How to Secure a Network [+ 10 Types of Security]

4 min read

Many of the day-to-day functions of society rely on digital infrastructure. Everything from methods of communication, financial transactions, healthcare access and transportation has been revolutionized by advancements in technology – and the trend shows no signs of slowing. With that comes an urgency for sophisticated network security solutions to protect against ever-evolving, cyber-related threats.

A 2022 survey by IBM shows that 83% of companies surveyed have experienced more than one data breach, putting money, personal data and valuable assets at risk.

In an effort to prioritize protection, businesses and organizations are investing heavily in network security, including the professionals needed to safeguard systems.

This guide will give you a better understanding of specific network security solutions, how to make a career of your own in the high-value field and planning next steps.

Understanding Network Security

Network security is a sector of cybersecurity that focuses on protecting computer networks from various threats, for example, malware, phishing, ransomware and more. Depending on the industry and system at risk, consequences can be severe, with information such as Social Security numbers, other personal identifying information, messages, login credentials and critical infrastructure targeted.

Network security is a means to prevent, detect and halt these attacks and thefts. In addition to the data at stake, there are also legal consequences for businesses and organizations that lack proper network security monitoring.

Network security is constantly evolving to keep up with tech developments. Today, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) play a crucial role in modern network security by cooperatively leveraging data analysis and pattern recognition to improve effectiveness.

A large part of network security is preparing for the future, including how to adapt with advancing technologies. Here are a few tech developments that need protecting:

  • Internet of Things (IoT). A network of physical objects or “things” embedded with sensors, software and connectivity capabilities that enable them to collect and exchange data over the internet. Smart home devices, industrial machines and cars are all examples.
  • 5G. Fifth generation cellular network technology used to support varying connectivity needs. This advancement can be used for everything from telemedicine to traffic signals, augmented reality, virtual reality and self-driving cars.
  • Quantum Computing. A new type of computing that uses the principles of quantum mechanics to perform incredibly complex calculations much faster than traditional computers.

Basic Steps on How to Secure a Network

Consider these simple means of computer network security:

  • Password and access control. Reliance on strong passwords and multi-factor authentication to access devices and accounts.
  • Firewall deployment. Hardware or software used to restrict outside access to your network. This method mostly helps protect against malicious traffic, not programs that are installed (often with a trustworthy facade). Firewalls can be used in conjunction with antivirus software and other security measures.
  • Regular software updates and patch management. Keeping software up to date ensures optimal performance while addressing security issues with the latest patch management strategies.
  • Securing Wi-Fi networks. Change default passwords and use secure encryption methods, such as the latest version of WPA3, a mandatory certification for Wi-Fi CERTIFIED™ devices.
  • Use of VPNs. A virtual private network (VPN), connects your computer to a remote server while encrypting your personal data and masking your IP address. Choosing a reliable VPN provider helps to keep your online presence private and secure.

Types of Network Security

The following are options for more advanced network security:

  • Network Access Control (NAC). A security solution that allows for regulated network access based on predefined rules, allowing only authorized users and devices to connect. This is especially valuable for businesses with employees in remote or hybrid roles.
  • Antivirus and Antimalware. Software that is able to detect, prevent and remove malicious software, such as viruses, worms, Trojans, spyware and ransomware, from computer systems and networks.
  • Behavioral Analytics. The ability of devices that connect to the internet to track normal behavior and activity and be on the lookout for anything that deviates from it.
  • Data Loss Prevention (DLP). One objective is to block access to data and alert system administrators when information is at risk. This is achieved through strategy and a set of tools that monitors data both at rest and in motion. It is known to assist in compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).
  • Secure Sockets Layer/Transport Layer Security (SSL/TLS). SSL and its successor, TLS, are cryptographic protocols that provide secure communication over a network. They encrypt data transmitted between a web browser and a server, ensuring that sensitive information remains confidential and protected from tampering. It is commonly used for securing web communication, such as online transactions and login credentials.

Making a Career in Network Security

Network security has proven to be a lucrative and growing career field. The occupational outlook from 2021-2031 indicates 35% growth; much higher than the average for all occupations at 5%. The median salary for information security analysts in 2021 was $102,600.

These are some of the most popular roles in the field:

Job TitleDescriptionAverage Annual Base Pay
Network Security AnalystResponsible for safeguarding and organization’s network, primarily ensuring that data is available when needed$91,268
Network Security EngineerDesign and build tools that are used to protect networks.$105,938
Chief Information Security OfficerHigh-level administrator tasked with overseeing all of an organization’s technology$180,205
*Salary figures fluctuate based on job specifics

Those who succeed in any facet of computer network security tend to have the following core qualities and skills:

  • Technical. Knowledge of systems, networks and programming
  • Problem-solving. Ability to detect, investigate and resolve security breaches
  • Communication. Ability to communicate security issues to stakeholders
  • Continuous learning. Keeping up with the latest cybersecurity trends and threats
  • Soft skills. Including attention to detail, strong ethics and understanding of legal implications
  • Resilience. Ability to work under pressure

The best way to develop these skills and advance your career in network security is to remain dedicated to education, either through formal programs, mentorship or internship, to name a few.

Education and Certifications for Network Security

There are several degree programs related to network security that have set students up for success. They include:

  • Computer Science. Focuses on the theoretical and practical aspects of computer science and information technology.
  • Cybersecurity. Focuses on protecting computer systems, networks and data from cyber threats, attacks and unauthorized access.
  • Information Systems. Focuses on the study of technology and its applications in managing and utilizing information within organizations.

For working professionals looking to switch sectors or advance their network security career, USD offers a 100% online Master’s in Cyber Security Operations and Leadership and a Master’s in Cyber Security Engineering.

For further guidance in choosing the right cybersecurity degree for you, explore eight important considerations in USD’s comprehensive eBook.

Getting a Degree in Cyber Security: 8 Important Considerations

28-page eBook to walk through 8 important factors when considering a graduate degree program in Cyber Security

8 Important Considerations ebook