Network Security Essentials

This chapter covers the following subjects:

• Defining Network Security

• Balancing Business Needs with Network Security Requirements

• Network Security Policies

• Network Security as a Process

• Network Security as a Legal Issue

Many believe that network security is actually two words that are mutually exclusive and that the only way to secure a computer is to segregate it completely. It is true that by restricting all physical and logical access to a computer system you can ensure complete security. Chances are that in most cases, complete security of a computer system by this method will render the "secure system" completely useless. Networking involves the sharing of assets and information and inherently involves a certain amount of risk. Computer networking is a complex and diverse undertaking, and securing computer networks adds several layers of complexity. Unlike Newton's third law of motion ("For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction"), with computers and computer networks, for every action there might be no reaction at all, or there might be an unimaginable number of reactions that are neither equal nor opposite the action. Maintaining even a small computer network sometimes requires a delicate balancing act to ensure that all components (hardware, software, and so on) work and play well together, and that no single system or group of systems adversely affects the operations of the entire network. This "balancing act" only increases in difficulty as networks become bigger and more complex. Implementing security measures on a network can help ensure that systems perform as designed and, in many cases, provide the ability to logically separate systems that cause problems on the network until those systems can be dealt with. Of course, this is just an added benefit of network security. First and foremost, security is implemented to protect. Protect what? That is a good question ... and the answer is probably different on every network. In this "information age," the commodity of our time is information in many forms. This "data" is considered property by most organizations and can be extremely valuable, or to a certain extent the release of such information can be costly. For this reason, network security has become a priority within most organizations.

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