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Enterprise network

Enterprise network

Enterprise network definition

An enterprise network is an infrastructure that connects an organization’s computers, devices, and systems. Its primary function is to enable communication between devices. Whether an employee sends an email or accesses a shared file, their data travels across the network to its intended destination.

See also: intranet, data transfer, data breach

History of an enterprise network

  • Pre-1960s: Before networking, computers were standalone devices used without interconnections. Large mainframe computers, like those from IBM, required special rooms and were not accessible to most employees.
  • 1960s: The Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPANET) was born, setting the groundwork for today’s internet. Packet switching, a method to break down and send data in packets, was introduced.
  • 1970s: Robert Metcalfe developed Ethernet, giving rise to local area networks (LANs). Computers that were close to each other, like within an office, could now connect. The new TCP/IP protocol suite provided standardized methods for computer communication.
  • 1980s: ARPANET began using TCP/IP, marking a significant shift. Wide area networks (WANs) expanded the reach beyond local networks, connecting distant locations. Protocols like SMTP, FTP, and Telnet became more common in businesses.
  • 1990s: The rise of the internet led businesses to connect their systems online. Intranets, private networks within an organization, were developed for internal communications. Virtual private networks (VPNs) emerged, allowing secure remote access to enterprise networks.
  • T2000s: Wi-Fi became a standard feature in offices. Cloud computing lets companies access shared resources online, reducing the need for large local setups.
  • 2010s-present: Software-defined networking (SDN) allowed software to dynamically adjust network behavior. The rise of the Internet of Things (IoT) introduced a myriad of new devices into enterprise networks. Network security became key with growing cyber threats and the need for data protection regulations.

Security challenges of enterprise networks

  • Unauthorized access. Threat of intruders or malicious actors gaining access to the network and accessing sensitive data or systems.
  • Malware and viruses. Risk of software designed to disrupt, damage, or gain unauthorized access to computer systems.
  • Phishing and social engineering attacks. Attempts by attackers to trick employees into revealing sensitive information or credentials.
  • Advanced persistent threats (APTs). Prolonged targeted cyberattacks where attackers gain access and remain undetected for extended periods.
  • Distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks. Overloading systems or services with traffic to make them unavailable to users.
  • Device proliferation and BYOD (bring your own device) policies. More devices, especially personal ones, connecting to the network can create security vulnerabilities.
  • IoT vulnerabilities. Internet-of-things (IoT) devices often have weaker security measures and can become entry points for attackers.

Further reading

Ultimate digital security