Network Security Risks in 2024

Top 8 Must Know Network Security Risks

Network security risks pose serious dangers to information systems from unauthorized access, cyber-attacks, and data breaches. In 2024, AI-powered cyber threats have lowered the barrier to entry for hackers. Organizations already struggling with rising business costs are trying to juggle tight budgets and necessary security protections which is predicted to lead to ballooning damages associated with cybercrime. 

In fact, experts from Cyber Security Ventures expect global cybercrime damage costs to grow by 15 percent per year over the next two years, reaching $10.5 trillion USD annually by 2025, up from $3 trillion USD in 2015. 

Source: Cybercrime To Cost The World $9.5 trillion USD annually in 2024  

Here are some of the top network security risks that individuals and organizations should be aware of and how to mitigate them. 

The Top Network Security Risks for You to Be Aware Of 

Phishing Attacks 

Phishing involves tricking individual users into providing sensitive information, such as usernames, passwords, or financial details, by posing as a trustworthy entity to gain access to accounts, networks, and systems. Phishing is the number one tactic used to infiltrate networks making it a major network security risk. 

Network Security Risks of Modern Phishing  

In recent years, phishing has surged in both volume and sophistication in large part due to improvements in automation, AI (Artificial Intelligence), and ease of access to these tools.  

Modern phishing leverages these enhanced capabilities to scale up capacity and conversions of their cyber threats – reaching more targets with higher likelihood to deceive users.  

Per Zscaler’s annual Phishing Report, “Recent AI technology advances like ChatGPT make it easier for threat actors to develop malicious code, generate business email compromise (BEC) attacks, create polymorphic malware and more,” which can help threat actors launch sophisticated email, SMS phishing (SMiShing), and voicemail phishing (vishing) campaigns at a larger scale than ever before. 

Source: Generative AI like ChatGPT fuels sophisticated phishing attacks ( 

Modern phishing as a network security risk

In the annual report: State of Phishing Report 2023 – Patrick Harr, CEO of SlashNext, highlighted generative AI and tools like ChatGPT as a key contributor to this increase: 

“We know from our research that threat actors are leveraging tools like ChatGPT to help write sophisticated, targeted Business Email Compromise (BEC) and other phishing messages, and an increase in the volume of these threats of over 1,000% corresponding with the time frame in which ChatGPT was launched is not a coincidence,” Patrick Harr said. 

Source: Report Links ChatGPT to 1,265% Rise in Phishing Emails – Infosecurity Magazine  

How to Mitigate:  

  • Educate users about recognizing phishing attempts through security awareness training – with specific focus on emerging network security risks 
  • Implement multi-factor authentication (MFA) on all core platforms 
  • Use email filtering tools for advanced email protection  
  • Implement access control through IAM solutions and documented policies  


Malware Network Security Risks 

Malicious software (malware) includes viruses, ransomware, and spyware, which can infect systems and compromise data integrity. It is important to understand the current threat landscape to better safeguard yourself and your organization from emerging threats. Here are some of the current trends to watch for in malware-based network security risks.  

Recent Malware Network Security Risks 

Ransomware-as-a-service: Ransomware-as-a-service (RaaS) is a model where cybercriminals provide ransomware to other individuals or groups, often for a fee or a percentage of the ransom payments collected. Developers or distributors of ransomware make their malicious software available for others to use, typically through dark web marketplaces or underground forums. 

Like software-as-a-service (SaaS) models in legitimate business, software is provided on a subscription basis. However, in the case of RaaS, the “service” provided is the infrastructure and tools necessary to carry out ransomware attacks. 

Security Awareness company, KnowBe4 states: “The surge in Ransomware-as-a-Service affiliates is likely the reason behind the dramatic increase in the number of victimized organizations, with all indicators suggesting that this trend will persist into 2024.” 

Source: The Number of Ransomware Attack Victims Surge in 2023 to over 4000 ( 

Deepfake Malware: Combining deepfake technology with malware amplifies the sophistication and effectiveness of cyber-attacks, making it more challenging for individuals and organizations to detect and defend against such threats. As a result, there is growing concern among cybersecurity experts about the potential impact of deepfake malware on privacy, security, and trust in digital media. 

Fileless Malware: Fileless malware, also known as memory-resident or non-persistent malware, is a type of malicious software that operates in computer memory (RAM) rather than being stored as files on the system’s disk. Unlike traditional malware, which relies on executable files stored on disk, fileless malware resides in the computer’s volatile memory and often leverages legitimate system tools and processes to execute its malicious activities. 

Fileless malware typically works by exploiting vulnerabilities in legitimate applications or the operating system to inject malicious code directly into the computer’s memory. Once executed, the malware operates entirely in memory, leaving little to no trace on the system’s disk, making it more challenging to detect and remove using traditional antivirus or endpoint security solutions. 

ChatGPT Accelerating Malware Development: ChatGPT and other generative AI tools have also increased the speed at which new iterations of malware are produced. While generative AI accelerates development, it cannot – at this point – automate the process entirely.  

“The potential for AI to quickly generate a large pool of code snippets, ones that can be used to create different malware families and can potentially bolster malware’s detection evasion capabilities, is a concerning prospect. However, the current limitations of these models provide some reassurance that such misuse is not yet fully feasible.” 

