Network security is an important topic in the business world today. There’s a good reason for that. About 10 billion records have been compromised in data breaches since 2005. This is a crisis for both enterprises and consumers, as all parties involved are damaged by these attacks. Monitoring your networks is an essential step toward making them safer. Here are some network monitoring security best practices.

Establish a Baseline Before Monitoring

It makes sense to want to jump right into the monitoring process as soon as possible. After all, the whole idea behind network monitoring is you need to be doing it to truly protect yourself. Best practice, however, dictates that you should establish a baseline before beginning the active monitoring process.

The reasoning behind this is pretty simple. You’re not actually going to know when something’s off if you haven’t gotten strong readings on how the network behaves when it’s healthy. Rushing through this step can cause major problems down the line. For starters, you might be constantly thinking there’s an issue when nothing is wrong. But worse than that, you might end up missing the real threat by not having a solid baseline reading to alert you of abnormalities. Remember, you’re only going to find problems when you have a clear idea of standard network behavior.

Cover All Your Bases

Threats can come from anywhere. If there’s a vulnerability, someone will find a way to exploit it. Enterprises, then, have two options: have no sensitive data, or obsessively plug holes when you find them. The first choice clearly isn’t viable in today’s world.

There are huge discrepancies between different network security solutions. While most will revolve around a few basic principles and tools, not all will be the same. It’s essential you have a strong understanding of what is and isn’t covered by your organization’s network security protocols. Any lapses in coverage need to be addressed before they can be exploited by dangerous parties.

Consider Contracting a Security Provider

Some enterprises want to keep all their IT and network security in-house. While there are certainly valid reasons for wanting to do this, it’s not always the best decision in practice. These are a few reasons why working with a network monitoring security company can be a better choice:

  • Always have a second pair of eyes – No matter the quality and expertise of your internal tech team, they’re going to make mistakes. Having a second line of defense on the job can limit the chances of threats slipping through the cracks.
  • Specialized expertise – Your IT department likely has a lot of bright minds able to solve a variety of complex technical issues. But most aren’t going to be experts in highly specific, evolving aspects of network security. Getting that specialized expertise to support your team can make a huge difference in overall security.
  • The cost can more than pay for itself – The average cost of a data breach is over $8 million in the U.S. Can your enterprise really afford to just hand that over? And your reputation can be damaged for years, if not permanently, by compromising sensitive data.

Ensure the Monitoring Process Itself Is Secure

Securing networks can be an incredibly complex, intensive process. But once you’ve done that, you don’t want to end up still falling victim because the monitoring process itself wasn’t secured in the proper way. There are a few important points to consider here.

First, ensure monitoring data, passwords, and security protocols are stored in a safe way. It’s easy to overlook this, as it seems mundane, but these pieces are sort of like a key to infiltrate your enterprise networks. They need to be treated as sensitive information just as much as the rest of your data.

It’s also essential to not leave anything out of the monitoring process. Nothing is immune from threats. Keeping a beat on each layer—even those that seem totally safe—will help you stay ahead of incoming attacks.

There’s a lot to consider when putting together a network monitoring security protocol. It’s important to learn from the mistakes of others in this realm. Don’t underestimate the importance of thoroughly monitoring and securing enterprise networks.