Data Network Security: Look How Far We’ve Come, and Still Have to Go

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In October 1969, the  – a “node-to-node” communication – was delivered from one computer to another. Over 50 years later, networks have come a long way, evolving to support the Internet we know today.

Modern networks have the power to bring people, enterprises, and nations together. But if they’re breached or compromised, the results can be grave.

Meanwhile, cybercrime continues unabated. Hardly a week passes without a high-profile attack making news headlines. Billions of dollars are lost or stolen every year.

Rather than putting the brakes on cybercrime, the pandemic only served to fuel it. Many attacks were directly related to lockdown-induced work-from-home arrangements and hybrid workplaces. As businesses accelerated the use of client portals and mobile and web applications, their risk of attack and network compromise increased.

The dire side-effects of such incidents played out in incalculable damage to brands and the erosion of public trust, not to mention financial loss. IBM’s 2021 Cost of a Data Breach Report recently found that the average total cost of a data breach is $4.24 million and moving in an upward trend.

The message couldn’t be clearer: Businesses must explore every available avenue to better secure their networks.

What is Data Network Security?

Data network security incorporates methods to help organizations protect their corporate networks from internal and external threats.

Network security includes components like:

  • Hardware – like hardware firewalls, intrusion detection systems (IDSs), proxy servers.
  • Software – like software firewalls, virtual private networks (VPNs), antimalware software.
  • Policies, processes, and rules.

Data network security tools, measures, and approaches include but aren’t limited to:

  • Firewalls. Operating at the perimeter of a network, firewalls use security rules to control incoming and outgoing network traffic. Firewalls inspect traffic and ensure that no harmful data enters a protected network.
  • Intrusion detection and prevention systems (IDPSs). Organizations can deploy IDPSs right after firewalls as an additional layer of protection. While firewalls rely on security rulesets, IDPSs watch for known malicious patterns and anomalies in traffic to detect and prevent intrusion.
  • Network Access Control (NAC). Network Access Control is a network security approach that unifies endpoint security, network security enforcement, and user authentication. With NAC, organizations can restrict or allow access to data based on the user’s identity and whether their device complies with established security policies and threat protection requirements.
  • Antivirus and antimalware software. Antivirus and antimalware software prevents malicious data from entering corporate networks. Additionally, it continuously tracks files on the network to detect and neutralize malicious software that may have managed to penetrate the network.
  • Virtual private networks (VPNs). VPNs serve as an intermediary layer between endpoint devices and the Internet. Traffic sent over a VPN is encrypted and thus has increased protection from attacks. Organizations can use VPNs to protect their data, as well as to gain more network visibility and allow employees to connect to their systems remotely.
  • Data loss prevention (DLP). DLP measures are intended to prevent accidental or malicious data leaks from network-connected devices. Upon detecting policy violations, DLP software produces alerts, encrypts data, or prevents data transfer to unauthorized recipients.
  • Cloud security. Cloud security solutions protect cloud-based systems and data. Components that cloud security solutions can safeguard include online IP, applications, services, and data. Cloud security can combine the security components listed earlier to increase protection levels.

Why is Data Network Security Important?

It’s a no-brainer that data network security is crucial to business longevity and competitiveness. However, you might struggle to visualize the specific benefits of network security and the potential harm that a poorly protected infrastructure can cause.

To help you understand the importance of data network security, here are some of the benefits it can provide:

  • Uninterrupted business. Hacker attacks can disrupt business to varying degrees. In the worst case, you might need to shut down your entire digital infrastructure to secure your data and your operations. While network security measures cannot eliminate the risk of business interruptions due to hacker attacks, they can help you significantly reduce their likelihood.
  • Reduced downtime after attacks. Good data network security isn’t just about keeping threats out – it’s also about efficiently managing attacks that are already happening. If your security policies and tools allow you to quickly detect, contain, and eliminate threats, you’ll be able to minimize downtime after an attack and restore your operations quicker.
  • No costs and losses associated with data breaches. Data breaches can incur costs of millions of dollars due to downtime, damage to software and hardware systems, lost business opportunities, or even legal action. A strong data network security system can minimize the risk of data breaches. And even when breaches do happen, network security measures can help you reduce costs by minimizing downtime or reputation loss.
  • Avoidance of fines and legal consequences. Depending on the severity and nature of a data breach, businesses may have to face legal consequences for negligence or mishandling of data. Focusing on compliance and well-thought-out network security can help you avoid legal issues.

