The telecommunications network that allows computers to exchange data via other networked computing devices is known as a computer network. The connections between nodes are established using either cable media or wireless media. A host of activities utilizing many resources is required to be carried out continuously to ensure that the networking system works smoothly. The maintenance, control and coordination of all resources involved and the execution of these activities is known as computer network management. Security of the stored data or data which is being transmitted is the primary responsibility of network management systems.
Network security issues involve:
* Maintaining network integrity.
* Preventing unauthorized users from infiltrating the system for viewing or stealing sensitive data, passwords, etc.
* Protecting the network against denial of service ( DoS)]attacks or distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks. These attacks are triggered by external sources to make a machine or network resource unavailable to an intending user.
* Magnification of security risks as networks increase in size. Larger networks are more susceptible to attack because they offer more vulnerable points at which intruders can gain access. More users, more passwords, and more hardware mean more places a hacker can try to get in.
* Budgetary issues regarding investment for defense against these problems which include acquiring firewalls and proxies, installing strong antivirus software and network analysis software and providing physical security for the hardware.
* Policy decisions for deploying strict password controls, making use of network analysis software and physically securing computer networking assets.
* Policy decisions on procedures to be followed if the network is hacked and the system is compromised (damage control procedures).
Computer Network Management Responsibilities
The Information Technology department or division of an organization is the ‘owner’ of all computers networks and is the primary contact for all network management and network security related activities. Its roles and responsibilities vis-à-vis security issues are as enumerated below.
* Prepare the network usage guidelines, keep them updated and post them in its page of the organization site.
* Publish security alerts, post vulnerability notices, direct users to applicable security patches, and broadcast other pertinent information to assist in preventing network security breaches.
* Ensure that all inbound dial-up lines via modems etc and real-time external connections via the Internet to the network must pass through an additional access control point aka the firewall before authorized users reach the log-in banner or screen of the organization’s web site.
* Investigate all alleged computer or network security compromises, incidents, or problems.
* Prominently display contact numbers, mail ids for reporting suspected security problems and issues in its web page. Anonymous calls will also be entertained.
* Monitor all network traffic on real-time basis as necessary for data and information security purposes.
* Perform a security audit or scan any computer, server, or network device at any time to evaluate network performance and to ensure appropriate security.
* Deactivate any server in the network which is suspect till such time the problem is resolved.
* Formulate procedures for escalating problems to top management including the methods for reporting emergencies.
* Train the personnel identified to handle security breaches and carry out surprise emergency drills to evaluate the preparedness of the responsible persons.
* Approve and install all network filtering devices used as a firewall.
* Determine how access will be granted to rooms that house network electronics and physical cable plant to ensure physical network security.
* Develop and maintain a registry of all servers resident on the network, including all desktop workstations that are configured to run as servers.
* Create procedures and schedules for backup of data in all servers and continuously monitor this activity.
Security issues need to be dealt with very strictly, however many of these activities must be carried out tactfully to ensure that the network users do not feel that they are being watched over by a ‘big brother’ all the time.