Best Practices to Secure Your Network Infrastructure By Arun Pathak, VP, NTT Ltd.

Networks today run a high risk of exposure and security breaches, thanks to increased connectivity with external business partners, suppliers and customers. The lack of adequate skills and incident response mechanisms can expose an unprepared organization to potential damages and unplanned costs. Additionally, the myriad of interconnected technologies, systems and environments has made it difficult to manage security controls and devices to ensure the right level of protection. An increase in digital transformation initiatives has contributed in a big way to the surge in attacks. The 2022 NTT Security Holdings Global Threat Intelligence Report, highlights that NTT observed a 30% increase in hostile activity targeting clients, led by attacks against applications and network infrastructure, along with denial of service and brute-force attacks.

As the network plays the most important part in the digital transformation of an enterprise, any compromise of the network can hence make any business extremely vulnerable. While every organization makes the necessary investments in firewalls and other important systems such as IPS, SIEM and DLP, to ensure basic protection and security of data. All access must be authenticated by implementing secure access policies and limiting administrative privileges.

Some additional best practices to secure the network infrastructure include:

  1. Limit and eliminate network security exposure

The typical approach to network security involves installing a hardware appliance for firewall protection and using virtual private network (VPN) software to govern remote access. Beyond this, wherever possible, organizations must look at segmenting their networks. Network segmentation is a proven way to protect networks by dividing a large network into smaller networks with limited or no connectivity between them. This prevents the lateral movement of hackers and reduces the attack surface by limiting the attack to a smaller network, thereby preventing its spread.

  1. Ensure greater protection with SD-WAN solutions

Many businesses are swapping out expensive MPLS in favor of more cost-effective, faster, and easier-to-deploy SD-WAN solutions. Using SD-WANs, policies, and templates can be set accordingly to classify different rules of access according to the business roles. As SD-WANs provide complete visibility into traffic sources, SD-WANs can be used for black listing and white listing. SD-WANs also have the capability to recognize the IP addresses of leading SaaS providers to apply required business policies. Further, SD-WANs can protect data with an integrated firewall between source and destination, ensuring multi-layered security and end-to-end encryption. SD-WAN solutions as managed services are being preferred by many clients for their ease of operations.

  1. Leverage the power of Zero Trust Network Access

The traditional on-premise perimeter has not disappeared, but the software-defined perimeter has grown exponentially, as most applications are moving to the cloud. Managing networks and security at scale and effectively has become a significant operational overhead with cloud teams commonly administering their own network access. Zero-trust network access (ZTNA) is a great solution that allows employees to work from anywhere using the internet. It provides continuous verification and access is monitored for any unusual activity and change. It provides a scalable, cheaper, faster-to-deploy and easier-to-operate solution than VPNs, and avoids appliance-based network bottlenecks.

  1. Use the expertise of a managed services provider

If IT security professionals spend most of their time addressing basic and reactive day-to-day activities, they can find it difficult to also monitor, review and analyze logs 24×7, filter noise in order to identify real threats, change and maintain policies in a timely manner, and ensure that their network security infrastructure is up to date. A Managed Security Services Provider (MSSP) and Managed Datacenter and Campus Network service provider can act as an extension of your IT team and provide services like 24/7 Network availability and performance monitoring, Proactive network health analysis using AI/ML, threat hunting and detection, discovering hard-to-find threats and disrupt complex and sophisticated cyberattacks, while improving cyber-resilience. A managed Campus Network empowers IT operations with greater agility, an agile business needs an agile network operated to become a platform for innovation, removing complexity, simplifying operations, and embracing automation to provide a dynamic and responsive software-defined infrastructure.

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