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What are today's top 3 network security challenges?

A significant shortage of cybersecurity staff, poorly configured firewalls and unmanaged end-user mobile devices are some of the top network security threats.

Even in the best-case scenario, with effective network security infrastructure in place and an expert staff at the ready, network security can be a thorny task. Then, consider most organizations contend with serious resource limitations, and the picture becomes darker.

As network security threats continue to evolve, here are some of the top network security challenges organizations should consider:

1. Lack of cybersecurity staff. According to a survey of 1,500 IT professionals commissioned by nonprofit cybersecurity membership organization (ISC)2, 63% of respondents said their organizations lack sufficient cybersecurity staff. Fewer than 60% warned that, because of this talent shortage, their companies are at moderate to extreme risk of a breach.

This resource gap quickly translates into one of the most significant network security challenges today, with as many as 3 million unfilled cybersecurity positions globally. And, unfortunately, future projections show this number may continue to rise.  

Organizations try to fill in some security gaps with more automated technology and improved process efficiency. Using technology to automate critical, but fairly straightforward, processes such as patch management is one way resource-constrained IT professionals navigate network security challenges. Missing patches are like leaving the front door unlocked, inviting a cyber attacker to gain access on the web using an unauthenticated prompt or other method. 

2. Poorly configured firewall. Another of the more substantial network security challenges is a poorly configured firewall that allows either direct or indirect access to the network from unauthorized users or devices. Sometimes, the hacker gains entrance through another network connected to the wireline infrastructure, such as a Wi-Fi network that's not in use any longer, but still has active access points.

3. Unmanaged end-user mobile devices. IT professionals also face a number of network security challenges related to the changing enterprise operations environment itself. The move toward more distributed and virtualized operating environments populated by unmanaged, user-owned mobile and other endpoint devices makes protecting IT assets complex at best.

While certain tools safeguard the network from devices running recognized malicious code, protecting the unmanaged end-user phone or other device from a breach that could expose corporate passwords or other sensitive data is a tougher task. 

Perhaps the best way to overcome BYOD-related network security challenges is through effective policy. Requiring multifactor authentication and data encryption for any communications across the corporate network can go a long way toward better network security. Frequent and transparent communication of policies regarding the use of personally owned devices on the corporate network is also essential to establish best practices among the end-user community.

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