Top 8 Data Network Security Best Practices You Should Implement Today

The range of measures you can adopt to reinforce your network security is endless. To keep things simple, we’ll take a look at the top 8 best practices you should follow to secure your corporate network.

1. Segment Your Network

First up, if you haven’t done so already, segment your network. Breaking down your network into small chunks can give you finer-grained control over the trust settings of different sub-networks. Not only that, but isolating networks from each other can help you prevent the spread of security incidents from one sub-network to another.

2. Use an Enterprise Messaging Solution

Are your employees using an enterprise messaging solution to communicate with each other? Because if they’re still stuck to consumer messaging apps like WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger, you have a problem.

Consumer messaging applications aren’t designed for business use and don’t provide adequate protection or control of employee communications. In contrast, enterprise secure messaging tools can help you track where your corporate data is going and whether or not your employees stay compliant with internal and external security policies.

3. Back Up Your Data

Data backups can help you reduce downtime after a data breach. Backups can protect you from data loss, and they can even help you safeguard yourself from ransomware attacks. Even if ransomware does manage to lock you out of your data, you could tap into your backups to restore access to it.

Of course, there are good and bad ways to do data backups. For the best results, keep your backups in multiple locations – including offline – and make backups as frequently as you can. You’ll need to find a balance between backup frequency and storage costs, but, if possible, do backups more often.

4. Encrypt Your Data

Your business data should be encrypted while in transit over your network and while at rest on storage devices. This can help you protect your data if your network is compromised or if an employee loses a device connected to your network.

When it comes to encryption, one of the things that businesses should start thinking about is quantum-ready encryption. Quantum computers will become a real threat to classical encryption algorithms sooner rather than later. You can use security platforms like our QiSpaceTM to future-proof your network against quantum threats.

5. Keep Your Security Software Up to Date

Software updates aren’t always seamless, but if you want to maintain the highest degree of protection, you must ensure that your cybersecurity solutions are updated to their latest versions.

No matter how quickly we patch vulnerabilities, threat actors will always come up with new tricks and hacks to breach our networks. Fortunately, cybersecurity experts are equally as inventive as hackers and can usually develop security patches fairly quickly. But to be able to leverage the latest threat intelligence, you must install software updates as soon as they become available.

6. Have a Disaster Recovery Plan

Extending beyond just the discovery and neutralization of threats, data network security also incorporates post-breach crisis management and recovery. Rather than figure out solutions on the go and hope for the best, you should develop a clear disaster recovery plan that will guide your employees and your operations should a disaster happen.

Among other things, a disaster recovery plan can help you:

  • Establish effective communication protocols
  • Recover key operations and processes quicker after a cyberattack
  • Clarify how your employees should carry out operations at a limited capacity

7. Update Your Security Policies

Your security policies should reflect the latest trends in the cybersecurity landscape. Updating your policies once a year isn’t enough – you should adapt your approaches to cybersecurity as soon as you detect changes in how hackers operate and what tools they’re using. If you do this, your employees will be able to protect themselves from the most recent threats and follow the newest cybersecurity best practices.

8. Conduct Awareness Training

Unaware or negligent employees often fall prey to phishing attacks and social engineering techniques. In fact, over 80% of data breaches are caused by human error. Employees can fall for scams due to being distracted, tired, or just because they think the scams look legitimate.

Regular cybersecurity awareness training can help employees better identify scams and stay on top of the latest cybersecurity threats. Gamified awareness training with elements like red teaming and simulated phishing attacks can be especially effective thanks to their quick feedback and high engagement.

Zero Trust Meets SASE

In our modern digital business environment, ensuring robust data network security is made more challenging by the fluid and hybrid nature of our systems. Data exists in a blend of on-premise infrastructure, in the cloud, and anywhere in between at any point in time.

