CISSP Domain Refresh 4: Communications and Network Security

August 7, 2018 by Sumit Bhattacharya


The Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP), is the perfect cert for Security professionals. As per the survey depicted in the below screenshot, this gold standard certification requires demonstrating that you have sufficient work experience and passing an exam covering the eight domains of information security.

This article covers the fourth of those eight domains, Communications and Network Security. Total of 14% of the questions in the CISSP exam comes from this domain. In this article, we will focus on each topic covered in the first domain. 

Domain 4: Communications and Network Security

Computer networks are one of the most vulnerable components of any business, mainly because they are utilized so frequently by the majority of the individuals in an organization. This domain of CISSP involves making secure communication channels over a network, which may be an in-house email system, messages, phone calls, faxes, etc.

Computer Networking

The domain 4 of CISSP starts with the basics of networking, which build the foundation of the whole domain, the exam takers should familiarize themselves with basic networking concepts like

  • TCP/IP protocol suite
  • DNP3
  • Public and private addressing
  • Subnetting
  • Domain Name System
  • Network ports
  • ICMP
  • Multilayer protocols

Network Security Devices

Security professionals should develop defense-in-depth strategies that consolidate network-enforced security devices & technologies with best practices. This domain discusses:

  • Switches and routers
  • Firewalls
  • Load balancers
  • Proxies
  • Web security gateways
  • VPNs and VPN concentrators
  • Network Intrusion detection and prevention
  • Protocol analyzers
  • Unified threat management
  • Content distribution networks
  • Modems

Building blocks to Secure Networks Design

The implementation of a Network Infrastructure requires the proper configuration in accordance with security principles, this requires security professionals to understand basic network security concepts which is covered under this domain:

  • NATing and PATing
  • VLAN’s and network segmentation
  • Network access control (NAC) and 802.1x
  • Remote network access
  • Desktop and Application virtualization
  • Defense in depth principle

Specialized Networking

These days businesses and consumers are not restricted to old conventional way of communication rather they use all sorts of mechanisms, such as E-Mail, Instant Messaging, Texting, Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP), etc. These specific mediums must be protected as well.

  • Multimedia collaboration
  • Storage networks (Storage Area Networks and Network Attached Storage)
  • Multi-Protocol Packet Label Switching (MPLS)

Network Security Management

Businesses require high-maintenance and advanced software and hardware to prevent malicious attacks from hacking and spamming, hence it must manage and monitored appropriately. The fourth domain of CISSP covers:

Virtualized Networks

  • Software-defined networking (SDN)
  • Port Isolation

Network Attacks

Networks are always prone to various network attacks and unauthorized monitoring. If you proper security measures and controls are not implemented in the network, there is a high chance for the network may undergo various attacks from inside/or outside the network. Following are different types of networks attacks, which are covered under this domain.

  • Denial of Service attack
  • Distributed Denial of Service attack
  • Password Guessing Attacks
  • Address Resolution Protocol (ARP) Spoofing Attacks
  • SYN attack
  • Sniffing Attack
  • Man-In-The-Middle (MITM) attack
  • IP Address Spoofing Attack
  • DNS (Domain Name System) Spoofing Attacks
  • Phishing and Pharming Spoofing attacks
  • Backdoor Attacks

Transport Layer Encryption

Transport layer encryption can be defined as, utilizing cryptographic protocols to interchange IP packets over a computer network security. Following are the protocols covered under domain 4 of CISSP.

  • TLS and SSL
  • IPsec
  • Securing common insecure protocols such as (TFTP, Telnet, FTP, https, etc.)
  • Tor and perfect forward secrecy

Wireless Networking

With continues advancement in technology, coupled with increasing price/performance advantages. Wireless availability is being found increasingly in office and public environments these days. CISSP domain 4 discusses the security threats and risks associated with wireless networks and outlines best practices for deploying wireless networks in corporate environments.

  • Understanding wireless networking
  • Basic wireless security
  • WEP, WPA, and WPA2
  • Wireless authentication
  • Wireless signal propagation
  • WPA and WPS attacks
  • Propagation attacks
  • Preventing rogues and evil twins
  • Understanding Bluetooth and NFC attacks

Host Security

Host security can be defined as a technique of securing an individual system from attacks; there are multiple dimensions through which host-based security is achieved.

  • Operating system security
  • Malware prevention
  • Application management
  • Host-based network security controls
  • Hardware security
  • Virtualization security


Communications and Network Security domain of CISSP prepares a security professional to have a solid understanding of securing network architecture and design, network attacks and countermeasures in an enterprise environment, therefore providing a critical foundation for his/her career to advance in information security.

Posted: August 7, 2018


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Articles Author
Sumit Bhattacharya
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