Major gaps in understanding about network security solutions

New research from Nexans shows confusion is rife across the IT industry when it comes to understanding network security solutions and how companies monitor who is connected to their networks.

The cabling infrastructure specialist warns that companies are wasting valuable resources and potentially leaving networks open to unauthorised users or disconnection due to a lack of understanding about what network security solutions cover.

Rather surprisingly, over 30% of respondents either had nothing in place, or did not know what was in place, to prevent unauthorised connection to, or disconnection from, the wired network.

Rob Cardigan, Nexans says: “It does not matter what software protection systems you may have installed on the system, if the physical infrastructure is not correctly protected and monitored a large security risk is left exposed.”

The research shows that Intelligent Infrastructure Management (IIM), solutions for the automatic documentation of physical and logical network connections, were widely misunderstood. 50% of respondents who use IIM were still conducting physical security audits according to the research, even though IIM is designed to remove the need for this resource heavy and time consuming physical analysis.

“The research indicates that much more education on IIM is needed in the marketplace”, says Cardigan. “IIM solutions can automatically discover and monitor network connectivity in real time, which ensures network connections are secure and that connectivity documentation is always 100% accurate. In an increasingly competitive business world, efficient network management is crucial to the productivity of an organisation.”

Lockable connectivity is also being misunderstood in the marketplace with a surprisingly high number of respondents – over 33% – claiming to use lockable connectivity. Cardigan continues: “This doesn’t tally with our experience of the market. Clearly organisations are assuming that lockable connectivity covers a multitude of applications. Lockable connectivity is actually about getting it right at the nuts and bolts level, where a fibre and copper plug and socket interface can be mechanically locked to prevent unauthorised disconnection.

“Data centre and network managers need to be thinking about the different layers of security they need to use to ensure their networks are properly protected. Nowhere is the ability to quickly and effectively monitor and manage risk more important than in the complex and ever expanding environment of data centres and enterprise network management.

“IIM solutions can allow automatic responses to perceived threats, for instance quarantining any unknown MAC addresses that attempt to connect to the network or turning off switch ports in response to an unauthorised connection. Power sockets which are not being used can be disabled to prevent unauthorised equipment being added to the network.

“Before the industry can truly benefit from these solutions however it seems that more understanding is needed about what they can achieve otherwise networks risk being left exposed and resources will be unnecessarily wasted.”