How to Mitigate:  

  • Fight AI with AI: Leverage smarter security tools to combat smarter threats, many leverage machine learning and AI to quickly pinpoint irregularities and reduce manual effort required to investigate, remediate, and resolve network security risks 
  • Enlist in managed detection and response services  
  • Leverage more advanced managed antivirus software 
  • Keep software and systems updated, patched, and monitored 
  • Encourage and practice safe browsing habits 
  • Get a network security assessment or audit to uncover potential remediation areas 


Insider Threats and Data Leakage 

Insider threats come from within an organization and can be intentional or unintentional, such as employees, contractors, or business partners misusing their access privileges. Insider threats can emerge in various forms and require strict access controls, policies, and safeguards to limit the potential impact to the organization.  

Insider threats can include:  

  • Malicious insiders with an understanding and intent to circumvent security measures 
  • Careless insiders who unintentionally let security breach through phishing, weak passwords, poor data management, and neglecting security measures 
  • Third-party Insiders including contractors, vendors, and partners who have access to business systems and can misuse granted permissions and access 

Data Leakage is when unauthorized access or accidental exposure of sensitive data can lead to data breaches. 

How to Mitigate:  

  • Implement least privilege access controls to limit individual user access to only the systems and resources necessary for each role 
  • Leverage advanced tools to monitor and analyse user behaviour and network activity to detect anomalies or suspicious behaviour indicative of insider threats 
  • Conduct regular security awareness training to educate employees  
  • Establish clear policies for handling sensitive data, accessing systems, and reporting incidents 
  • Implement robust authentication and access management controls, such as MFA to prevent unauthorized access 
  • Conduct background checks of third-party partners with access to sensitive systems or data 
  • Encrypt sensitive data, implement data loss prevention (DLP) solutions, and restrict access to critical information 


Denial of Service (DoS) Attacks 

DoS attacks aim to disrupt the normal functioning of a network by overwhelming it with a flood of traffic or requests. The objective of a DoS attack is to exhaust the target’s resources, such as bandwidth, CPU, memory, or network connections, rendering it unavailable to legitimate users or systems. 

How to Mitigate: 

  • Implement redundant network infrastructure and failover to ensure service availability 
  • Implement network traffic filtering and rate limiting mechanisms to identify and block malicious traffic 
  • Deploy IDS/IPS solutions to monitor network traffic and detect and block suspicious activity 
  • Configure firewalls to block unauthorized traffic, including known attack vectors and sources of malicious traffic 
  • Leverage CDNs (content delivery networks) to reduce the impact of DoS attacks by mitigating malicious traffic 


Man-in-the-Middle (MitM) Attacks 

Man-in-the-Middle (MitM) attacks pose a significant network security risk by allowing an attacker to intercept and potentially manipulate communication between two parties without their knowledge. In a MitM attack, the attacker positions themselves between the communicating parties, intercepting, altering, or eavesdropping on the data transmitted between them. 

How to Mitigate:  

  • Use encryption protocols such as SSL/TLS to encrypt data transmitted over networks 
  • Implement secure Wi-Fi practices with strong encryption and authentication 
  • Regularly monitor network traffic and implement DNSSEC (Domain Name System Security Extensions) to prevent DNS spoofing attacks and ensure the integrity of DNS responses 
  • Regular security and vulnerability assessments to uncover any exploitable weaknesses  


Unpatched Software and Systems Pose Network Security Risks 

Unpatched software and systems pose a significant network security risk by leaving vulnerabilities open to exploitation by attackers. When software or operating systems are not updated with the latest security patches and fixes, known vulnerabilities remain unaddressed, making it easier for attackers to exploit these weaknesses and compromise the security of networks, devices, and data. 

A report found that “unpatched vulnerabilities are the most consistent and primary ransomware attack vectors. It was recorded that in 2021, 65 new vulnerabilities arose that were connected to ransomware. This was observed to be a twenty-nine percent growth compared to the number of vulnerabilities in 2020.” 

Source: The Continuing Threat of Unpatched Security Vulnerabilities  

How to Mitigate:  

  • Establish a formal patch management process to consistently apply security updates, update software, and apply patches 
  • Leverage automated path management tools to streamline the process 
  • Maintain an inventory of all software and systems in the network to accurately track patch status and identify any gaps in patch coverage 
  • Partner with a Managed Services Provider to manage this process for your organization if you lack the resources to maintain internally 


Internet of Things (IoT) Vulnerabilities 

Insecure IoT devices can be exploited to gain unauthorized access to networks. While still a fringe network security risk for most businesses, IoT devices typically lack the same level of security standards as other network-connected devices. Weak authentication and vulnerabilities in firmware and software mean that IoT devices can open your network to potential threats.  

How to Mitigate:  

  • Secure IoT devices through configuration, strong policies, and additional tools 
  • Change default passwords and enable strong authentication  
  • Segment IoT networks from critical infrastructure 
  • Monitor IoT device activity on the network 


Lack of Network Segmentation 

Without proper segmentation, an attacker gaining access to one part of a network can potentially compromise the entire network. 

Network Segmentation Business Network Security

How to Mitigate:  

  • Implement network segmentation to limit lateral movement in the event of a security breach 
  • Leverage tools like VLAN for virtually segmented networks 
  • Partner with a network support company to get an optimized network design plan and ongoing assistance with maintaining network infrastructure 


Network Security Risks and Attacks 

Staying informed about top network security risks and implementing proactive measures is crucial for maintaining a secure and resilient network infrastructure. Regular security audits, employee training, and keeping abreast of emerging threats are essential components of a robust network security strategy. 

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