Organizations have become heavily dependent on their network systems. These device assemblages and interconnections are vital to communications within businesses, and between businesses and the outside world.
But these networks are often at risk of being sabotaged or exploited by ill-intentioned agents. These malicious actors may seek out vulnerabilities within networks and work through them to strike at their target entities.
If companies are going to reduce the chances of being hit by cyberattackers, they will have to gain greater visibility of their networks, so they can monitor the goings-on across them, and take measures to strengthen their defenses.
Network Visibility Defined
Network visibility is being able to access, track, and analyze all components of a network, including the devices and the data that passes between them.
Essentially, it means that you are able to evaluate aspects of a network such as its traffic, performance, applications, managed resources, and data.
In pursuing network security, IT teams seek to identify where data is coming from, where it’s going to, the purpose and type of data, the quantity of data, and whether it’s authorized or not.
In order to achieve network visibility, organizations will have to find ways to monitor network activity with as much detail and consistency as is possible. They can do this with various tools designed for this purpose.
A key issue in network visibility is defining the extent of the network’s reach, and thus, the breadth of monitoring that needs to be done. With more employees working remotely, networks may extend well beyond their employer’s physical offices. All devices plugged into the network need to be visible, regardless of where they are.
Why Organizations Need Greater Network Visibility
Perhaps the most obvious advantage that companies gain when they have greater visibility of their networks is that it lets them detect security concerns or breaches early enough to remedy them.
The nature of cyber threats continues to evolve. And each year, organizations across the world devote a significant portion of their budgets to securing themselves against those threats. Unfortunately, may don’t pay enough attention to shoring up their defenses. As a result, they may fall victim to cyberattacks.
Available data suggest that cybercrime cost businesses more than $1 trillion in 2020. That amount includes both spending on cybersecurity and losses due to cyberattacks. The figure could reach $10 trillion by 2025.
When companies have a better view of what goes on in their networks, they can detect vulnerabilities and breaches, and fix them before they morph into costly incidents.
But the benefits of network security do not merely reside with seeing off cyber threats. Inefficient data transmission through networks is a concern as well. When data clogs up a path, the network may underperform. Greater network visibility enables IT teams to spot this problem. They could fix it by updating the firmware of the device concerned so that it has a better reaction to network congestion.
Sometimes, networks may underperform because unauthorized devices or software have been plugged into them. This is often not done by ill-intentioned agents; it could simply be employees using company resources when they shouldn’t be doing so. If their employer has greater visibility of their network, they can detect such unauthorized software or devices and remove them.
There could be any number of other problems that a network may have. Whatever they are, it certainly helps to be able to review the entirety of the network, as it could enable the affected organization to discover what those problems are, and quickly troubleshoot them.
Contemporary Challenges To Network Visibility
As businesses begin to realize the importance of network visibility, more of them will take steps to make it a reality within their domains. However, they may encounter certain impediments that prevent them from achieving a reasonable range of vision across their network.
One of these problems is the use of multiple vendors for networks and network components. Organizations go the multi-vendor route as a cost-cutting measure. However, besides actually increasing their costs, the multi-vendor approach also makes networks more complex, thus making them difficult to manage. Ultimately, it could reduce the degree of network visibility that an organization can achieve.
Challenges could also arise when a company operates with a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy. While employees will like to work in environments where this policy is in place, it could bring about difficulties in network management. IT teams will need to work out a network visibility strategy that takes devices not owned by the employer into consideration.
Remote work also makes broad network visibility harder to achieve. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, more companies have had to make their employees work from home. Their devices will be connected to their employer’s network from remote locations, often on a Virtual Private Network (VPN).
Because these devices aren’t as firmly controlled as those owned by companies, things like passwords or access keys are always at risk of being stolen by malicious actors, who could use them to access companies’ networks. Given this danger, it’s important that remote access is covered by network visibility setups, even if it’s sometimes difficult to accomplish this.
How To Maintain And Improve Network Visibility
Network threats may either be external (taking advantage of vulnerabilities that may be externally exploited) or internal (resident within the network). Full network visibility will have to include both these fronts.
There are various technologies that may be used to accomplish a wide, far-reaching view of network setup. But these tools may require the input of a trained IT team to operate as they should.
When developing a visibility strategy, it’s important to work with network security experts that will make implementation and monitoring easier.
Layer3 can provide you with the expertise your organization needs to gain comprehensive network visibility. Our consultants and engineers have a deep knowledge of network infrastructure. They leverage this to provide best-in-class solutions that make your IT setup function optimally.
If you would like to find out more about our network security solutions, click here.
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