Network security vs. identity-based application security

May 4, 2020
a woman in a cafe works on identity based application security for networks on her laptop

Hackers are constantly seeking new and innovative ways to attack systems and applications. As a result, cybersecurity experts need to determine the best way to secure systems while maintaining flexibility to address future challenges. One way to meet this need is by integrating both network security and identity-based security solutions.

Network security has been around since systems first started talking to each other. While the capabilities of technology have greatly changed, the primary tenets of network security have not. According to CSOonline, network security includes:

  • Protection: You should configure your systems and networks as correctly as possible
  • Detection: You must be able to identify when the configuration has changed or when some network traffic indicates a problem
  • Reaction: After identifying problems quickly, you must respond to them and return to a safe state as rapidly as possible

CSO writer Josh Fruhlinger notes this as “a defense in depth strategy,” meaning one line of defense will never be sufficient. “Your network isn't a line or a point: it's a territory, and even if an attacker has invaded part of it, you still have the resources to regroup and expel them, if you've organized your defense properly,” Fruhlinger says.

Components of network security include access control, anti-malware, behavioral analytics, data loss prevention, email security, firewalls, VPNs, and application security. In recent years, that last item – particularly identity-based application security – has become an important addition to the list of defensive resources. This is because software programs can be incredibly vulnerable.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has reported that 90% of cybersecurity incidents were a result of exploited defects in software applications. It’s vital that cybersecurity experts integrate Identity and Access Management (IAM) for applications.

“[IAM] plays a critical role in any enterprise security plan, as it is inseparably linked to the security and productivity of companies,” says Bhavdip Rathod, an Identity and Access Management Solution Architect at Sailpoint Technologies, Inc., in an article for Cyber Defense Magazine.

IAM involves authentication of a user through a login and password, biometrics, or multi-factor authentication. Using integrated IAM can lead to enhanced data security, reduced security costs, and easier integration of least privilege and consistent governance controls, says Rathod.

Implementing the least privilege principle is one example of IAM and network security working hand in hand. Limiting the access a user has to software applications following network security rules and confirming appropriate access with IAM may help reduce insider breaches. This is especially important as 77% of data breaches involve an inside resource, Rathod reports.

Network security and IAM application-based security each offer varying protections to maintain security across hardware, software, and cloud services. For the highest level of protection, cybersecurity experts should put plans into place that integrate both.

Want to learn about cybersecurity? Capitol Tech offers bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees in cyber and information security. Many courses are available both on campus and online. To learn more about Capitol Tech’s degree programs, contact

Categories: Cybersecurity