Basic Networking Resources
Wide area networking refers to the interconnection of geographically dispersed offices separated by public rights-of-way. The Internet is actually a huge wide area network (WAN), and if your branches are all online, they’re technically already part of the same WAN. However, the Internet lacks the reliability, security and bandwidth that companies need for certain sensitive data and critical applications. In a library context, circulation records, cataloging records and financial records shouldn’t be sent over the public Internet unless they’re encrypted.
In one sense, you already have an army of network monitors in your library. Every time something goes wrong, you probably get a few spontaneous alerts from patrons and colleagues. However, if you want preventive information and in-depth analysis of what’s happening on your network, you need network monitoring software.
The Internet is a dangerous place filled with a constant barrage of automated scans that scour the Internet for vulnerable targets. Once identified, these targets receive a variety of attacks. Many of the attackers have no idea who owns the target, and the ultimate goal depends on both the attacker and the type of target. Selecting an appropriate firewall helps protect your network from the Internet and the Internet from your network.
Security policies provide the road map for how to protect your network. These guidelines include the acceptable use of technical resources, the security requirements and why a particular policy exists. Without the clear guidelines from a security policy, your library runs the risk of inconsistent implementation of security. The process of creating a security policy provides a unique opportunity to understand the details of your organization’s network.
Managing security means understanding the risks and deciding how much risk is acceptable. Different levels of security are appropriate for different organizations. No network is 100 percent secure, so don’t aim for that level of protection. If you try to stay up-to-date on every new threat and every virus, you’ll soon be a quivering ball of anxiety and stress. Look for the major vulnerabilities that you can address with your existing resources.