If you have a network, you need a security plan to go along with it.
Developing and implementing a network security plan is crucial to protecting your company network from would-be intruders.
8 Steps to Develop and Implement a Network Security Plan
While it’s highly technical and best left to the professionals, it helps to understand the steps involved to ensure it’s being done correctly and help evaluate potential service providers.
Here’s how most security professionals develop and implement a plan to secure their network.
1. Identify Network Assets
The first step in developing a security plan is identifying the network assets present on the network that need to be protected.
This helps focus the project and ensures the right assets are being protected.
Network assets might include network hosts like the machines employees are using or the data they have stored; it could consist of networking devices like switches or routers.
It could also include the data that’s passing over the network at any given time.
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2. Analyze Security Risks
The next step in the process is identifying and analyzing potential risks to the network. An essential part of this step is determining how likely it is that a threat might occur and the severity of that particular risk if it occurs.
This could include anything from hackers penetrating the network or gaining control of networking devices, to a breach, to stealing customer data.
It also requires a good understanding of the current threat landscape and how much it might affect your business.
Risk assessment doesn’t end with this step but should instead be an ongoing process even after the security plan is implemented.
3. Analyze Security Requirements
This step consists of taking risks and the network assets and determining the business’s requirements for security. Which data or devices are most important to secure?
This is also where budget comes into play since some solutions can be more expensive than the risk they’re trying to mitigate, or they might render the application almost completely unusable or cumbersome.
4. Develop a Security Plan
This is a detailed step where the network designer includes a diagram of the network topology and proposes how to secure the various assets correctly. It should build upon the first three steps but shouldn’t be too complex.
At a minimum, it needs to discuss the services the network will provide and how to secure those services.
You’ll also develop an implementation strategy as part of this step, where you’ll look at the technical tasks necessary to implement your security plan.
5. Define the Security Policy
Every business, no matter how small, needs some sort of security policy. At its most basic, this document might include the rules that employees need to follow when using the network and its devices.
It should outline acceptable uses of network assets, as well as unacceptable uses. It should also outline how permissions to various applications or data will be assigned and managed across the network.
6. Train Users, Managers, and IT Staff
Your security plan isn’t much good if you don’t have buy-in from the company’s employees, so this is the step where you’ll obtain that buy-in and provide training to them. Compliance training is vital to ensure your employees understand what’s required of them.
Your IT staff will need additional training beyond what you provide to users and managers since they’ll often be on the front lines, fixing issues as they arise.
If your IT support is from an outside agency, you’ll want to make sure they’re read in on your program (unless, of course, they’re developing your network security strategy for you!).
7. Implement Your Strategy
The second to last step of your security network plan is to implement the strategy you’ve worked so hard on.
For your implementation to be effective, you need to plan for the timeline to implement, who will be working on the implementation, any outsourcing requirements (if applicable), risks involved, and a contingency plan.
8. Monitor and Adjust As Needed
The work isn’t done once the plan has been implemented, however. You should constantly monitor your security plan to ensure it’s working as designed and using network security monitoring tools to help in that task.
Keeping an eye on potential attacks or aberrant activity on your network is critical to keeping it secured in the face of ever-present and changing threats.
It’s also essential to make sure patches are kept up to date, again, something that an outside support agency can undoubtedly help support.
Network Security Is a Job for the Pros
Designing and implementing a network security plan can be a challenging undertaking, so if you don’t have a background in cybersecurity, it’s best to let the professionals who design your company’s network design and implement the security strategy as well.
Another good practice is to use a different agency to secure your network to be objective and help identify problems you have in your network.
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