It’s no longer easy to define precisely what’s “inside” or “outside” your network. To use an analogy: in the past, a business could seclude and defend its sensitive and confidential data by building an impenetrable “fortress” (the corporate perimeter) surrounded by an untraversable “moat” (firewalls and other physical security protocols.)

Today, these defined corporate perimeters or “fortresses” have given way to dynamic environments. Networks now operate more like busy airports or train stations at peak hours.

Trying to protect and defend your data from attack using a static “moat” is an approach that’s no longer fit-for-purpose. This is where the thoughtful unification and application of two modern security principles –SASE and zero trust – becomes the sensible choice.

Zero Trust

Zero trust operates on the assumption that you “don’t trust anybody,” and they’ll only be granted access to your network and the data residing within it once they’ve proven that they’re authorized to do so. Users and devices must pass rigorous identity verification and access management tests to be afforded this trust.

SASE

SASE (Secure Access Service Edge) is an approach that unites comprehensive WAN capabilities along with advanced network security functions to support organizations’ dynamic secure access needs. It’s effective in protecting cloud services, networks, and the data and apps that run over them – from the corporate headquarters to the users at home to the edge (including sensors and IoT devices in manufacturing facilities and smart buildings, for example.)

When SASE meets zero-trust, businesses have a far better chance of fending off unauthorized attempts to access their data and other assets, irrespective of the configuration or design of their network architecture.

This is what enterprises need at the very least in a world where cybercriminals are swiftly side-stepping multiple authentication layers.

But there’s more…

Solving the Password Problem

One more issue needs to be addressed: the password and credentials conundrum.

Today, too many traditional authentication and authorization approaches still use and depend on passwords and user credentials. These can be lost, stolen, shared, or reused, rendering them unsound and unreliable mechanisms to base identity and access management.

Most security breaches result from compromised credentials. Remember the May 2021 ransomware attack against the Colonial Pipeline, which significantly impacted the flow of refined oil across the country? Hackers breached Colonial’s systems using a single compromised password. This allowed them to enter the company’s networks through a virtual private network (VPN) account.

As soon as cybercriminals have accessed credentials and passwords, they can use them to skip through authentication steps. Worse still, their presence often goes undetected for months, during which time they’ve had the opportunity to cause untold damage or loss.

Passwordless authentication and authorization allow businesses to bypass these issues. They pave the way for secure logins without the need to secure user passwords, thanks to their use of advanced encryption algorithms.

Data Network Security: Where to Next?

With so many devices connecting and communicating with one another over wired, wireless, and cellular networks, effective data network security isn’t a nice-to-have; it’s imperative.

It’s worth noting that responsible and future-looking businesses recognize that even today’s more modern data network security and authentication systems that use encryption algorithms (rather than passwords) have a limited ability to defend against the next data network security specter looming large on the horizon – the quantum security threat.

Quantum computers can process information at speeds exponentially faster than classical computers. But the downside is that this also gives them the power to potentially crack existing encryption algorithms that protect so much of the world’s Internet-based data.

At some point, better and more complex algorithms simply won’t be enough. Quantum computing is changing the rules of the cybersecurity game. We need to change with it or risk getting blown away.

NIST in the USA has been spearheading an open program to identify and develop new approaches that will help form the basis of network security in the years ahead. The current efforts around Post Quantum Cryptography can be found here.

Quantropi Can Help

At Quantropi, we’re firm proponents of future-proofing cybersecurity. Rather than react to changes in the cybersecurity industry as they happen, we believe that governments and businesses should adopt a forward-thinking approach to protect themselves against potential threats long before they become a problem.

QiSpace™ FREE Quantum-Security Trial

We’re the only cybersecurity company in the world providing the 3 prerequisites for cryptographic integrity: Trust, Uncertainty, and Entropy (TrUE). Powered by quantum mechanics expressed as linear algebra, our patented TrUE technologies establish Trust between any two parties via quantum-secure asymmetric MASQ™ encryption (coming soon); ensure Uncertainty to attackers, rendering data uninterpretable forever, with QEEP™ symmetric encryption; and provide Quantum Entropy as a Service (QEaaS) with SEQUR™ – ultra-random key generation and distribution to enable secure data communications. All Quantropi’s TrUE technologies are accessible via our flagship QiSpace™ platform.

