levels of your network. This includes monitoring bandwidth usage, examining traffic flow, and checking the status of devices and nodes.

Reporting unusual traffic levels

One of the telltale signs of malware on your network is spikes in data traffic. Your NPM tool should have a baseline established so it knows what your regular network performance is. This includes knowing how much data typically flows through the network, including between particular points. With this baseline, the NPM can detect abnormal (and potentially harmful) data traffic on your network more easily

Device monitoring

If a security threat is specifically designed to disable devices and nodes, you need a solution that constantly checks on the state of the hardware on your network. Most NPM tools are equipped to monitor device health and operations, allowing your enterprise to keep its hardware in line. An NPM solution might ping every device and node from time to time to ensure the device is functioning. If it doesn’t receive a response, it can flag the network team to investigate for hardware failure.

Data packet capturing and analysis

As part of their performance monitoring functions, NPM solutions can copy data packets that travel through a network and analyze them. This helps them identify performance issues, such as packet loss or low throughput. It can also be used to find security threats on the network by scanning for harmful activity or suspicious data.

Our Network Monitoring Buyer’s Guide contains profiles on the top network performance monitor vendors, as well as questions you should ask providers and yourself before buying.

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