Network security and Information security used to be used interchangeably because it is the network that is at the core of most computer information. Recently information security has evolved beyond the network; however, it is still essentially the computer networks that enable information sharing especially in organizations. Therefore, a comprehensive understanding of computer networks will allow both novice and experienced personnel to have the tools necessary in the defense and protection of valuable assets.
In its simplest form, a network is two or more computers that are connected together through either a wired or wireless medium so that they can more effectively share and exchange information in various forms. Computers can also share information without a network through media such as CD/DVDs, USB drives, external hard drives and such but this process is inefficient especially as the distance between the computers become greater.
In exchange for the benefits of the network some knowledge and set up must take place including use of hardware, software, configurations and troubleshooting. The purpose of using networks is about sharing three main entities: files, resources and application programs.
- File Sharing
Networks allow one computer to share files with other computers and devices such as smartphones, tablets, smart TVs and others on the network regardless of their geographic location. This has essentially fueled the recent mobile evolution due to the ease of being to connect to the largest network in the world known as the Internet.
- Resource Sharing
Computer resources such as printers and hard drives and others can also be access through the network. For example, a single printer attached to one computer can then be shared by all other computers so they can easily print from their individual location and not require multiple printer purchases. The same can be done with external hard drives used for backup and other purposes especially for companies that can to store their data in a single location instead of having their data scattered throughout the organization. As you may see leads to use of more powerful computer systems called a File Servers.
- Application Program
Sharing Instead of having multiple copies of application programs on individual computer systems which would then require individual licenses and maintenance of them a single volume license could be purchased and maintained on one Application Server. This cuts down on maintenance time and costs in addition to revision updates. Antivirus and Anti malware programs one such example used in the industry today especially in environments with hundreds of individual computers. With the popularity of social media and constant connections the use of email and instant messaging programs allow for real-time communications. Without networks social networking companies such as Facebook and Twitter cannot really be as big and as popular as it is today. Online meetings, synchronous online classes and video conferencing are more real applications using networks. All one needs to connect to the network is a computer device that has a network interface card either wired or wireless that follows the rules of network functionality leading us into the next topic of the OSI and TCP/IP Models.