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Marco Pagani

Marco Pagani began his long and successful career as a senior executive in Ottawa’s high-tech sector in 1985, with Nortel Networks (then Bell-Northern Research). He rose across two decades to become president of several Nortel Business Units, managing more than 2,000 employees and over $1 billion in revenue. Having gone on to advise numerous organizations, as well as guide a range of companies through complex, critically necessary turnarounds, he is particularly respected for placing a strong emphasis on ethics and corporate governance in building the culture of the corporate and not-for-profit organizations he leads and supports.

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Patricio Mariaca

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Eric Chan

Eric Chan a.k.a. EEPMON is a Crypto / Digital Artist with 15 years in the industry – and Quantropi’s Creative Emissary. His hybrid fractal/digital creations have been seen in fashion, comics to museums and has exhibited worldwide. EEPMON’s collaborations include Canada Goose, MARVEL, Snoopy, Microsoft Xbox, Canada Science & Technology Museum and was a TEDx performing artist. In 2018 he represented Canada on its first Creative Industries Trade Mission led by Canada’s Minister of Heritage and serves on the Canadian Museums Association‘s Board of Directors. At the same time, he is currently completing his Master of Information Technology – Digital Media at Carleton University. 

Christopher McKenzie

With his extensive experience in software development and strong analytical skills, Chris can handle the entire end-to-end software development life cycle. Prior to Quantropi, he served as Director of Product Development at Sphyrna Security, Inc., where he managed the delivery of security compliance automation and data diode appliance products, and as Commercial Software Development Manager at Cord3, Inc., where he managed the development of an advanced data access policy management product. Chris graduated from Computer Science at Algonquin College and the Ottawa School of Arts in 1998. Read less

Dafu Lou

Dafu is Quantropi’s Director of engineering. Prior to Quantropi, he served as a technical leader at Irdeto, a world-leading provider of digital platform security software, where he was responsible for white-box cryptography, cloaked CA secure core, and iOS/android application protection services, among others. Prior to Irdeto, Dafu served as a senior software engineer at SecureNex Systems, where he led the implementation of an SSL-VPN solution and ECC-based secure data storage & PKI. He earned his Ph.D. in electrical engineering from the University of Ottawa in 2009. Dafu is also a part-time professor, teaching VLSI, Cryptography and other subjects at uOttawa.

Pauline Arnold

As James Nguyen’s EA, Pauline Arnold brings more than 40 years of experience in complementary customer service and administrative roles. Prior to Quantropi, she served 20 years as Branch Manager and an assistant in investments, and over 20 years at Metropolitan Life Canada in various aspects of the insurance sector – assisting clients, management and colleagues to complete tasks, solve problems, address questions and achieve goals. She also worked part-time for Royal Lepage Performance for 5+ years as a receptionist & admin, and for 5 years was chair of the TKFG’s charity golf tournament.

Bond Vo

Bond Vo is the Business Analyst of Quantropi. Along with Quantropi, Bond has been dynamic in accordance with a fast and evolving startup environment and is responsible in a wide range of areas including market research, funding, and more involved in the controller roles to oversee day to day accounting operation as well as build financing models and budget to achieve company’s ultimate goals/objectives. Bond has applied best practices consistently and successfully supports equity, debt, and non-dilutive funding for Quantropi since joint the team. He earned a Bachelor of Commerce concentrated in Finance from Carleton University. Outside of his professional career, Bond also participated in volunteer for the Vietnamese Immigration Student Association (VISA) to help and support students as well as newcomers in Canada.

Tina Wang

Tina develops websites and participates in a range of different projects, using new frameworks for front-end UI, along with Vuejs, Angula, Beego, Ruby on Rails, and Electron. She developed Quantropi’s desktop CipherSpace application by integrating Electron, Webassembly and Go, to ensure a good user experience, as well as perfect operating system compatibility. She is also part of the dynamic and efficient QKD-NODE project team. Tina is always looking for new ways to increase her knowledge, improve her technological proficiency and enhance her strong execution and implementation skills. Prior to Quantropi, Tina served as a full-stack web developer at Sunny Future, where she maintained a WordPress home site and managed the release of new content for the company.

