The primary purpose of network security software is to decrease unauthorized access, track any unauthorized attempts to access the network, and allow a security administrator to customize and manage the software. All computer networks are potential targets. Security software typically is the most efficient way to reduce and manage this risk.
There are two types of security risks that must be managed by network security software: unauthorized access to data and unauthorized use of system resources. Numerous reasons exist as to why a third party may be interested in accessing the data of a company, ranging from business competition to disgruntled former employees. Information is a valuable commodity, and the ability to safeguard and secure this data is essential in any organization. People who are planning criminal activities via computers often use unprotected computer networks as a way of hiding their location. This use of resources can make it very difficult for police to track the transaction back to the originator.
The first thing to do when looking to select the best network security software is to make a list of all potential security holes in the network. Start with the physical location of the hardware and the security system that manages the access to this system. Then make a list of all the network ports that are accessible via the Internet and all the methods of accessing the network. Any network security software program must be able to manage these risks.
Look at the long- and short-range strategic plans for the network and system growth. Any network security software needs to be able to increase capacity to meet the anticipated system growth. Avoid software products that have a limited number of options for growth. The price point for these systems often is lower, but it will not be able to provide the required level of support as the firm grows.
Think about the type of data that your organization manages and who would benefit from access to this data. The type of data, risk, and reward for illegal access has a huge impact when selecting network security software. For example, a financial services firm must have the highest level of network security possible, as the rewards for accessing this data are quite substantial. The risks for the firm are so significant that the firm would be open to lawsuits and potential collapse should they fail to provide the appropriate level of security. This is an important consideration when looking at different network security software.
A small- to medium-sized services firm, however, does not have the same type of reward or level of temptation to third parties. For these firms, the greatest security risk stems from current or former employees. Any possible solution would have to be able to manage this area of risk through random changes in passwords and access account management.