Network Security Controls
Guarding the Central Nervous System of the World
The rapid evolution of network security controls has parallels throughout history, as humankind sought to preserve its progress and protect it from the entropy and chaos that seemed always to be threatening. Here and there on the planet, a handful of physical reminders of those precarious chapters still stand, where civilization teetered on the brink of reversal – or even saw progress itself eclipsed, sometimes for centuries.
Consider the ancient Pantheon in Rome, a phenomenal dome topped by an open “oculus,” or eye, that projects a circle of light on the interior in ever-changing patterns calculated by the earliest knowledge of astronomy. This wonder of the world witnessed the onslaught of Barbarians that finished the Roman empire, bringing down the curtain on the majestic and pivotal Pax Romana. Thus ended two centuries of growing order and security, and the relative peace, prosperity, and progress that had begun with the rule of Caesar Augustus and began a period of chaos and violence that we call the Dark Ages, which lasted 500 years.
Here, we find a reminder that progress is by no means inevitable, and, in fact, can be halted and reversed, sometimes for many lifetimes. The lesson for today might be that network security controls are of even greater importance than we might imagine.
Today, what we’ve come to think of as civilization itself has become utterly dependent on the rapid collection, analysis, and sharing of data. Our human intervention with that data seeks to turn it into useful information – with mixed results – yet such basic elements of society as power, water, and transportation now perch precariously on the fulcrum of effective network security controls. Sensing this critical dependence, industries and governments now devote at least $170 billion annually to cybersecurity.
And yet, for the vast majority of systems and installations, the physical points of access to our vital information and data networks remain unguarded. It’s hard to believe when you step back and consider it, but, in fact, the sector of the network security controls perimeter that should be the most obvious – the visible, physical sector – is the one that is left completely unguarded in most cases. Of all the paradox that came with the digital revolution, this might be the most puzzling. How could the most obvious access to vital data and information systems be the avenue that’s overlooked?
The visible data ports and connections might be overlooked for network security controls, but they certainly have not been overlooked by saboteurs and others intent on inflicting damage. Some of the most consequential examples of cyber-espionage and cyber-sabotage were inflicted by innocent-looking flash drives scattered – like bait – in parking lots and plugged into sensitive data systems by surprisingly naïve persons who simply wanted a free device for storing and transferring data.
Even more widespread are the daily breeches of network security controls in which authorized personnel thoughtlessly charge or sync their personal mobile device through a USB port at work. The people who inflict this untold damage are not by any means ignorant or unqualified. In fact, research has shown that this behavior occurs in even the best-trained, most thoroughly indoctrinated personnel, including authorized operatives at sensitive, high-security agencies.
Valid Lessons from History
History may suffer currently from a perception that it lacks relevance. Change accelerates so rapidly now, that ignoring experience from the past might seem justified. On the contrary, in a world where the dynamics of our daily lives are based on invisible phenomena, an historical analogy can prove pretty handy now and then.
The castles that endure today are packed with lessons for us in the era of vital network security controls. The first lesson from castles has this in common with the electromagnetic and digital world – you can’t see it. The lesson is that the first castles are gone. The only castles that remain are the ones that evolved from centuries of people just “doing the best they could.” In Britain, for example, the fortified enclosures that went up after the Norman Conquest were mostly made of wood. The motte-and-bailey castles looked somewhat like the cavalry stockades we see imagined in western movies – sharpened timbers fashioned into a perimeter wall. (In fact, most frontier cavalry forts did not have a stockade unless they housed merchandise or trade goods that needed protecting. A concentration of armed young men was considered enough protection for forts that did not.)
To return to the topic of the Middle Ages, the perimeter stockade was called the bailey. It enclosed an even more secure, elevated fortress or “keep” called a motte.
These two degrees of protection, crafted from wood, sufficed to establish the beginnings of security for agriculture, commerce, and administration. However, being wood, they either eroded or were replaced by stone structures.
So, only the results of development and continual evolution in defense became what we call castles, and only the most successful ones endure for us to tour today. In their fullest flower, castles were sited where access could be severely limited – a steep hill, a peninsula, or – in some cases – an island. When an island wasn’t handy, then a moat was dug to surround the “curtain wall” with water to make approaching the wall unfeasible. Ports through the curtain wall were few and far between, to make defending them efficient. Corners and entrances were flanked by rounded towers that offered a commanding field of fire and were less vulnerable than corners would be to undermining.
The details of castle defense, the crenellated walls, the narrow firing ports for crossbows, the hoardings and machicolations that enabled defenders to drop all manner of deadly and unpleasant substances on anyone who got too close to the wall – all these ancient devices were once innovations. The reason they endure to instruct us is because they worked.
But the one thing most important for us to learn from this chapter of history is that none of these efforts and innovations would have been effective if the castle drawbridge was left open. And that is precisely the condition that passes for the state of the art today. Almost all of the $170 billion spent annually today on network security controls goes to programs, software, and other online solutions – most of which respond to incursions rather than prevent them. A very small proportion is devoted to closing the drawbridge itself – to protecting the ports and connectors that make your data system into an information network.
Network Security Controls at Your Fingertips
The kind of network security controls this requires is what we provide at The Connectivity Center. Our mission is protecting those physical points of entry that turn PCs into information systems, the ports and connectors where the most damaging and historically impactful cyber-attacks were perpetrated. Offering you the means to secure them is what we do every day.
The controlled access that makes your system so vital to operations, while still providing you with the vital network security controls you require, is embodied in our Smart Keeper collection of computer and laptop security devices. In addition to securing your USB ports and network connections, our Link Lock connectors and the Link Lock Hub also lock your devices so that they cannot be removed without authorized access.
You’ll find hundreds of other network security controls solutions from The Connectivity Center that include a variety of locking 4K high-speed cables and two kinds of keys for unlocking them, the Enterprise and Professional series of the Smart Keeper USB Port Lock Key. The Professional Series key from The Connectivity Center offers effective control for reaching port locks in confined spaces. The Professional comprises an ergonomic, retractable housing with anti-static rubber grip, LED light for low visibility work areas, and dual-retractors – main and peripheral – for access to any angle of installation. Key patterns are strictly controlled, yet you can order duplicate keys to suit your own security authorization structure.
The Smart Keeper collection, the locking USB connector, and the lockable USB key are some examples of the comprehensive collection of network security controls devices we have carefully curated here to offer you, from our unique perspective and experience. The quality, variety, value, and versatility that result from that experience are at your service from The Connectivity Center.
Let’s get acquainted and go to work.