What’s really the best way to protect your network? The thing is, it depends on what you want to protect and how you use your systems. There are different solutions you can use, for example data diodes, security gateways or firewalls. But what is really the difference between the solutions? In this blog post, we explain the features of three solutions that can protect your network, so you can better understand which might be best for you!
When and why do you need network security?
If you are working with sensitive information, network security is highly necessary. Network segmentation reduces the risk and limits the damage of a cyberattack. Without it, there is a risk that sensitive information can leak or be manipulated, and that malware and ransomware will spread uncontrollably and rapidly. Attackers do not normally take the direct path to the target asset, such as corporate intellectual property or a power generation company’s SCADA system. Instead, they sneak through weak points far in the architecture, via email or customer service, to achieve their goal. State-funded attackers are also patient, willing to work long-term by doing everything in small steps, and unfortunately are often one step ahead. The harsh reality is that industrial control systems may have been attacked without anyone noticing.
However, it is neither practical nor economically justifiable to protect all information equally. To protect critical information, strict network segmentation must be enforced with a combination of physical and logical separation.
Where do you need physical separation? Critical information requires physical separation. Simply put, an isolated island is created with no connection to the outside world. This minimizes the risk zone – the attacker has to sit in front of the computer containing the critical information. Physical separation is extremely effective, but to be practical in today’s world, controlled exchange of information must be possible without compromising isolation. So where is the logical separation appropriate? Anywhere else but when protecting critical information. Office networks must use logical separation. Different parts of the business create their own areas – finance, marketing, sales, customer service, operational technology, etc. – each with different security requirements, such as identification and access management (IAM). As a colleague, you can only access what you need to do your job, i.e. the relevant documents, not the entire folder structure. Logical separation functions like the interior walls of a fort, making it difficult for attackers to progress through systems and gain access to the entire computing environment.
What is a data diode?
A data diode is a cybersecurity solution that provides one-way information exchange. This high-assurance hardware device maintains both network integrity by preventing intrusion, as well as network privacy by protecting the most security-sensitive information.
Data diodes are the safe way to protect sensitive systems and confidential data. Data diodes are small hardware devices, also known as “one-way security gateways”, that sit between two networks. Working like a check valve, the function of a data diode is to allow all data to pass in the forward direction, while blocking all data in the reverse direction. And since it is not software, it cannot be directly attacked by malicious code, which results in high assurance.
Learn more about data diodes and how they work!
What is a security gateway?
A security gateway is a device that controls the exchange of information that takes place between different security domains.
If you have sensitive or even classified information, you may need a solution that provides secure, filtered two-way communication. In this case, you need to ensure secure two-way communication and ensure that nothing malicious enters your sensitive networks, and that sensitive information and data does not leak to a less sensitive and less protected network.
The goal is to enforce strict information-level control during information transfers and to mitigate cybersecurity threats such as manipulation, data leakage and intrusion. A security gateway only forwards received information when it complies with its policy which derives from your organization’s information security policy. The policy implemented in the security gateway defines the accepted structures, formats, types, values and even digital signatures. When a message is sent from one security domain to another through a security gateway, the information in the message is scanned according to the configured policy. The approved portions of the received message are placed into a new message that is sent to the intended recipient in the other domain. This way you know that only authorized information crosses this boundary.
Advenica’s solution is ZoneGuard, find out more here!
What is a firewall?
A firewall protects your network by allowing only certain traffic to enter or leave. It monitors and filters traffic based on rule configurations.
With a firewall, it is difficult to know exactly what information is exported or imported into the system. A firewall configuration often becomes complex, increasing the risk of misconfiguration. Firewalls also fail to separate administration and data flow in a way that protects insider information. Organizations that hold sensitive information and operate in critical infrastructure, the public sector or the defense industry, need their networks to maintain a higher level of security. That’s why more solutions than a firewall are often needed.
How can you protect your network?
So what’s the best way to protect your network? There is no straight answer – the type of solution you need depends on the type of operations you perform and the type of information you need to protect.
Are you interested in the type of solutions we can offer? Take a look at our website!
Learn more about our data diodes and our ZoneGuard!
Do you have any questions? Do not hesitate to Contact us!