5 Tips to Improve Network Security Monitoring

network security monitoring

Optimizing network security monitoring requires pursuing continuous improvement. Even when people have monitoring tools or processes, it’s always advisable to identify weak spots and look for ways to reduce or eliminate them. Here are five options to consider.

1. Build a Digital Twin

A digital twin is an exact digital replica of a physical asset that accurately mimics the behavior and functions of the original asset. It can be thought of as a means of digitally recreating a business-critical workflow, network, or even a tangible asset, like an aircraft engine. Many organizations create digital twins for products, although it’s becoming more commonplace for properties, too.

As such, digital twins facilitate simulations in a controlled test environment where several scenarios are run to predict how the product will perform in real life. Insights gathered here are used to inform new product development and change releases, preventing costly failures and improving performance.

Organizations are also exploring digital twins for network security monitoring purposes. Such efforts are in the early stages, but that could change soon. A company called Forward Networks focuses on using digital twins for enterprise network maintenance, security and oversight. It recently raised $50 million in a funding round, indicating people are interested in the business’s offerings.

Many of the company’s current clients use its digital twin products to improve reliability. However, they can also see details about traffic entering or leaving the network. That’s one of the reasons why enhanced security is a major selling point.

Individuals cannot build detailed network digital twins in a matter of hours. However, they can use them for the long term, creating various simulations that relate to current or suspected future scenarios.

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2. Review and Enhance Network Oversight Practices

Improved network security monitoring also becomes possible when people assess how they currently supervise what happens on networks. This evaluation presents an opportunity to improve existing infrastructure to drive best practices.

For instance, in incident event management, they can assess whether their current incident event notification systems are designed to be agile and responsive. One option is to invest in an initial incident event management tool, like OnPage, to become aware of security threats more efficiently. OnPage integrates with an organization’s existing tech stack and automates the process of threat delivery to the right on-call staff. The tool combines reliable event notification, automation, on-call management, and escalation workflows to ensure that threats are immediately acknowledged and contained.

IT alert management tools are particularly useful for companies struggling with cybersecurity skills shortages because they enable companies to accomplish more with fewer resources. That being said, numerous issues have contributed to the current situation. A major reason being the amount of hoops and significant ongoing learning one has to go through just to gain the initial skills in cybersecurity.

Artificial intelligence (AI) tools can be used to identify potential network issues even before they happen. With the help of AI, incoming threats or network issues can be categorized, allowing IT teams to prioritize their responses and prevent costly events. By proactively using AI to manage network security, organizations can prevent costly outages and improve uptime.

3. Understand the Increased Risks of Remote Working

The aftermath of the 2020 pandemic continues to reshape our workplaces and how we collaborate with our colleagues. A hybrid work model has emerged out as a win-win, mutually beneficial model for companies and employees. Leaders have recognized that employees place a high value on the ability to work from home at least some of the time, providing them with increased flexibility and potentially enhancing their morale and loyalty to the company.

Nonetheless, as work transcends beyond the four walls of an office, organizations face a greater risk of cybersecurity breaches due to blurred boundaries and an expanded attack surface. This underscores the need for effective risk management to enhance cybersecurity resilience.

One study found 43% of employees caused cybersecurity incidents while working from home. Additionally, since many remote workers access company resources from unmonitored networks, this broadens the attack surface for cybercriminals to target.

People may become more careless or make wrong assumptions while working from home. Workers no longer subjected to oversight at a physical location may do things against their companies’ network security policies, reasoning that their bosses likely won’t find out.

However, establishing clear rules and guidelines for remote employees can be an effective measure in reducing security risks. In addition, creating home-based working standards is another strategy that organizations can implement to protect their networks. For instance, a company leader may decide to allow remote work only for those employees whose computers have the latest operating systems and antivirus software installed.

4. Deploy an Identity Management Solution

Decision-makers should investigate how people currently access files on a company’s network. They may be surprised to learn it’s far less controlled than expected.

One 2021 study of manufacturing data found employees can access an average of 6 million files as soon as they start working for a company. Another takeaway was that 40% of organizations allow every worker to access at least 1,000 sensitive files.

Such strategies can wreak havoc on network security efforts. When all employees can see so many files, it becomes more likely that things will go wrong. Unchecked access control poses challenges in determining the source of an unwanted situation.

A good change to make is to limit network or file access based on someone’s role, a project they’re working on or some other reasonable characteristic. However, network monitoring must account for specific situations, such as if the access occurs while someone’s traveling or using a different device than usual.

It’s also important to terminate someone’s access when their relationship with the company ends. Otherwise, they could keep accessing confidential information for years. The risks become even more pertinent if the individual in question is a disgruntled employee who has left on bad terms and may seek retaliation.

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5. Improve Oversight of Employee Devices and Uses

A 2021 study found 82% of organizations allow workers to use personal devices to some extent. However, respondents also expressed concerns that this would raise the risk of data leakage or loss, employees downloading unsafe apps or content, and people having unauthorized access to company systems or information.

Moreover, the increase in remote work could exacerbate these problems. Individuals responsible for network security monitoring must ensure their oversight extends to people’s personal devices without infringing on individuals’ personal data.

A good starting point is to use tools that show how and why people engage with certain devices. Another option is to require IT team members to check all personal items people use for work. They can verify there are no glaring security risks or fix anything that poses a threat.

Committing to Improve Is the First Step

Implementing these five strategies can bring about significant enhancements to network monitoring and security. Nonetheless, individuals should prioritize specific areas for improvement and secure the necessary resources to implement these changes. Scaling up these efforts later become easier as needs dictate.

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