Previously, on How to prevent threats in computer network system i made mention of Firewalls, Anti-Virus And ports as a countermeasures of threat in network system, but that is not all about Countermeasures of threat in computer network system. There is also network security software and network security hardware, which will be explained in this post.
- Network Security Software
On the software side of the security issue are several important applications. As i mentioned in my previous post, firewalls come in both hardware and software varieties. If you don’t have a hardware firewall, you can use a firewall application to help protect your network. You can even use both a hardware and software version if you like. There are several firewall programs available on the market. Some of them are free. Many are part of a larger software package that includes other important applications. Almost as important as a firewall is anti-virus software. While you may be able to avoid most computer viruses, Trojans and other forms of malware through careful Web surfing habits, the truth is sometimes things slip through. All it takes is one mistake and you’ll end up with an infected computer. A robust anti-virus program can help keep your computer safe. Anti-virus software isolates and neutralizes malware. Most anti-virus software searches for viruses by comparing the applications on your computer against a huge database of malware. If something matches, the software alerts the user and attempts to neutralize the program. For anti-virus software to remain effective, it’s important that you keep it up to date. Many programs have an auto-update feature that will download new virus definitions on a weekly basis. Other useful applications to look into are anti-spyware or anti-adware programs. Like anti-virus software, these programs search your computer for applications that can affect your network’s security. Spyware and adware can track your online activities and send information to another computer. Many of these programs have active scan modes that will help you keep an eye on your computer in real time. Others may require you to set up a scanning schedule or run a scan manually. It’s a good idea to run scans on a regular basis — at least once a week.
- Network Security Hardware
Managing passwords can be a pain, but it’s an important part of network security. You should pick passwords that are hard to guess. A string of letters, numbers and other characters is best. Don’t pick names, dates or common words as passwords. And resist the temptation to use the same password for all of your hardware and services. When we talk about home networks, we generally mean a system composed of at least two devices connected to each other. Usually, these devices also connect to the Internet. Technically, if you have only one device connected to the Internet, it’s part of a larger network. But you wouldn’t have a network of your own. Computers running on the Windows operating system are more at risk of security invasions than Mac computers. That’s to be expected — the Windows operating system dominates the computer market. That means the Windows platform is a big target for people who want to exploit computers — they’ve got a much larger target and potential payoff. Other devices that can comprise a home network include routers, firewalls, cable or DSL modems, printers, video game consoles, smartphones and voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) phones. Depending upon the protocols you use, you may have even more devices linked to your network. For example, Bluetooth gadgets can sync with each other when they come within range of the network. From a security standpoint, the pieces of hardware that will help provide security are firewalls and routers. Firewalls come in two varieties: hardware and software. You can purchase a physical firewall device or run a firewall application. Many routers have firewall software built into them. Firewalls act like filters. They help you monitor data traffic between your network and the Internet. If you detect unusual traffic, that’s a potential sign that someone has compromised your home network’s security. Most firewalls have several security settings to choose from. The most restrictive settings are generally the safest, but they also limit your options. Most firewalls will allow you to create a list of Web addresses that are off limits.
A well designed and configured firewall is like having a single point of entry into your building with a security guard at the door allowing only authorized personnel into the building. The firewall will block or allow traffic into your network or computer based on the rules you give it.
Obviously, if you have a twenty foot high brick wall with barbed wire on the top and armed guards monitoring the gate, but there are holes in the wall and tunnels under the wall you won’t be very secure. The simplest way to ensure your firewall is secure is to block everything by default and only authorize the traffic you want to allow in.
There are various techniques of ways of accomplishing this goal. Each has its pros and cons. One may be superior at effectively blocking traffic, but at the expense of impacting the speed and performance of the network or the system it is running on.
The first primary distinction between types of firewalls is hardware vs. software. The naming is misleading because a “hardware” firewall is just a software firewall running on a dedicated piece of hardware or specialized device. At its core, a hardware firewall is still running some sort of operating system on which a software firewall is blocking and authorizing network traffic.
That said, “hardware” firewalls often provide better protection. For starters, if a vulnerability is found for that type of firewall hopefully an attacker exploiting it would only gain access to the firewall device itself. If you are running a firewall application on a domain controller or a web server and the firewall gets compromised the attacker also gains immediate entry to these important systems.
Another consideration is the impart to system performance. Depending on the amount of network traffic coming into your system it can use a great deal of processing power and system resources to assess the various packets and either block or allow them. By running a firewall on a system that has other purposes the resources will have to be shared and the application, the firewall or both will suffer from a lack of resources.
Many cable or DSL routers designed for home use come with a limited built-in firewall. These firewalls tend to be basic packet-filtering devices that simply allow or deny traffic on particular ports depending on how you configure it.
For this reason it is advisable to use personal firewall software on the computer as well. The router firewall will block most “normal” incoming connections. Should some traffic get past the firewall or if your system gets infected with a worm or Trojan horse and tries to interact with the system and establish outbound connections your software firewall will detect this activity and alert you.
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