What’s the Difference between Cybersecurity and Network Security?

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Cybersecurity vs network security—understand the difference!

Is your company looking to implement a security program? Information security is where you should begin. The concept is an umbrella term covering both digital and physical data systems. That said, securing these systems has become more elaborate and fragmented. Now, you can classify information security into several subcategories, two of which are cybersecurity and network security

Both include protocols, methods, and techniques to reinforce your IT systems’ digital barricades. Still, you’ll find 3 main differences between them.

Let’s learn more about the differences between cybersecurity and network security. First, let me define both terms.

What Is Cybersecurity?

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Cybersecurity protects all your IT systems!

Cybersecurity is one of the most significant domains of information security. It protects sensitive information and critical systems from all internal and external digital attacks and threats. Examples of external attacks include malicious software, like ransomware or Denial of Service (DoS) attacks. On the other hand, internal attacks can range from data leaks to an employee misusing privileges

Your company’s cybersecurity strategy should combine 3 main aspects

  1. Governance: Design of policies, procedures, and roles forming the cybersecurity plan 
  2. Technology: Choice of technical solutions and software protecting the system
  3. Operations: Practical implementation of technology and governance decisions in day-to-day business activities

Additionally, cybersecurity focuses on 4 main security types

  1. Network security: Focuses on protecting your corporate networks
  2. IoT security: Safeguards data on smart devices that automatically connect and transmit data over a network
  3. Cloud security: Protects data, IT infrastructure, services, and internet protocols of your cloud systems
  4. Application security: Protects the systems you use to develop, test, and deploy your applications

As you can see from the previous list, network security is a special type of cybersecurity. Let’s get into more details below!

What Is Network Security?

Illustration of a hand in a circle with the words network security floating above the hand.
Network security tools protect your network!

Network security is a cybersecurity sub-domain that identifies strategies for network protection. Your company’s network connects you to the internet, making it your main link with the outside world. Bad actors launch network attacks like worms and trojan horses to access your confidential data and sensitive information. This malicious software can also automatically spread through your network, interrupt normal business operations, and steal your data. 

Here’s where network security measures save the day. They protect your data while it’s in storage and as it moves over your network as data packets. Network security strategies include implementing firewalls, antivirus software, and network monitoring tools.

Now that you have an overview of these two security programs, I’ll elaborate on their differences next.

3 Major Differences between Cybersecurity and Network Security

Network security and cybersecurity focus on different information security aspects. I’ve grouped the differences into 3 major categories.

1. Scope

Cybersecurity is a broad term that considers strategies, techniques, programs, and people to protect your entire IT infrastructure. It also includes various methods to test your existing defenses and proactively think of new ways cybercriminals may attack in the future. More importantly, cybersecurity policies have response and backup strategies for faster disaster recovery in case of an attack.

On the other hand, network security focuses on strengthening internal network communication. It also ensures that employees have fewer opportunities to leak data or abuse their privileges. In addition, network security uses technology and tools to protect the system against cybercrimes meant to destroy, corrupt, or steal data.

2. Attack Types

Cybersecurity protects your system against all attacks, including the ones not directly aimed at the network. For example, some attacks target employees and trick them into revealing sensitive details. Other attacks are currently unknown since cybercriminals always upgrade their attack strategies. Thus, cybersecurity includes components like employee training, policies, and procedures for better defense.

As for network security, it focuses on preventing network attacks. Some attacks include malware, SQL injection, and Denial of Service. Network security also strengthens passwords and deploys stronger firewalls and regular network scans. This aims to create an efficient barrier for your network.

3. Solution Focus

When it comes to solution focus, cybersecurity deals with attack prevention and response. Meanwhile, network security focuses more on attack prevention

For example, a ransomware attack encrypts your system and locks users from accessing critical data. In a ransomware attack, the attacker may try multiple login attempts in a short time or try to avoid firewall measures. 

Cybersecurity measures will include your response to the attack. These measures will answer questions like:

  • Will you pay the ransom?
  • What will you tell your customers?
  • When and what backup systems will come into operation after the attack?

On the other hand, network security measures will focus on stopping the attack from occurring. These measures answer questions like:

  • How do you detect suspicious network activity?
  • Whom to alert in case of suspicious activity?
  • How do you block devices or users that are behaving abnormally?

Thus, you can observe that network security is the practical implementation of one aspect of cybersecurity.

Cybersecurity vs Network Security Summary

I’ve summarized all the differences I discussed above in the table below.

CategoryCybersecurityNetwork Security
ScopeHas a broader scope to protect a company’s entire IT systemHas limited scope to strengthen a company’s network defenses
AspectsIncludes governance, technology, and operations for comprehensive securityIncludes technology for preventing network attacks
TrainingIncludes employee training regarding policies and procedures to reduce security risksIs limited to implementing, configuring, and using relevant network protection tools
Attack typeAims to prevent and respond to various current and future attacksFocuses on preventing network attacks only
StrategyUses future-focused strategies that consider potential IT changes and the increased complexity of cyber attacks Uses present-focused strategies to protect current network infrastructure best
Target OrganizationsIs suitable for medium or large organizations with a bigger budget, complex IT infrastructure, and cloud adoptionIs suitable for small organizations with limited IT infrastructure
6 features that differentiate cybersecurity and network security.

And now for some final words! 

Final Words

Comparing cybersecurity and network security is like comparing bread and food. Food encompasses many items, and bread is an essential food item. Similarly, cybersecurity has many types, and network security is a specific implementation of one type

If you’re a small company with a limited budget, you can implement one network security tool for basic protection. That said, as your company grows, you must consider hiring or partnering with third-party cybersecurity consultants who’ll analyze your entire IT infrastructure. Then, they can identify policies, procedures, tools, and training for in-depth attack prevention and response.

Have more questions about the differences between cybersecurity and network security? Check out our FAQ and Resources sections below for more information!


What is IP security in network security?

IP security tackles issues of creating secure internet protocols. It also encrypts data packages. Transport (partial encryption and data authentication) is the first common mode of IP security. The second common one is tunnel (full encryption and data authentication) mode.

What is penetration testing in cybersecurity?

Penetration testing is the strategy of using tools or ethical cybercriminals to simulate an attack for testing your security measures. The test also aims to imitate a real-world attack. This test is to see the response of your IT systems and security teams in case of an attack. It also helps to identify existing vulnerabilities you may have missed. 

How do you maintain network security?

You can maintain network security within any organization using several methods. Some of the most efficient methods are educating employees to better handle data security and using VPNs. Other methods also include encrypting sensitive data and frequently updating passwords.

Is cybersecurity or network security better?

The answer depends on your company’s needs. Cybersecurity is a must for medium and large-sized corporations. It’s also most suitable for enterprises with hundreds of employees and large volumes of sensitive data. On the other hand, network security can suffice for smaller firms whom high-level cybercriminals won’t likely target.

Do you need to know networking for cybersecurity?

Cybersecurity professionals are typically individuals with extensive knowledge and experience in networking. That said, companies that need to strengthen their cyber defenses can outsource to third-party cybersecurity tools. They can also rely on managed cybersecurity services to shield their data and information from malicious actors.


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