Nick Kuang

As VP Corporate Services, Nick plans, directs and coordinates a wide range of activities aimed at achieving Quantropi’s vision of the Quantum Internet. He has a keen interest in transformative technologies and the possibilities they offer for bettering our everyday lives. A pharmacist by training, Nick nurtures teams with a focus on integrity and collaborative effort, coupled with strong attention to detail. With prior experience in a successful biotech start-up developing point-of-care test kits, he enjoys the fast pace and challenge of the start-up environment.

Alex He

Alex is a product-oriented project manager who bridges the gaps between the company’s engineering and commercial teams. He has over ten years of experience in the analysis, design and development of enterprise-class applications, with a particular focus on creating optimal user experiences (UX). Ever passionate about cybersecurity solutions that can deliver solid security without unreasonably sacrificing customer convenience, Alex is the lead inventor of a registered patent on user interface security. He is committed to helping ensure that the Agile software engineering team at Quantropi delivers consistently high-quality, high crypto-agility cybersecurity solutions for next-generation communications.

Michael Redding

Before joining Quantropi, Mike was Managing Director and co-founder of Accenture Ventures, where he grew a global portfolio of strategic partnerships and 38 equity investments in emerging technology startups.

During his nearly 30 years with Accenture, he incubated and launched technology innovations for enterprises across multiple geographies and industries. Ever-passionate about bold ideas with game-changing results, he speaks frequently on the impact of emerging technology on large organizations.

With a bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from Princeton, and a Master’s in Biomedical Engineering from Northwestern, Mike is a former member of the Board of Directors for the Accenture Foundation and Board Observer for startups Maana and Splice Machine.

Raj Narula, P.Eng.

A seasoned technology executive, business builder and angel investor, Raj has held operational and advisory roles in Recognia (Trading Central), Belair Networks (Ericsson), March Networks (Infinova), Sandvine (Procera), Neurolanguage (ADEC), Bridgewater Systems (Amdocs), Vayyoo (Cafex), TenXc (CCI), 1Mobility (Qualys) and others. Having divided his time among North America, EMEA and Asia-Pac for over 20 years, Raj speaks several languages. He grew up in Asia, Europe, South America and Canada, and holds a B.Eng degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Ottawa. He is also a co-founder and Charter Member of the Ottawa chapter of TiE (the Indus Entrepreneur).

Ken Dobell

Ken leads marketing strategy at Quantropi. In high demand as a consultant with 25 years’ experience in performance media and an award- winning creative background, he has completed successful transformations, (re)branding and product development mandates with KPMG, Keurig, Fidelity, Eddyfi, Coveo, and more, and provides digital advice to the CMA. Previously, Ken pivoted an offline advertising brokerage to a leading-edge, data-driven performance agency as President of DAC Digital, held a progression of international leadership roles with Monster.com, pioneered a range of multi-channel initiatives as VP Marketing with a global franchisor, and introduced a mobile-first programmatic media offering to Canada within WPP.

Dr. Randy Kuang

Randy holds a doctorate in quantum physics. His research findings have been published in top international journals and named “Kuang’s semi-classical formalism” by NASA in 2012. With a career spanning IT, including with Nortel as senior network researcher & developer, he co-founded inBay Technologies in 2009, serving as CTO of the cybersecurity platform. As the first recipient of a patent for two-level authentication (2011), Randy is a prolific inventor, with 30+ U.S. patents in broad technology fields, such as WiMAX, optical networks, multi-factor identity authentication, transaction authorization, as well as concepts, technologies and industrial applications for quantum key distribution.

James Nguyen

Prior to leading Quantropi, James was Chief Investment Officer & VP Asia Operations for a group of private and public real estate, mining, energy storage, graphene technologies and manufacturing interests, where, in his responsibilities for strategy, banking and global expansions, he secured large-scale investments and partnerships for commercializing graphene applications across multiple industries. A graduate of Carleton in Economics, he previously achieved success managing a mid-market portfolio (professional services, public sector, Asian markets) at RBC for over a decade. James has been on the HKCBA board, held advisory positions with technology start-ups and gives back as volunteer, fundraiser and mentor.