As companies continue to send vital information on the internet that can affect the outcome of governments, markets, and industries alike, it’s more important than ever to have a solid security strategy in place. The marketplace has reflected this need over the last ten years, with a growing number of network security monitoring tools being developed that offer threat and intrusion detection. Companies like Dell introduced their SecureWorks software, and products like FireEye and Palo Alto also gained traction as new ways to protect your network from intrusion. Vendors like Cisco and Fortinet even went as far as building intrusion prevention software modules into their hardware to support the ever-increasing need for security.
Unfortunately, these are all enterprise-level security solutions that only customers with the right budget can afford. What about small-to-medium sized businesses (SMBs) that still need a way to identify potential security threats? Hackers are increasingly targeting smaller businesses, instinctively knowing that those companies will be the least equipped to handle attacks. What’s more, maintaining a secure network isn’t purely a business concern anymore. Hackers can also use a home network as a vehicle to access larger networks, stealing critical information from anyone at any time.
Because SMBs might not have the budget to support enterprise security solutions, they need to assess what other network security monitoring tools exist in the marketplace. Can network monitoring software, for example, identify security threats at a lower cost? Before we can understand whether or not network monitoring tools are up to the task, we first need to understand the reality of today’s increasingly frequent security breaches.
Understanding Security Breaches
Hackers make it their job to continuously figure out different ways to access networks and steal data. In today’s world, we use web servers to enter important, sensitive information all the time. If these servers are not secured properly, a hacker can easily access them. We’ve recently seen a huge rise in cyber-attacks on various institutions in the United States. Because of this, companies that were once nonchalant about securing their infrastructure are now going to great lengths to increase their network security.
According to Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, there have been numerous hacks of different size and scope since 2005. One such attack happened to Lokai Holdings LLC, located in New York, between July and October of 2014. Hackers gained access to their web servers and were able to steal customers’ private information. A similar attack happened to Public Architecture's theonepercent.org, a San Francisco-based organization that was hacked through their security protocols and firewalls. The company lost an incredible amount of important data. And who can forget the 2014 hack on Sony that resulted in the loss of private employee information, such as Social Security numbers and salaries? With the amount of personal data being passed around the internet, the truth is that security breaches are not only more common than ever, but also more devastating.
Network Management vs. Network Monitoring
To properly secure its infrastructure, an organization must implement either network management or network monitoring software. Network management and network monitoring are two terms that are frequently discussed but often used incorrectly. While the two can often go hand-in-hand, there are a few key technical differences between them. The ISO clarifies that network management must include FCAPS (fault management, configuration management, accounting management, performance management, and security management). The problem for SMBs is that many network management tools, like HP OpenView and IBM Tivoli, are vendor-specific—not to mention costly. When cost and flexibility are factors, companies should instead consider utilizing network security monitoring tools to identify security threats on their networks.
A high-quality monitoring software adds a more detailed view of performance to network management and can be used in conjuncture with or in place of a network management software. What’s more, top-of-the-line network security monitoring tools can be vendor agnostic, meaning they are able to find and monitor any device. For businesses that are looking for a cost-effective solution that’s still powerful enough to provide in-depth analytics, network monitoring software can be the best choice.
How Network Security Monitoring Tools Identify Threats
IT administrators are historically known to be risk averse. The old adage "no one ever got fired for choosing IBM" is an example of this approach. Proactive monitoring of your network provides the details needed to fix performance problems in network devices, services, applications, connections, and traffic.
Solid network security monitoring tools can monitor bandwidth traffic on specific devices, as well as monitor traffic to see who, when, and where that network traffic is coming from to identify potential risks. Intermapper is a powerful and affordable network monitoring software that does just that. Its lean and efficient monitoring engine constantly polls all your devices to capture real-time information. Plus, Intermapper is vendor-agnostic, allowing it to find and monitor any device in your network.
Intermapper’s Device Status Window also shows you the history of each device’s activity, giving you insight into suspicious activity. Intermapper’s alerting function notifies you of potential issues as soon as they arise, giving you the peace of mind that you’re always aware of the current state of your network. By having this information at your fingertips, you’re able to gain in-depth visibility into the health of your network and identify if unauthorized users are connecting to your devices.
Intermapper also has its own NetFlow analyzer add-on that can be used to collect even more in-depth network traffic data. You can set up your network gateway or Layer 3 devices as an exporter to send the network traffic to Intermapper Flows. Since most hackers attempt to access your network by attacking your internet routers and firewalls, Intermapper Flows allows you to capture the inbound and outbound traffic on those routers or firewalls to see where that traffic is coming and going. Using Intermapper Flows can help you detect malicious network traffic or identify where possible holes in your network might be. Users can rest easy, knowing where their vulnerabilities are before a hacker can take advantage of them.
Having a real-time network monitoring solution in place to provide you with in-depth visibility and the ability to capture data at all corners of your network can help identify security threats before they occur. Powerful network security monitoring tools like Intermapper can help you mitigate potential security risks with substantial flexibility at a much lower price point.