Today’s computer networks are highly sophisticated, but they are still vulnerable to intrusions, disruptions, malware, and other kinds of attacks. These attacks can interrupt business operations, cost lots of money to fix, steal sensitive information, and embarrass your brand. Network security software can help businesses protect their data and critical business processes by safeguarding their IT networks against potential incidents.
This buyers guide explains the features and benefits of network security software to help you find the best solution for your business.
Here’s what we’ll cover:
What is network security software?
Network security software is a tool that monitors network traffic and alerts network administrators about risks and abnormal events. This allows IT teams to respond to threats faster and with more information about the nature of an attack.
Network security software receives routine updates to its threat database to help the software detect and thwart newer attacks.
Common features of network security software
Network security software usually includes several core features. These include the following:
|Vulnerability scanning||Receive alerts about potential security weaknesses across your computer network. Classify vulnerabilities and prioritize action items.|
|Activity monitoring||Receive alerts about abnormal network activity that may indicate an attempted intrusion, a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack, or another security threat.|
|Access control||Assign user roles to employees to limit their network permissions so no one has access to more network authority than their job requires. Prevent personal devices from accessing the network.|
|Threat response||Scan and analyze network traffic to quickly identify malicious activity and alert the necessary parties about potential security incidents.|
|Reporting and analytics||Record, view, and track network activity and security metrics in real time.|
|Antivirus updates||Receive periodic network patches to address newly discovered security vulnerabilities and exploits.|
|VPN||Establish encrypted virtual private networks (VPNs) to secure data, protect personal information, access information remotely, and facilitate safe file sharing between groups.|
What type of buyer are you?
Every organization with a computer network needs network security software. Most solutions offer similar features to deal with typical cyberattacks. However, some organizations benefit from more robust features in a particular area.
Financial institutions: Theft is the biggest threat facing financial institutions. Hackers impersonate customers to access their financial accounts online. Denying person-in-the-middle attacks, for instance, prevents banks and other institutions from allowing outsiders to intercept or modify two-way communications. These buyers should look for solutions that offer 256-bit advanced encryption standard (AES).
Technology companies: Recent headlines have revealed the massive rise in economic espionage by state actors. Foreign governments steal new technologies for intelligence gathering and economic advantages. Spear phishing is a common technique in which a hacker pretends to be someone legitimate to trick a key employee into revealing their network access credentials. To address this threat, technology companies should look for network security solutions that flag suspicious communications.
Retail: Stores, especially online retailers, collect lots of data about their customers. Their networks store names, addresses, credit card details, and other personally identifiable information (PII). Hackers who can steal this PII can make lots of money by selling it. Retailers can prevent these embarrassing, high-profile breeches by looking for solutions designed to safeguard PII.
Benefits of network security software
Network security software offers the following benefits:
- Protect against malicious attacks: Network security systems use authentication, encryption, and system monitoring to protect organizations from malware, spyware, viruses, trojans, worms, ransomware, phishing exploits, and a variety of other threats.
- Monitor network performance: Network security software keeps networks operating at peak efficiency. Some of the most common attacks try to stall company networks to stop business operations. Network security solutions monitor network performance and alert administrators about abnormalities. This helps businesses operate without network interruptions, which makes them more productive.
- Protect against many threat sources at once: Most hackers are motivated by money. For instance, ransomware may encrypt network data until a company pays for a decryption key. Other hackers crave the prestige of accessing data from enterprises they perceive as invulnerable. Hackers may also have a political motivation to attack organizations they don’t like. While corporate espionage tries to learn competitors’ trade secrets, foreign governments often steal proprietary information and personnel data. Network security software addresses all these threats.
- Safeguard remote teams: VPNs protect encrypted data sent between networks and employees who are working from home or traveling.
Key considerations of purchasing network security software
- Keep future growth in mind: Network infrastructure grows exponentially as organizations expand. Look for network security software that allows you to scale your network by adding more nodes and devices without paying significantly more for the expansion.
- Don’t skimp on network security: Computer networks may encounter thousands of attacks per day and just one successful attempt could pause your business operations, expose your trade secrets, embarrass your brand, or steal your customers’ data. Cheaper solutions may save money in the short run, but they provide less protection and less frequent virus updates than enterprise-class solutions.
Market trend to understand
The network security software market is likely to grow. The network computing industry continues to uncover new and previously unknown “zero-day” threats that need to be addressed. The rise of ransomware and other lucrative computing crimes has turned hacking into a massive global enterprise. As a result, network security solutions have grown in number and sophistication. This upward trend is expected to continue well into this decade. Market analysts predict that the industry could be worth USD 22.8 billion by 2024—up from USD 13.5 billion in 2019. The expansion of network security software means there will be more solutions to choose from and competition over new features. This is good for customers because competition drives innovation while keeping costs lower.