What is network security?

Network security is a process of using hardware, software, and as-a-service (aaS) solutions to comprehensively protect edge-to-cloud network infrastructure against cyberattacks, data loss, and information misuse.

Network security explained

Network infrastructure interconnects IT resources like computers, servers, and wired and wireless devices to enable access, storage, and transfer of data. These resources are susceptible to attacks resulting in loss of data, information theft, and disruption of access, which can cause financial, productivity, and reputation loss.

Enterprises are increasingly relying on data and fast connectivity to conduct business; this dependency has made networks more complex and security more critical. Network security has evolved to address today's growing security challenges. It uses a combination of hardware, software, and aaS solutions to reduce security breaches and minimize losses.

Why is network security important?

Networks are significant for overall growth and differentiation strategy for organizations. Per analysts like Deloitte and PWC, “digital presence” (enabled by networks) is the most important touchpoint for organizations to be successful in a post-COVID world.

According to Statista, 328.77 million terabytes of data are created each day and internet users spend six hours and forty minutes online daily, all facilitated by the network. Protecting network data and connection is of immense importance—a security beach can result in losses over billions of dollars. A recent study by the Ponemon Institute titled: Cost of a Data Breach Report 2023, reveals “The global average cost of a data breach in 2023 was USD $4.45 million, a 15% increase over 3 years.”

Network security helps minimize the threat of cybersecurity attacks by proactively monitoring and enforcing edge-to-cloud security policies and enhances network performance by streamlining digital traffic.

What are the benefits of network security?

  • Minimizing network disruptions: Businesses lose an average of $1.30 million due to network disruption, according to IBM’s “Cost of a Data Breach 2023 Report”. A strong network security solution minimizes this loss by continuously detecting and neutralizing malware, denial of service, or other cyberattacks.
  • Minimizing data breaches: Strong network security protects sensitive and business critical data from hackers by authenticating all the devices connecting to a network, authorizing proper access based on role and identity, continuously monitoring the devices, and enforcing automated action when malicious activities are detected.
  • Enhancing network performance: Robust network security optimizes network performance by segmenting traffic flow through the network, enabling proper bandwidth allocation between critical and common applications, and among employees and guests. Ensuring that devices connecting to the network have updated posture checks and meet business security policies goes a long way in making network more efficient.
  • Building trust and brand differentiation: Strong network security secures businesses from many kinds of cyberattacks, data losses or compromises, therefore instilling trust among users and businesses to share their confidential personal or financial information with the brand.

How does network security work?

A variety of hardware and software solutions are deployed on user devices, servers, data centers, and in the cloud to secure networks. These solutions enable security teams to provide proper network authorization and block potential threats, by implementing security policies. Ideally, these products are configured in-line with broader business security policies and work together to enforce strong network security. The diagram below lists the various functions enabled by a network security solution.

Components of network security

What are the components of network security?

Network security includes physical, virtual, agent-based, and agentless solutions such as:

  • Device profiling and visibility: Agent-based and agentless solutions providing visibility into type and behavior of edge devices connecting to the network. These visibility insights act as the first step of securing the network, and help security teams in device discovery, device profiling, and custom fingerprinting. Learn how HPE Aruba Network provides AI-powered device profiling and visibility.
  • Authentication: Agent-based and agentless solutions providing role-based authentication for edge devices trying to connect to the network. A NAC (Network Access Control) solution authenticates user or device identity against a wide variety of identity sources, to support robust network security. Learn more about HPE Aruba Networking ClearPass, an on-premises NAC, and Cloud Auth, a cloud-native NAC.
  • Role-based access security or authorization: Enforcing least privilege access to the edge devices and providing authorization to access only relevant part of the network by segmenting traffic based on identity or role and associated access permissions. HPE Aruba Networking implements this with dynamic segmentation and offers two forms of dynamic segmentation: centralized and distributed based on business requirements.
  • Conditional monitoring: Continuous monitoring requires solutions that provide real-time threat telemetry by constantly monitoring edge devices. Different products work individually and together to track edge-device behavior and flag any potentially malicious activity to Network Access Control (NAC) for further action. Continuous monitoring solutions include:

    i) Unified threat management/IDS/IPS: Intrusion detection provides threat intelligence on malicious activities including command and control, ransomware, phishing, malware, spyware, trojans, and exploit kits. Intrusion prevention detects malicious activities and performs actions like blocking the traffic to protect against malicious activity. Learn how HPE Aruba Networking performs IPS and IDS with Edge Connect SD-Branch.

    ii) Web content classification, IP reputation and geolocation filtering: Content filtering blocks specific websites that are potentially harmful. Web content filtering helps identify websites that propagate malware, spam, spyware and phishing attacks, as well as websites with sensitive content such as adult or gambling content.

