Network security. Endpoint security. Cyber security. These different, often overlapping arms of IT security can get confusing. And as hackers get smarter, it’s increasingly important to know what each does and how to implement them into your own network.

Network security

Network security is anything you do to protect your network, both hardware and software. Network administrators (or system administrators) are responsible for making sure the usability, reliability, and integrity of your network remains intact. A hacker is capable of getting into a network and blocking your access, for example, by holding a system hostage for a bitcoin ransom.

Endpoint security

Endpoint security technology is all about securing the data at the place where it both enters and leaves the network. It’s a device-level approach to network protection that requires any device remotely accessing a corporate network to be authorized, or it will be blocked from accessing the network. Whether it’s a smartphone, PC, a wireless point-of-sale, or a laptop, every device accessing the network is a potential entry point for an outside threat. Endpoint security sets policies to prevent attacks, and endpoint security software enforces these policies.

Cyber security

To protect us against unwittingly sharing our private information all over the web, there are different standards and protocols for how information is sent over the Internet. There are ways to block intrusions with firewalls, anti-malware, and anti-spyware — anything designed to monitor incoming Internet traffic for unwanted traffic or malware like spyware, adware or Trojans. If these measures don’t stop hackers from getting through, encryption can make it harder for them to do much with your data by encoding it in a way that only authorized users can decrypt, whether that data is in transit between computers, browsers, and websites, or at rest on servers and databases.

Just as important as the types of security are the types of data to protect. Personally identifiable information, intellectual property and financial information are the three jewels in the data security crown.

Personally identifiable information

Virtually every organization acquires, uses and stores personally identifiable information (PII). Most have it for their employees and, depending on their area of business, may also have it for a wider group including customers, patients, residents and students.

Not so long ago, the most common way people protected their PII was to pay for an unlisted telephone number. Today, there are many types of PII — and it’s not just businesses that use and must protect PII. Schools, universities, healthcare facilities, retailers, government offices and many other organizations also acquire, process and store highly sensitive records.

Intellectual property

Intellectual property consists of items that you have created that are unique and that provide you with an economic benefit. Intellectual property includes inventions, designs, original works of authorship and trade secrets. How you protect your intellectual property depends on what types of intellectual property you have (patents, copyrights, trademarks, trade secrets for example).

Financial information

Financial information is any information that can be unlawfully obtained during the offering or delivery of a financial product/service or processing of a purchase. The economic loss can be great when financial information combined with non-sensitive and /or sensitive PII leaks occur.

Make sure you know who is getting your personal or financial information. Don’t give out personal information on the phone, through the mail or over the Internet unless you’ve initiated the contact or know who you’re dealing with. If a company that claims to have an account with you sends email asking for personal information, don’t click on links in the email. Instead, type the company name into your web browser, go to their site, and contact them through customer service. Or, call the customer service number listed on your account statement. Ask whether the company really sent a request.

In order to protect yourself you need to understand how. Employing state of the art security solutions is the one of the first necessary steps to take in order to secure data anywhere and everywhere.