2023 Network Security Monitoring (NSM): A Complete Guide

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Network Security Monitoring (NSM)

The need for network security monitoring (NSM) has become paramount to ensure the proper functioning of worldwide networks. 

NSM is an essential part of any organization’s security strategy, as it provides real-time monitoring of the network to identify and prevent security breaches. 

In this article, we will explore what is Network Security Monitoring (NSM), how It works and the top nine NSM tools available in 2023 to help organizations secure their networks.

What is Network Security Monitoring (NSM) & How Does It Work

Network Security Monitoring (NSM) is the practice of regularly reviewing an organization’s system to detect any unauthorized access or intrusions in the IT network. 

NSM aims to identify, correlate, and characterize networking activities that can be classified as intentional unauthorized activities. 

It involves collecting and analyzing data, which in turn allows companies to detect and respond to intruders in their network before they cause significant damage. 

NSM verifies the effectiveness of the first lines of defense, provides the opportunity to remediate threats before they cause harm, and enables organizations to understand where the holes are in their system and how to fix them.

NSM is not a way to prevent intrusions themselves; instead, it is based on the idea that prevention may fail, and detection and response become necessary. NSM complements other security tools and systems such as firewalls, antivirus, and intrusion prevention systems by providing visibility in the network. 

NSM does not block, filter, or deny any traffic, and its role is to detect intruders who bypass the prevention measures. Unlike legacy networks that rely upon individual firewalls and access management systems, next-generation NSM adds software-defined perimeter defenses that cover physical and virtual devices. 

Automation tools also handle software updates, user activity, and policy management. Network management tools control network security from a single interface, providing complete visibility at all times.

In summary, NSM is a modern paradigm for organizational security that involves collecting and analyzing data to detect and respond to intruders in the network before they cause significant damage. 

NSM complements other security tools and systems and provides complete visibility of the network infrastructure.

Differences Between Network Security Monitoring vs. Network Monitoring 

Network monitoring and network security monitoring are two different functions that provide distinct purposes within an organization. 

Network monitoring involves monitoring and tracking network activity for problems or issues caused by malfunctioning devices or overloaded resources, while network security monitoring analyzes a variety of complex factors to detect and respond to known malicious activities, vulnerabilities, and exploits in the wild.

Network monitoring tools use measurements and algorithms to set a baseline on data-at-rest and measure three primary metrics, including availability, performance, and configuration. 

Meanwhile, network security monitoring tools analyze network payload, protocols, client-server communications, encrypted traffic sessions, traffic patterns, and traffic flow to detect and alert administrators to any suspicious or malicious activities to contain a threat.

While both types of monitoring use some overlapping tools, they must work together to provide comprehensive analytics. Network monitoring tools provide a high-level view of the infrastructure, while network security monitoring tools protect businesses from potential vulnerabilities and attacks. 

The effectiveness of security monitoring can be reduced by using the same tools for both network monitoring and security monitoring, leaving an environment vulnerable to advanced attacks.

9 BEST Network Security Monitoring Solutions (Software and Companies)

With so many network monitoring tools available in the market, selecting the right one can be a daunting task. Comprehensive network monitoring solutions offer visibility into the network environment and help ensure that devices are always available when needed.

Given the complexities of network management, there are a variety of tools that can be used as “network management tools.”

To make the decision-making process easier, this article looks at some of the key features that network administrators should consider while choosing a network monitoring tool.

These include SNMP, network mapping, uptime/downtime, alerting, bandwidth monitoring, network health, dashboards, and more.

#1 – SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor 

SolarWinds NPM is more than just a simple scanner. It can identify network security issues when configurations are changed, and automatically resolve many of them. 

In addition to solid vulnerability scanning and advanced policy monitoring options, SolarWinds also offers a unique feature called NetPath, which shows the route as a visual representation.

#2 – Auvik

Auvik is a SaaS-based network mapper that offers two plans, both of which include system management tools. This network monitoring package is ideal for multi-site businesses that need to centralize system management in one location.

#3 – Datadog Network Monitoring

Datadog offers a great visual overview of network components and traffic flows between them. Its cloud-based platform provides device health checks and traffic flow analysis. Users can choose to subscribe to device monitoring, traffic monitoring, or both. 

The cloud location of Datadog enables it to monitor any network anywhere in the world from one operations center.

#4 – Paessler PRTG Network Monitor

PRTG is a free network monitoring software that uses SNMP, packet sniffing, and WMI to monitor networks. It is the best option for response time monitoring for websites. 

The PRTG system includes a Web Page Sensor for recording the load times of pages, as well as a Ping-based availability monitor for websites. PRTG has a customizable dashboard that allows users to produce real-time network maps of their infrastructure.

#5 – ManageEngine OpManager

OpManager is a network monitor that can monitor SNMP devices, switches, servers, and virtualized network services. It also monitors servers, recording important resource metrics such as CPU, memory, disk capacity, and utilization. OpManager offers a graphical user interface for Linux, making status recognition easy.

#6 – Domotz

Domotz Free and Pro versions are top remote network monitoring tools that allow you to monitor multiple networks remotely. It can monitor unlimited endpoints, making it scalable for larger organizations. 

They offer SNMP monitoring, bandwidth analysis, and speed tests to detect network problems. 

With external IP host monitoring, you can monitor up to five devices remotely, giving you visibility even when you’re not on-site.

#7 – Checkmk

Checkmk is a system-wide monitoring service that is available in free and paid editions. It runs on Linux or a physical appliance and covers wireless networks as well as LANs. 

Checkmk starts its service by searching the network and identifying all connected devices, compiling a device inventory that forms the basis of the network monitoring dashboard’s status reports. 

The package also creates a live network map. The base package of Checkmk is completely free to use, and there is also a paid version of the system called Checkmk Enterprise, which caters to managed service providers.

#8 – Site24x7 Network Monitoring

The facilities in the Site24x7 system exceed basic connectivity and availability checks and include website monitoring tools that beat those in most utilities. 

Each package of Site24x7 includes website monitoring tools that exceed basic connectivity and availability checks. The package also checks connections to cloud platforms, offering to monitor internet links as well as local networks.

#9 – Fortra’s Intermapper

Fortra’s Intermapper is a straightforward tool available in free and paid versions for Windows, macOS, and Linux. It starts with an autodiscovery tool and maps your network, then offers constant performance monitoring. 

Intermapper crowds a lot of information onto one screen, which saves you time looking through network performance information because you don’t need to switch pages in the interface. 

The network map operates as a menu of details on each of the devices on the network, allowing you to see throughput data as well as status reports. You can set performance threshold levels on each of the metrics that the monitor tracks, such as CPU capacity or interface throughput.

In conclusion, choosing the right network security monitoring solution is crucial for ensuring the optimal performance of your network.

By selecting a comprehensive network monitoring solution with key features such as SNMP, network mapping, uptime/downtime, alerting, bandwidth monitoring, network health, dashboards, and more, network administrators can stay on top of their network environment and respond quickly to any issues that arise.

Credits: Featured image/photo by Alina Grubnyak on Unsplash

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