    IP Reputation services provide a real-time feed of known malicious IP addresses in 10 categories so IT security administrators can easily identify threats by type.

    Geolocation filtering services associate source/ destination IP addresses with location. It allows organizations to apply policies to permit or drop inbound or outbound communications with certain known malicious countries.

    Learn how HPE Aruba Networking EdgeConnect SD-Branch offers these security capabilities in one solution.

    iii) SIEM or interoperable products: SIEMs help security teams detect, analyze, and respond to security threats before they lead to huge losses. HPE Aruba Networking best-of-breed security solutions enable bidirectional communication with SIEM solutions from different vendors to enforce security based on threat telemetry. Interoperable HPE Aruba Networking security solutions can integration with more than 150 security vendors to establish and enforce robust network security. Learn more about the HPE Aruba Networking 360 Security Exchange program.

    iv) Secure SD-WAN: SD-WAN solutions are used to efficiently connect users and applications. The HPE Aruba Networking EdgeConnect Secure SD-WAN solution has built-in security capabilities and works with other elements within the security ecosystem to enforce strong network and application security from edge to cloud. Learn how HPE Aruba Networking EdgeConnect Secure SD-WAN incorporates security features like Next Generation Firewall, fine-grained segmentation with ClearPass, and intrusion detection and prevention.

  • Enforcement and Response: When malicious activity is suspected of or observed participating in an attack, the NAC (Network Access Control) solution can take either guided or automated attack response to preserve network security. Learn how HPE Aruba Networking ClearPass works to deliver robust network security. HPE Aruba Networking also offers different types of firewalls for a robust network security enforcement.

    i) Firewall: A network firewall is hardware or software that restricts and permits the flow of traffic between networks. Network firewalls help prevent cyberattacks by enforcing policies that block unauthorized traffic from accessing a secure network. Learn how HPE Aruba Networking enforces strong security with Policy Enforcement Firewall.

    ii) Next Gen Firewall: Next Generation Firewalls add advanced capabilities like application-level packet inspection and intrusion prevention to traditional packet-filtering network firewall capabilities. Learn about HPE Aruba Networking Next Generation Firewall.

Why to extend network security to application security?

In today’s world workers access corporate networks from home, café, airports etc. They also consume a lot of SaaS apps that are not hosted in corporate data centers or private clouds. Secure Service Edge (SSE) solutions help reduce potential attack surface and improve application security for SaaS and web services. Learn about HPE Aruba Networking SSE offerings.

Why choose HPE Aruba Networking for network security?

HPE Aruba Networking Edge-to-Cloud Security provides built-in support for Zero Trust and SASE security frameworks that increases protection while simplifying operations. The built-in security is delivered via HPE Aruba Networking Central NetConductor.

Central NetConductor comprises of: Client Insights to deliver AI-powered device visibility and profiling; Cloud Auth to deliver cloud-based authentication; Policy Manager and CX Switches and Gateways for cloud-based NAC and in-line policies distribution, monitoring and enforcement.

HPE Aruba Networking also offers enterprise grade network access control with ClearPass, which is a vendor neutral solution, highly interoperable, and is certified by Marsh Cyber Catalyst. ClearPass Policy Manager (CPPM) offers profiling for device visibility, support a wide range of authentication and authorization protocols, integrates with Policy Enforcement Firewall for dynamic segmentation, is compatible with a large ecosystem of 3rd party vendors for conditional monitoring, and provides real-time security enforcement and response based on enterprise security protocols.

In addition, HPE Aruba Networking EdgeConnect SD-WAN is the industry’s first SD-WAN to earn the ICSA Labs Secure SD-WAN certification. EdgeConnect earned the certification by demonstrating performance across a number of certification requirements, including advanced SD-WAN features, native support for advanced security functions, encryption of sensitive data, policy enforcement, and security events logging.

Our marketing leading security solutions are recognized with numerous cybersecurity designations and awards, including:

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