By: Chris Voll on March 1st, 2018


Balance Network Performance and Network Security with These Best Practices

Network Security

Balance Network Performance and Network Security.jpgCybersecurity is a critical part of every enterprise’s success, but if executed poorly, it can compromise network performance.

The average North American enterprise receives anywhere from 10,000 to 150,000 alerts from its cybersecurity systems every day. Of course, not every alert corresponds to a legitimate threat, but that creates its own kind of problem — according to the Ponemon Institute’s recent report, The Cost of Malware Containment, the average enterprise spends roughly $1.3 million annually on investigating false positive alerts. That’s why nearly a third of enterprise network security professionals admit that they frequently ignore cybersecurity alerts.

Alert systems that produce this many false positives not only make cybersecurity professionals’ lives more difficult, but they also hamper network performance by introducing overbroad restrictions to enterprise network activity. Striking the proper balance between security and performance is admittedly difficult, but adopting the following best practices represents a solid first step toward building an enterprise network that is as powerful as it is secure.


Accept That Cybersecurity is an Endless Endeavor

The most important thing an enterprise IT team can do to ensure that its networks remain secure is accept that cybersecurity is not a “set it and forget it” endeavor. Far too often, an enterprise’s upper management and IT team alike will treat cybersecurity as a process — invest, deploy, test — that need only be completed once. This could not be further from the truth.

Cybersecurity is a dynamic task that needs to be tackled on a 24/7 basis. Third-party patches for plugins and programs like Java and the Adobe suite must be applied, additional layers of security must be added in response to emerging threats, and user behavior must be monitored and managed. All of this has to be done on a rolling basis, or else an enterprise will find itself outpaced by today’s remarkably agile cybercrime syndicates.


Take a Proactive Approach to Securing New Technologies

Enterprises must not only perform daily cybersecurity tasks like patching and user monitoring, but must proactively tackle future cybersecurity challenges, as well. For instance, research indicates that there will be as many as 50 billion Internet of Things (IoT) devices in use as soon as 2020 — many of which will be deployed in office settings — yet only 37% of enterprises currently have well-established IoT security protocols in place.

This lack of preparation is tremendously concerning, as IoT devices present a host of serious cybersecurity concerns — the likes of which enterprises have never faced. Not only do most IoT devices run simplified operating systems like TinyOS, Nano-RK, or Mantis, but they’re also not designed with patching and updating in mind, which makes it incredibly difficult to reliably secure their internal firmware. If enterprises wait until this blossoms into a major problem, their only course of action will be to impose extreme “catch-all” cybersecurity measures that will both undercut the effectiveness of IoT devices and frustrate network users.


Accommodate On-the-Ground Realities

In many enterprises, cybersecurity professionals get a lot of flack for being the people who always say, “No!”

There are, of course, plenty of good reasons why an IT team will blacklist a certain piece of software or require sensitive passwords to be changed every few months. But to the average employee, such regulations often feel oppressive (and often lead to potentially harmful shadow IT).

To mitigate this tension, enterprises should make an effort to desilo their cybersecurity teams and advocate for strategic trade-offs between business and security interests. It’s important to recognize that ordinary employees are unlikely to adhere to excessively strict cybersecurity protocols, well-advised or not.

For instance, an IT team might decide that twenty-character passwords comprised of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and non-alphanumeric characters constitute the best defense against hackers. In practice, however, many employees will struggle to remember these and resort to recording them in an insecure document labeled, “Passwords,” or worse, writing them on a sticky note that they affix to their computer monitor. In other words, by failing to make concessions to the “average employee” and demanding ultra-strict security protocols, an IT team can actually make their network less secure.


Choose the Right Networking Partner

Finally, enterprise IT teams should admit what they don’t know and take the appropriate steps to fill in their knowledge gaps. Modern networks almost always include systems, applications, users, and devices that are unknown or unaccounted for, and therefore represent a huge cybersecurity blindspot. In order to shine a light on these “hidden” threats, an enterprise should consider undergoing a comprehensive network assessment conducted by a trusted partner like Turn-key Technologies (TTI).

At TTI, our twenty-plus years of experience and numerous industry certifications let us diagnose network issues and add innovative enhancements to existing network deployments that guarantee both performance and security. There is always going to be a trade-off between network performance and network security, but with the experts at TTI in your corner, you can rest assured that your company’s networks strike just the right balance.