What Is Network Analytics?
Network analytics is the application of big data principles and tools to the management and security of networks. Analytics helps IT improve security, fine-tune network performance, troubleshoot issues, and predict traffic trends, with deeper insight into network performance and usage. This helps identify future problems and conduct detailed forensic investigations and audits.
Network analytics is becoming more important due to the massive increase in the number of entities in the network. Due to the continued rise of IoT and the popularity of software-as-code, microservices, and cloud computing, the number and diversity of entities in networks is exploding. Analytics is critical to providing comprehensive management and security in an increasingly complex environment.
Analytics is also essential to building a zero trust environment. A zero trust architecture needs a way to close the loop between policy and observed network behavior. Analytics provides the ability to automatically identify abnormal network behavior, closing the loop.
Why Is Network Analytics Important?
Network analytics provides deep insight into IT networks and helps administrators make informed business decisions.
This is particularly useful for preventing, detecting, and responding to security threats. The complexity of IT networks has resulted in great vulnerability to cybersecurity attacks. Traditional security measures are no longer sufficient to prevent these threats. Network analytics plays an important role in detecting network anomalies and predicting and alerting administrators to security breaches.
Beyond security, data center network managers rely on network analytics to optimize their infrastructure and perform capacity planning. Administrators gain a deep understanding and meaningful insight into complex network planning and sizing. Network analytics can also play an important role in reducing operational costs.
5 Types of Network Analytics Solutions and Tools
1. Dedicated Network Analytics Software
Modern IT network traffic analysis software can be divided into two categories: packet inspection and network traffic-based analysis. Many of these tools collect real-time data from various sources across the network, store historical data to monitor past events and performance issues, and help users detect unexpected anomalies.
IT network traffic analysis tools work by capturing data packets as they travel through the network, inspecting and decoding the information in an easy-to-use, visually appealing, and human-readable format. By analyzing rich packet information, network managers can more effectively monitor traffic patterns and network performance.
2. Digital Forensics and Incident Response (DFIR)
The two main components of DFIR are:
- Digital forensics - a subset of forensic analysis that investigates user activity, system data, and other digital patterns to identify an attack in progress and who is behind it.
- Incident response - a comprehensive process organizations follow to prepare for, identify, contain, and recover systems from data breaches.
The proliferation of endpoint devices and cybersecurity attacks has made DFIR a key feature of an organization's digital security and threat hunting strategy. The migration to the cloud and the move to remote work have increased the need for organizations to protect every device connected to their network from various threats.
DFIR has traditionally been a reactive security feature, but advanced tools and advanced technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) are enabling organizations to transition to proactive DFIR activity. In this context, DFIR can also be viewed as a component of a proactive cybersecurity strategy.
3. Security Information and Event Management (SIEM)
SIEM software gives network administrators complete visibility into activity within a corporate network. It does this by collecting and aggregating log data generated by the company's integrated security framework, which includes firewalls, NAC, IPS, and advanced threat protection systems.
The software then generates security reports covering the analysis of events such as unusual network activity and potential malware attacks. With this data, administrators can quickly respond to threats by limiting user access, isolating the network environment, and blocking malicious payloads. SIEM software allows administrators to make informed decisions to improve the organization’s network security strategy, minimizing exposure to threats by providing detailed insight into network traffic and malware signatures.
4. Network Access Control (NAC)
Network access control uses organization-wide policies and network management tools to block unauthorized devices and users from accessing the corporate network.
NAC allows you to assign user accounts to people inside the organization, and classify users by job function or set role-based permissions defining what they are allowed to access and do on the network. NAC can also grant restricted access to guest or external users on the network, so sensitive corporate information is not exposed.
NAC tools also allow company-approved devices to register with the system, so the network can determine which devices are allowed access. Access can be restricted based on the operating system the device is running on, and whether the appropriate security software is installed. to prevent network attacks via high-risk devices.
5. Microsegmentation Tools
Microsegmentation is a form of network security that allows you to logically divide a data center into distinct security-based segments at the workload level. They can then define security controls and provide security services appropriate to each workload.
Microsegmentation allows IT to deploy flexible security policies deep within the data center, rather than using network virtualization technologies to install multiple physical firewalls. You can also use microsegmentation to secure every virtual machine (VM) on your corporate network with policy-based, application-level security controls.
Because security policies apply to individual workloads, microsegmentation software can significantly increase a company's resilience to attack.
Author Bio: Gilad David Maayan
Gilad David Maayan is a technology writer who has worked with over 150 technology companies including SAP, Imperva, Samsung NEXT, NetApp and Check Point, producing technical and thought leadership content that elucidates technical solutions for developers and IT leadership. Today he heads Agile SEO, the leading marketing agency in the technology industry.