All networks remain susceptible to attacks from hackers and other intruders who are out to steal confidential information, use vulnerable networks as platforms to launch their nefarious activities such as phishing or Distributed Denial of Service attacks on other networks and more.
The best way to prevent being victims of hackers and other cyberspace rogues is preemption. Installing network security software that monitors the network and/or prevent hackers from gaining unlawful entry is a major step in this direction.
Anti Virus Software
Anti-virus software constitutes the basic network security software. Anti-virus software detect, prevent, and remove malware such as viruses, worms, Trojan horses, spyware, and adware, by employing methods such as signature scanning or searching for known patterns of data within malicious executable code.
The effectiveness of anti-virus software in preventing malicious attacks is however limited.
Firewalls, installed in individual computers that constitute a part of the network or at routers either permit or deny network transmissions based upon the fed set of rules.
Firewalls have evolved from the first generation packet filers, second-generation application layer filters, and third generation stateful firewalls to incorporate deep packet inspection functionality that remains compatible with Intrusion-prevention systems (IPS) and facilitates integrated internet security systems.
Network Vulnerability Scanners
Network vulnerability scanning software monitor the network on a real time basis to identify weak spots or vulnerabilities that hackers and other intruders can exploit to make an unauthorized entry.
Every new update to the system and server software, while delivering upgrades or better functionality, also brings in new vulnerabilities. Resolving such vulnerabilities requires downloading patches that software vendors release later, but hackers can use the time between installation of the software and the patch becoming available to make their attack.
Network scanners scour networks for potential vulnerabilities, identify web applications that remain vulnerable to potential attacks, and scan all open ports to identify weak or unprotected ports that attackers could use as illicit entry points. One important point to note is that network scanners, by its very definition, only scan the system and make system administrators aware of the vulnerabilities, and do not fix the vulnerability.
Intrusion Detection and Prevention System (IDPS)
Intrusion Detection and Prevention systems (IDPS), also known as Intrusion Prevention Systems (IPS) monitor the network system to identify and log malicious activity, and depending on the scope of the system may either report the activity for system administrators to take further action block, or attempt to block or stop the unauthorized activity.
IPS identifies malicious activity by checking whether network traffic matches valid signatures, whether the network traffic show unusual or abnormal patterns and whether network traffic shows deviations from protocol states.
Methods adopted by IPS to block or stop unauthorized activities include dropping malicious packets, resetting the connection, blocking the traffic from the IP, and more.
IPS also helps in boosting network efficiency by correcting Cyclic Redundancy Check (CRC) errors, defragmenting packet streams, preventing TCP sequencing issues, and cleaning up unwanted transport and network layer options.
Installing state of the art network security software for a foolproof internet security system is an indispensable requirement to counter the challenges posed by hackers and other intruders.