Network infrastructure is a term for everything that comprises a computer network. This includes hardware (wires, routers, and software) which manages how the computer network behaves. The infrastructure keeps the network running. It can refer to the underpinnings of one network or a combination of networks that communicate with each other.
Basic overview of network infrastructure
This is a simplified view of how networks work, but here are some of the most important elements of network infrastructure:
- Servers run computing processes. They’re often a computer or a smaller device solely dedicated to hosting a computer program. Web servers host websites and allow Internet users to reach them.
- Routers receive and direct packets from elsewhere on the network or from another network and forward them to their correct destination.
- Wires and cables carry signals and packets.
- Operating systems tell a computer how to run so that it can perform computing processes correctly.
- Network protocols regulate data packets and transmission. A common example is TCP/IP, the protocol for Internet communication between computers.
- Firewalls, mentioned in the next section, control access to a private network by permitting or discarding data packets. They can be hardware- or software-based.
Also read “Network Fundamentals Study Guide“
Network infrastructure security
Firewalls are the minimum gateways used to protect networks. A firewall is a division between a private network and an outside network, often the internet, that manages traffic passing between the two networks. It’s implemented through either hardware or software. Firewalls allow, limit, and block network traffic based on preconfigured rules in the hardware or software, analyzing packets that request entry to the network. Businesses can implement a variety of firewalls. Some perform only the most basic filtering, and some, like next-generation firewalls, are more advanced security platforms.
Firewalls are no longer sufficient security for many businesses with high data protection requirements. Intrusion detection and prevention systems monitor network activity and track patterns so that malicious traffic can be detected and halted more quickly. Endpoint detection and response (EDR) manages network traffic from geographically scattered devices.
Most notable is extended detection and response (XDR), a security solution that combines intrusion detection and prevention features usually offered by different software into a single platform. XDR is helpful for identifying and stopping attacks more quickly. If all the data is compiled by one application instead of five, network administrators can better track threats as they move through a network and won’t have to worry about different software working together.